Many believe that e-learning isn’t an effective method for teaching soft skills, but don’t be fooled: When it’s done well, e-learning can be a powerful part of a blended learning portfolio and a driver of the behavior change that signals success for any training program.

Why Soft Skills Matter

For both individual and organizational performance, most business leaders say that soft skills are at least as important as technical skills. Most also report significant challenges when it comes to finding talent with the soft skills to support effective collaboration, customer service, employee engagement, productivity, innovation and many other workplace capabilities that fuel bottom-line business results.

Demand for soft skills is expected to grow in the coming decade. Continuing evolution of artificial intelligence and machine learning will only make soft skills more valuable as the differentiators we humans can bring to the table. The combination of current hard-to-find skills and greater projected demand in the future puts soft skills training at the center of learning and development priorities – now and in the coming years.

Powerful Training Is Multi-Faceted

It may seem counterintuitive that we can use a laptop, desktop, tablet or phone to explore and develop a range of capabilities that center on effective interactions with others. However, in some core ways, learning soft skills shares similarities with learning the science, technology, engineering and math concepts underlying technical skills.

What aspects of training are valued by your organization? Some critical characteristics of effective courses (and well-designed e-learning) help drive successful outcomes regardless of the knowledge and skill sets for which you’re training:

  • Appeal to varied learning preferences
  • Convenience and clarity
  • Ease of access
  • Engaging and relevant content, enhanced by interactivity and personalization
  • A safe learning environment offering practice opportunities and just-in-time performance support

Mastering soft skills – and technical skills – is about understanding ideas, the benefits of leveraging skills and the risks of not doing so. Also important are learning to accurately recognize situations that call for particular skills and refining our ability to apply those skills. Some learners equate changing soft skills (such as communication styles) with changing who they are. Effective soft skills training must overcome this resistance, and high-quality e-learning, individually or as part of a blended L&D portfolio, delivers features that support success.

Choose Well-Designed E-learning for Soft Skills Training

Recent research on current insights in workplace learning preferences found that employees want engaging content that is fast, easy to consume, and relevant both on and off the job. Also important to many workers is the ability to learn at their own pace, with anytime, anywhere access via multiple devices.

Those preferences underscore a growing emphasis on personalized and self-directed learning. Personalization describes training that is customized based on such factors as job roles, organizational levels, and favored learning methods and pace. Self-direction speaks to employees’ taking ownership of their training by setting goals, deciding how and when they will learn, and gauging their progress. Learning pathways can provide structure for that autonomy by enabling learners to select from progressive arrays of topics and courses that they must complete en route to proficiency and/or career advancement.

In the hands-on world of self-directed, personalized and engaging training, well-designed e-learning is a great soft skills training choice. Look for these signs of excellence when selecting e-learning products:

  • Visual, auditory and interactive elements that appeal to all learning preferences and pathways
  • Anywhere, anytime access across geographies and devices
  • Engaging, relevant and masterfully told stories built on real-world scenarios
  • Learning reinforcement through job aids, leader guides, assessments and reminders
  • Content enriched with microlearning modules, podcasts and personalized features
  • Measurable change supported by behavioral examples and guided safe practice for new and complex skills

Choose top-quality content, and the next time someone tells you that e-learning doesn’t work for soft skills training, you can tell them to think again.