Udemy logo

Soft skills are on the rise, but which soft skills matter the most? We took a look at what 24+ million people are learning on Udemy to find out the 10 hot soft skills trending in 2018. See the top 10 soft skills trending in the workplace in 2019!

77% of employers believe that soft skills are as important as hard skills. Why is that? Soft skills are on the rise for many different reasons. Employees increasingly demand positive workplace cultures built on collaboration and respect. Always-on social media means treating customers with white gloves goes a long way. Treating them with punching gloves can destroy your brand in 24 hours. As a result, today’s customer-facing employees need to master communication, listening, and empathy.

Finally, as more processes and jobs become automated, soft skills are what differentiates humans from robots. With 82% of business leaders saying human-robot teams will be a reality in 5 years, soft skills–like subtle communication and creativity–are what’s going to matter in these hybrid roles. In other words, let the robot input the data and crunch it, while the human collaborates with his colleagues on how these data insights can be applied to the business. Negotiation, public speaking, and collaboration skills are going to count more than ever.

10 Hot Soft Skills Employees Need Today

Here are the top 10 soft skills trending on Udemy in 2018.

1. Manager Training

Leadership and manager training has always been a critical soft skill, and it continues to top the list. Research has shown good managers make a huge difference in employee engagement, productivity, and retention. According to Culture Amp employee feedback data, organizations with great managers and great leaders results in 89% of employees feeling committed to staying at a company. With collaborative workplace cultures valued by employees, angry bosses are no longer the norm. Millennials are also now moving into new manager roles and require leadership training. So it’s not surprising that employees are busy honing their managerial skills on Udemy and Udemy for Business with courses like Management Skills: Productivity, Strategy, Leadership & More and Management Skills: Essentials for the New Manager.

2. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) comes in second as the fastest-growing soft skill on Udemy in 2018. In addition to being a key skill in creating more collaborative workplace cultures, research also demonstrates that employees with higher EQ like empathy, communication, and people skills are more successful, particularly in fields like sales, customer service, or management. For example, sales agents with high emotional competencies at a national insurance company sold policies worth an average of $114,000 versus those agents with weaker EQ who sold only an average of $54,000. Emotional Intelligence matters to both culture and performance and employees are busy mastering this skill with courses like The 21-Day Crash Course in Emotional Intelligence and Developing Emotional Intelligence on Teams.

3. Business Writing

What is the top skill missing in recent college graduates? 44% of managers reported that writing was the skill most college grads lacked. With the rise of email and social media communication channels in the workplace, strong writing skills have become a must-have for everyone. Business writing, in particular, requires a concise and persuasive writing style that is often not taught at school. On Udemy, business writing is the third most sought-after soft skill trending in 2018 with popular courses like Writing with Impact: Writing that Persuades or Writing with Flair: How to Become an Exceptional Writer.

4. Focus Strategies

Our recent Udemy 2018 Workplace Distraction Report found that nearly 1 in 4 workers believe they’re more distracted now than they were in previous years. The top causes of distraction include chatty coworkers (80%), office noises (70%) and social media (56%). With the rise of social media and open office plans, employees are increasingly distracted at work and it’s hurting their productivity. It’s not surprising that the 4th hot soft skill trending on our Udemy platform is mastering focus strategies. This includes courses like The Power of Focus: Boost Your Brain and Productivity Hacks: Free Up Your Time and Live Better.

5. Personal Development

Related to focus strategies, we also saw more learners striving to improve their entire life, not just their work life. Personal development, which includes improving self-esteem, motivation, or personal happiness ranks as the 5th hot soft skill in 2018. Organizations should take note and offer learning that helps develop their employees holistically as these soft skills no doubt benefit the workplace as well. Some of the popular courses trending in this category include Master Your Brain: Neuroscience for Personal Development, Learn Social Psychology: The Self and Self-Esteem, and Creating a Meaningful Life & Developing Habits of Happiness.

6. Presentation and Public Speaking Skills

Always an important workplace skill, presentation, and public speaking skills rank as the 6th hot soft skill trending on Udemy. Employees aren’t just learning how to speak well to a large crowd, but how to better connect with their audience and how to present their case more persuasively. Popular courses include The Complete Presentation and Public Speaking Course or Presentation Skills: Public Speaking for Professionals.

7. Negotiation

In increasingly collaborative workplaces, negotiation has become an important skill as consensus-driven decision-making has replaced more traditional top-down management styles. As a result, every employee must master the art of negotiation and learn how to both advocate and compromise whether it’s a new project they’re proposing or agreeing on the team’s goals for the quarter. Negotiation skills are the 7th hot skill on our Udemy platform in 2018 with popular courses like Successful Negotiation: Master Your Negotiation Skills or Negotiation Fundamentals: How to Negotiate Effectively.

8. Stress Management

Our Udemy 2017 Workplace Stress Study found that 52% of workers are feeling more stressed than they were a year ago. While workplace stress in the form of deadlines or tough managers has always been an issue, more recently, our study found fears of automation and the rapid pace of change are also adding more stress for workers. Stress is also a well-known damper on both innovation and productivity in humans. As a result, organizations are increasingly offering wellness programs to help employees manage their stress and anxiety at work. Stress management was the 8th hot soft skill trending our Udemy platform, and popular courses include Stress Management: 40 Easy Ways to Deal with Stress or Relaxation Techniques to Ease Office Stress.

9. Customer Service

A successful customer service team builds authentic and trusting relationships with your customers, turning them into natural advocates of your brand. Customer service matters to your company’s bottom line. 78% of customers have bailed a transaction or not made a purchase because of poor service experience. Organizations recognize the importance of great customer service and are equipping customer service teams with the soft skills they’ll need to succeed–from listening skills to empathy. Customer service is the 9th hot soft skill in 2018 with popular courses like Brilliant Customer Service: How to Impress Your Customers and Customer Service: Soft Skills Fundamentals.

10. Interviewing Skills

Finally, with the tight labor market and growing job openings, interview skills rank as the 10th hot skill to have in 2018. Both sides of the interview table are busy brushing up on their skills–whether it’s improving how to conduct an interview and identify good candidates or how a potential hire can ace an interview. Popular courses include Interview Skills: How to Conduct a Job Interview or Interviewing Skills for Jobs: Ace the Job Interview.

See the top 10 soft skills trending in the workplace in 2019!

Find out how Udemy for Business can help develop your employees’ soft skills.

Page Last Updated: February 2020

Top courses in Communication Skills

Cross Cultural Communication
Alex Genadinik
4.4 (525)
Communication Fundamentals: How To Communicate Better
Life Progression Project, Lorraine Wiseman
4.4 (99,891)
Communications for New Managers
Jessica Chen
4.6 (3,741)
The Communication Skills and Social Intelligence Masterclass
Kain Ramsay, Life Skills by Achology, The Academy of Modern Applied Psychology
4.6 (1,247)
Gain Practical Communication Skills with this Complete Guide
Jimmy Naraine • Official Udemy Partner, Jimmy Naraine Support
4.8 (221)
Smart Tips: Communication
Deborah Grayson Riegel
4.6 (31,361)
Persuasion Masterclass: How To Powerfully Influence Anyone
Brandon Hakim, Insider School
4.2 (5,855)
Communication Skills - 11 Communication Courses In 1
Expert Academy, Lahcen Bouya
4.5 (1,267)

More Communication Skills Courses

Communication Skills students also learn

Empower your team. Lead the industry.

Get a subscription to a library of online courses and digital learning tools for your organization with Udemy Business.

Request a demo