Right now, one in three U.S. employees is considering leaving their job and changing industries. This mass reshuffling creates a dilemma for employers: How can companies attract this new talent pool while also retaining their current employees? The answer may be focusing on soft skills.

63% of employers say they would be willing to hire someone with transferable soft skills like teamwork, time management and leadership, and train them on the technical aspects of the job. However, employees don’t seem to recognize their value here — one-half of employers also agree that employees aren’t articulating their transferable skills well enough.

Many employees are unaware of how important soft skills are ​​and your employees are no exception. Soft skills help your company run smoothly and adapt to challenges. Without them, projects don’t get off the ground, worker engagement drops and executives, managers and employees struggle to do their jobs. By implementing a skills training program, you can improve employee well-being while giving your workforce the tools it needs to effectively collaborate.

Soft Skills Are Badly Needed in the Modern Workplace

Workplaces are collaborating more than ever. Research shows that the time employees and managers spend on collaborative activities has increased by more than 50% over the past two decades. Qualities like dependability, teamwork and problem-solving empower teams to tackle complex problems together. At the same time, lacking these soft skills can make collaboration a challenge.

Working with employees who don’t communicate problems, take initiative or meet deadlines can create toxic environments characterized by low productivity. Failing to prioritize soft skills can also increase turnover rates. 89% of recruiters say when a hire doesn’t work out, it usually comes down to a lack of soft skills, a LinkedIn report found.

Clearly, employees’ soft skills are just as important as their technical skills. The challenge for employers then becomes how to develop these skills over time. A long-term skills training program seems like the natural solution but trying to develop your program in-house comes with its own problems.

For starters, the types of learning and development (L&D) opportunities your organization can develop are limited by the skills and experience of your workforce. Put more simply, if your organization struggles with communication, it will also struggle to develop a program that teaches employees to communicate better. An unwillingness to access outside help limits your potential to your current ability.

Many employees also lack the bandwidth to engage with lengthy L&D programs. When workloads begin to pile up, your in-house program will be an easy thing to deprioritize.

Employers who don’t have the resources to develop in-house programs still need to find a way to train their employees. Partnering with a corporate training provider can help you deliver valuable programs for your employees.

4 Steps To Develop an Effective Soft Skills Training Program

Many skills training programs deal with hard skills. But as we’ve established, soft skills are just as important for employers. By developing an effective soft skills program, you can improve employee satisfaction and make your company an attractive target for job seekers.

Here are four steps you can take to create an effective soft skills program:

  1. Identify soft skill needs. Your soft skills training program will only be effective if it’s focused on areas employees are interested in improving. To identify these areas for improvement, conduct an internal audit of your company’s soft skills. Solicit feedback on how employees view your organization’s level of creativity, teamwork and work ethic. Another good starting point is identifying departments that lack defined leadership positions. A lack of strong leadership can create an inefficient department that struggles to communicate and work together. Reflecting on the findings from this audit will be valuable in helping you decide the best direction for the program.
  2. Find a reputable partner. Once you’ve zeroed in on a specific soft skill, partner with a corporate training vendor or educational institution that meets your needs. You’ll want to research universities or vendors that specialize in your desired skills. If you can’t find that, try developing a new program with the help of a corporate or academic partner. Reach out and brainstorm how you want to shape your program — consider factors like instructors, program length and content.
  3. Make sure it’s flexible. Arguably the most important factor for your program is flexibility. Employees’ schedules can change on the fly, and if you want them to take advantage of your program, it needs to work with them — not against them. Focused learning experiences like micro-credentials can give employees the flexibility they require. Micro-credentials are condensed learning experiences that demonstrate a person’s skill level in a particular area. They’re perfect for today’s workplace because they have no time limit and can be completed at the employee’s convenience. Your workforce will be much more receptive to these experiences than they would a rigidly scheduled lecture series.
  4. Create stackable degree programs. An advantage of partnering with educational institutions is the ability to stack micro-credentials into a larger qualification. For example, a manager who completes a leadership program could have the option to take additional courses for college credit. This option is a major selling point for prospective hires who want to earn a degree because they don’t have to choose between working and learning.

Soft Skills Are the Future for Both Employers and Employees

As employers and employees reevaluate their relationships with work, it’s evident that soft skills will play a vital role in the workplace. Employees looking to change careers must leverage their soft skills in a new field and employers have to provide these employees with skills development opportunities. Soft skills training programs offer a convenient solution. By recruiting the help of an experienced educational institution or corporate training provider, companies can build programs that address weaknesses and empower their employees to become continuous learners.