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An employee’s degree might help them get a job, but their soft skills will help them stay employed.
Most employers nowadays are looking for workers with solid soft skills, which are difficult to find. According to a recent study by America Succeeds, employers seek soft skills nearly four times (3.8X) more frequently than the top five hard skills.
From as early as the recruitment phase, companies prioritize soft skills in new hires and often dig deep into a candidate’s resume to find those key competencies that are essential to the workplace. This makes sense, considering that a bad hire can cost up to 30% of their annual salary – a relatively high percentage that can be detrimental to any business.
So if you are an employer and realize that your employees lack such skills, it’s your responsibility to build the foundations that help to address the issue effectively.
To help your employees improve their jobs, give them access to soft skills training.
In this article, we’ll guide you through proven ways in which you can make your employees’ soft skills more effective. Also, we discuss the importance of soft skills in the modern workplace.
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What are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are transferable to any job and describe the personal attributes that allow individuals to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. Often referred to as durable skills, 21st-century skills, or workplace skills, soft skills are a set of key capabilities that can boost career durability, allowing workers to advance and meet professional demands.
Soft skills come naturally and are unique to every individual. They combine the usage of the knowledge employees already possess as well as the character skills that help them succeed in the long run, like a growth mindset, adaptability, and fortitude.
Soft skills differ from technical skills, which can be measured more easily and are specific to a career field.
Examples of Soft Skills
The list of soft skills is quite long, proving just how skilled the workforce – and your staff, need to be. Soft skills include, but are not limited to, communication skills, teamwork, time management, public speaking, and leadership, amongst others.
Here are some of the most essential soft skills:
Poor verbal communication is one of the leading causes of workplace conflict. Developing communication skills, otherwise known as interpersonal skills or people skills, can help employees learn how to interact and exchange information with their coworkers respectfully and practice active listening.
Disputes between coworkers or customers are inevitable, but they don’t have to turn into full-blown conflicts if handled correctly. Conflict resolution training can teach employees to handle disagreements effectively and also provide excellent customer service.
Critical thinking is the ability to assess a situation effectively and decide which course of action is the best. Such skills allow employees to analyze facts, evidence, and arguments by applying clear and rational thinking that helps them form a judgment.
Public speaking can help employees communicate important messages inside and outside of your organization. It builds on self-confidence, improves communication skills, and strengthens the ability to engage with an audience effectively.
Creativity and innovation
Creativity and innovation are all about thinking clearly and reacting quickly to problems. Your employees can learn how to use their imagination and propose original ideas either to improve business processes or upgrade your product or service. They can get word timesheet templates to organize work processes and operate logistics.
The ability to work as a team is crucial to completing projects on time and meeting deadlines. Teamwork skills training can help employees learn how to cooperate productively with their colleagues and achieve great results while having a shared purpose in mind.
Unfortunately, feeling overwhelmed or stressed out at work is all too common. Stress management training can teach employees relaxation techniques and strategies for managing stress effectively.
Poor time management can lead to missed deadlines and productivity issues. Time management training, along with the use of employee time tracking software, can help employees better organize their time and complete tasks on schedule.
Just like conflicts, problems will always arise in the workplace, but with proper problem-solving skills, these problems will not become crises. Problem-solving skills training teaches employees how to identify potential solutions and implement them efficiently.
The ability to relate to others, manage one’s emotions, and show empathy – which can help you understand someone’s else perspective, is often underestimated. However, many studies show that EQ is more important than IQ, which can help minimize conflict, especially at work.
Being able to gather information and assess alternative options while looking at the pros and cons of a situation is a valuable skill. Decision-making allows employees to choose the best outcome for themselves, considering its short- and long-term consequences.
Project management is the must-have skill of leaders. However, every employee needs it to be able to plan and manage a project from the ground up. This ability often refers to managing risks, teams, and resources, budgeting, applying leadership, and offering direction.
Strong leaders are essential for any team or organization to succeed. Leadership training can give employees the skills they need to take on leadership roles while enabling and motivating others around them to do great work.
Technology has infiltrated every aspect of our lives, including the workplace. Technology training can help employees stay up-to-date on current technology trends and best practices for using technology and social media safely and responsibly in work settings.
The Benefits of Soft Skills Training
Employees with solid soft skills are more productive and likely to have better career opportunities. Organizations that provide employee training to help their employees develop their interpersonal skills are also more successful in the long run.
Investing in soft skills development can:
The importance of soft skills, though, doesn’t stop there. Many research findings back it up, including LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Report. According to the study, 91 percent of talent professionals agree soft skills are very important to the future of recruiting and HR. 89 percent also said that a new hire doesn’t work out because they lack essential soft skills.
A 2019 report from Deloitte confirms that by 2030, two-thirds of all jobs will be soft-skill-intensive and that hiring employees with soft skills can increase revenue by more than $90,000. This is huge!
In this fast-paced business environment, small business owners can also benefit significantly from enhancing their employees’ soft skills. Implementing a small business HR system can help streamline HR processes and support the development of these essential skills among your team members.
How Can You Increase Soft Skills Through Employee Training?
1Start a coaching or mentoring program
Employees who participate in coaching and mentoring programs can grow as professionals by discovering their full potential.
Both coaches and mentors can provide guidance and support on certain topics and fields, helping employees to stay focused on their goals. Employees can also learn from their coaches and mentors about the latest trends in their industry, as well as how to assess certain situations or navigate through difficult challenges.
Ultimately, coaching and mentoring programs can help employees contribute more meaningfully to their organization, building on their knowledge, self-confidence, and motivation.
💡 Learn the differences between coaching and mentoring here.
2Conduct live workshops
Live workshops provide a more direct and engaging training experience than other methods, like online courses or videos. They also allow employees to learn from one another and receive feedback in real time. This provides the opportunity for employees to get tips from experts, ask questions, and network with others.
To make the most of a live workshop, set your learning objectives early on, create a clear agenda and provide all attendees with background materials in advance. Encourage participants to ask questions and take advantage of opportunities using their communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and leadership skills.
Ensure that live workshops are customized to meet the specific needs of a team or department. For example, a workshop on customer service can focus on the specific challenges that employees are likely to encounter when dealing with a difficult client, boosting their conflict management and negotiation skills.
You could also ask employees what they would like the topic of the workshop to be and focus on your employees’ interests e.g., project management, public speaking, learning a foreign language, and so on.
3Encourage peer learning
The power of sharing knowledge is undeniable. Michael Jordan once said, “talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” Peer learning cannot only help build and grow stronger teams but also lead to improved performance and success for the business.
Encourage peer learning by facilitating learning activities that allow your employees to learn from each other. These can be structured in a way that enables employees to teach others what they already know.
There are many peer learning strategies to try out:
With the right tools – such as a collaborative workspace or online forums you can facilitate peer learning, which can be especially effective for remote training. While you are doing this, ensure that employees are held accountable for their learning and that are rewarded for their efforts.
4Offer online learning
Elearning is growing fast, and now is the best time to take advantage of it. With the increasing use of technology, learning has become more accessible than ever. As an employer, you can create educational content that meets the training needs of your employees easily.
Focus on the professional development goals of your employees, and teach them new skills as part of a wider soft skills training program.
To do this, you will need a learning management system (LMS) to onboard your employees and build powerful learning experiences while checking on their progress and performance.
💡 Learn how to use an LMS for upskilling and training here.
LearnWorlds offers all the tools you need to create interactive and personalized elearning experiences to help you onboard and train your employees. As your go-to online learning platform, it allows you to build powerful content and distribute it easily through your online academy.
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5Adopt a learning mindset
The desire to learn is necessary before learning can occur. When you are motivated to learn, you are more likely to pay attention, be engaged, and retain what you have learned. And workplace learning is no exception.
Developing a learning mindset can help build the foundations for soft skills development and instill an always-learning attitude in your employees, which is essential for their success – and your company’s success.
A learning mindset refers to the willingness to try new things, embrace change, and continually grow. Employees with a learning mindset are more adaptable, flexible, and open to new ideas. They are also more engaged in their work and more likely to be high performers. They have the ability to persevere when things get challenging, and they are more likely to transfer what they have learned to other situations.
Encourage a learning mindset by providing more opportunities for learning and development.
Explain to your employees just how important soft skills are for lifelong success, and build a company culture that supports employees in their efforts to advance.
Employees can develop their soft skills through recurring practice, which can be obtained through simulation training. In a VR and AR environment, they can practice and hone their skills without worrying about making mistakes as they would in real-life situations.
By putting them in simulated real-world scenarios, they can get a feel for handling different challenges and increase confidence or minimize stress while carrying out specific tasks. Simulation training can be customized to focus on certain areas that need improvement, test new solutions, or even try out different processes to see what works best.
Employee training in virtual environments is risk-free, allowing for greater creativity.
For example, as a surgeon who needs to operate a major surgery on a patient, you can go through simulation training multiple times to rehearse which exact steps to take to save your patient’s life.
Although it can be a costly option, simulation training can give your employees a unique hands-on experience and boost learning processes at large.
Role-playing is a great way to help employees develop soft skills. By putting employees in realistic situations and providing them with feedback, they can learn how to handle difficult situations and improve their communication skills.
Additionally, role-playing can be used to teach team-building skills and conflict-resolution techniques. With it, employees can learn how to work together more effectively and resolve conflicts in a constructive way. Role-playing can also help employees better understand their roles and align their behavior with company policy when used correctly.
Similar to simulation training – minus the technology, role-playing gives employees a chance to practice their skills in a safe and controlled environment.
So you can have two employees working in the same team to have a discussion to observe each other’s working style and responses and exchange views on the different ways to handle a situation. This should help them understand what is constructive or not and offer them immediate feedback.
8Provide opportunities for self-reflection
Self-awareness is a virtue that is essential for personal and professional growth. An excellent way for your employees to become more self-aware is by practicing self-reflection.
When looking internally, your employees can gain important insights into their character, strengths, and weaknesses. They can put their own skills and experiences to the test and identify key areas for improvement more easily. Self-reflection can help them understand which are the behaviors and habits that are hindering their skills development.
In the workplace, you can encourage this type of self-reflection exercise by allowing your employees to experiment and try new things. Maintain open communication always and develop a safe work culture that allows employees to ask for feedback whenever they need it.
Last, let them work as part of a group as often as possible to allow them to share different perspectives and exchange opinions on what they have learned.
Job shadowing is a type of employee training that can benefit employees who want to develop soft skills related to specific job roles. This method allows an employee to observe and learn from another employee who is already competent in the desired skill.
Job shadowing is effective because it provides first-hand experience and allows the trainee to ask questions and get clarifications as needed throughout the process. It helps employees recognize what they are doing wrong to improve their practice.
For example, they get to learn how to interact with customers and co-workers, negotiate a sales deal, lead a project or manage a team better. It’s cost-effective for businesses as well since it does not require additional resources or materials.
10Organize team-building activities
Who said employee training has to be all about PowerPoint presentations and meetings?
Unlike popular belief – training can be super fun, and this is true, especially for soft skills training. It only takes a small dose of innovation and creativity to get your people together and help them learn.
The best way to achieve this is to introduce a series of team-building activities among team members or teams. Team building helps employees develop teamwork, communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, and leadership skills.
Here are some team-building activities you can try out:
These are all great ideas, and there are plenty more!
What’s important here is to allow your employees to be more active, show initiative and excitement, and get themselves out of their comfort zone, enabling them to put their skills into practice.
As you can see, some training methods are more beneficial for certain individuals than others depending on how they learn–and it’s important to understand what type of training and instructional style would be most helpful for the individual soft skills you are targeting.
Building a Successful Soft Skills Training Program
Soft skills training for employees can be achieved in so many ways. While there is no right or wrong way of doing this, as an employer, you need to build an employee training and development program that gives your staff access to the best-in-class soft skills training resources.
Here is a step-by-step guide to help you build successful soft skills training programs to enhance your employees’ skill sets.
Step 1: Decide which soft skills you need
Before you dive into any type of training, make sure you know which soft skills your employees need to learn and develop. In doing so, identify which soft skills are associated with the business goals you are trying to achieve.
If you want to get increase customer satisfaction and improve customer experience, for example, you would want to invest in the customer service or communication skills of your support team.
Step 2: Choose the right training format
Whether it’s a live class or webinar, peer learning, simulation, online, or even blended learning – it can work well, provided that your employees are up for the challenge. If you are not sure which will work best for your staff, use surveys to gather some insights on what they prefer.
Depending on how informal your corporate training program is, you can incorporate team-building activities, add learning resources like online courses, checklists, or ebooks, and build an online community for your employees.
The training format will depend heavily on your company’s size, the location of employees, and the training content you plan to create. So think about all the practicalities involved.
Step 3: Create the training content
Build your training content around your employees’ needs and think of learning objectives. With an LMS, you get to choose whether you want to build your elearning material from the ground up or find ready-made content that can be incorporated into your training courses. Either is fine, but you have to think of the available time to build that content and your budget.
Step 4: Onboard your employees
Once you have decided on your content and learning platform, you are good to go! Let your employees know about the new training program and focus on the benefits it can have on their professional development.
Let them have a say in their learning by letting them choose the training that best suits them. Also, get your management or HR team involved in this to support your employees in the best way possible and offer incentives to boost their motivation.
As you progress through the training, keep measuring your data and results against your goals to see if it’s a viable long-term training solution.
Teaching Soft Skills to Your Employees Online
To grow your business, it is crucial that your employees develop solid soft skills. The ability to work well with others, manage conflict effectively, lead with empathy or simply be on time are just a few examples of soft skills your employees may need.
Not every method we exploit in this article will prove relevant to you, but you won’t know unless you try them out. And, while training needs are constantly changing, it’s important to keep upskilling your staff to help them achieve job success and see the positive impact you expect.
By providing employees with effective soft skills training, you equip them with the skills they need to be successful.
Further reading you might find interesting:
Kyriaki is a Content Creator for the LearnWorlds team writing about marketing and e-learning, helping course creators on their journey to create, market, and sell their online courses. Equipped with a degree in Career Guidance, she has a strong background in education management and career success. In her free time, she gets crafty and musical.