These 3 qualities are most likely to ensure your success

Most employees find it easy to list their technical skills — knowing certain software, understanding certain business processes, or being able to perform certain tasks. While this practical know-how remains important, the skills that will most help advance your career in the future are much less tangible.

Over the past two tumultuous years, businesses have learned that specific “soft” skills are the most valuable traits in an employee. Take a look at this list and see which qualities you already possess — and which ones you might want to work on developing or strengthening.

3 essential skills for the future

In a survey of nearly 200 companies from various industries, Mercer identified the following three individual skills as being most important in the next three years:

  1. Growth mindset and adaptability
  2. Skills related to people development
  3. Stress tolerance, resilience, and flexibility

Growth mindset and adaptability

As we saw with the sudden shift to remote work during the pandemic shutdown, being able to adapt to a new way of working is a critical skill. Adaptability also means being willing to quickly learn new skills or take on new job responsibilities.

Hand-in-hand with adaptability is a growth mindset, which means being open to new ideas and believing that learning is a lifelong endeavor that’s never done. With a growth mindset, you believe your intelligence and abilities aren’t static, but rather they can be developed through dedication and hard work.

Here are six ways to develop or strengthen a growth mindset:

  1. Embrace failure. View every setback as an opportunity to learn and grow.
  2. Be curious. Never stop learning — at work and in your personal life.
  3. Accept challenges. Step outside your comfort zone and don’t shy away from obstacles.
  4. Push yourself. Strive to achieve just a little more than you thought possible.
  5. Don’t give up. If you find yourself saying, “I’m not good at this,” just add “… yet.”
  6. Invite feedback. Let go of your defensiveness and treat all input as valuable lessons.

People development skills

It’s no surprise that people skills are important — businesses are communities of people, after all. Being able to connect, motivate, and collaborate are critical. And, given the increase in remote working and fast-paced business goals, being able to build rapport both virtually and quickly are extremely important. The key is to keep it real — be yourself, be curious, and be open. Success in relationships will come from the ability to listen, empathize, share, and learn, while helping others grow and develop.

Stress tolerance, resilience, and flexibility

It’s impossible to avoid stress, so being able to tolerate stressful situations, respond with flexibility, and bounce back are key skills.

Everyone has an ideal level of stress that they find motivating and exciting, but not overwhelming. To increase this threshold:

  • Keep an optimistic mindset, looking for opportunities within challenges.
  • Stay focused on the bigger picture rather than giving too much attention to smaller obstacles.
  • Allow yourself time to recover — take breaks, unwind with enjoyable activities or de-stress with exercise or meditation, and be sure to get enough sleep.

Closely related to stress tolerance is resilience. Being resilient means having the ability to recover quickly from difficulties. When faced with a difficult situation, are you able to rise to the challenge and move forward or does adversity tend to knock you down and set you back?

You can increase your resilience by staying aware of and open to new information so you can adjust your approach based on fresh ideas. It also helps to practice letting go of negative feelings and adopting a positive attitude as you work toward a solution.

In addition, being flexible is important since change is inevitable. Having the skill of flexibility means keeping an open mind and being ready (and willing) to shift direction quickly. Inflexible thinking often results from a lack of confidence in your ability to do something different. To combat these feelings, keep learning new things — you never know when that knowledge will come in handy.

“Mercer Skills-Edge Suite: Future Skills Survey Report,” Mercer, 2021
“The Future Of Work Will Demand These 8 New Skills,” Forbes (, Tracy Brower, February 14, 2021
“How to Raise Your Stress Tolerance,” Entrepreneur (, Nadia Goodman, April 15, 2013
“The Top 16 In-demand Soft Skills for 2022 You Need to Master,” LinkedIn (, February 23, 2022
“How to Be Flexible at Work,” Indeed (, December 29, 2020
“Why a Growth Mindset Is Essential For Career Success,”, July 9, 2019.
“What Having a ‘Growth Mindset’ Actually Means,” Harvard Business Review (, January 13, 2016.
“Carol Dweck Revisits the Growth Mindset,”, September 22, 2015.
“The Effort Effect,”, March/April 2007.
“15 Ways to Build a Growth Mindset,”, Apr 11, 2019.
“What Is Growth Mindset? (And Why We All Need It),”, September 13, 2018.