When we talk about professional development opportunities, a lot of discussions center around hard skills — the capabilities employees need for their roles. While helping employees learn the latest artificial intelligence (AI), marketing or healthcare developments is necessary, don’t assume that is the pinnacle of continuing employee education. As the world becomes even more interconnected, soft skills — like leadership, communication and emotional intelligence, which are sometimes referred to as human skills, are non-negotiables for companies that want a competitive and innovative edge.
Soft skills are relevant in all workplace settings and, more importantly, they are learnable. Some signs that your workplace may need a refresher on soft skills include high levels of turnover or quiet quitting, a lack of leadership or a problem retaining clients. Even if your organization doesn’t have a soft skills shortage, offering training to help employees improve interpersonal skills like active listening, conflict resolution and teamwork can make a big difference in the long run.
The Influence of Soft Skills Training
Research shows that promoting soft skills like effective communication and time management can result in increased productivity and increased employee retention, and can yield an over 250% return on investment (ROI). Here are some critical soft skills that your organization can foster with training:
- Teamwork: The ability to work well with others is critical in the modern workplace. However, employees have differing comfort levels when it comes to collaboration. Some people gravitate toward working on a team, while others prefer working alone. Despite these natural inclinations, everyone can improve their ability to work on a team.
- Work Ethic: While we usually think of “work ethic” as an intrinsic trait, this can be learned with ongoing training and reinforcement. This can have a direct positive result on productivity and performance. Leaders can also be taught to facilitate a strong work ethic among the employees they manage through different strategies (tailored to meet the needs and strengths of their team) and living out the values themselves.
- Communication: Communication is a blend of skills like active listening, non-verbal cues, confidence and self-awareness that together make employees competent in written and oral communication. Good communication skills can facilitate better teamwork, as well as more effective client relations.
- Decision-Making: The ability to make decisions under pressure is one that any organization should value. We can’t anticipate every problem that will occur at work, which is why teaching employees the skills they need to handle anything that is thrown at them is a good way to tackle a small challenge before it gets big.
- Emotional Control: Any workplace can get stressful — employees who have a strong sense of emotional control will handle it best. Teaching employees to recognize when they are having an emotional response and recenter before they make decisions will help them be more effective and efficient.
- Resilience: Every organization and project can have setbacks. What sets successful people apart is the ability to bounce back from defeats with continued focus and determination. That sort of tenacity can be taught in others and continually practiced. As we continue to navigate through economic downturns and the impacts of a post-COVID world, offering your employees training that helps them build resilience and adaptability is more critical than ever.
- Time Management: Effective time management is a skill that all employees need, regardless of their roles. In today’s fast-paced world of work, employees who can prioritize tasks, set goals and allocate their time efficiently are more likely to meet deadlines and accomplish their work. Providing time management training not only benefits individual employees but also contributes to the overall success and efficiency of the organization.
How Microlearning Supports Soft Skills Training
So how does microlearning play into the promotion of these soft skills? Unlike hard skills, which may require lengthier training, microlearning can be designed to address soft skills in an easily digestible format. Microlearning allows people to consume new information and ideas continually, in bite-sized pieces, which they can then reinforce and practice in their day-to-day settings. The device-agnostic nature of an effective microlearning solution allows learners to access content in their flow of work — whenever and wherever it works best for them.
In the ever-evolving modern workplace, the value of soft skills in contributing to ROI cannot be overstated. These intangible assets —communication, leadership, teamwork, adaptability and more — play a pivotal role in fostering productivity, employee satisfaction and organizational success. By investing in the development of soft skills among your employees, you’re not just enhancing the human element of your organization. You’re also making a strategic investment that pays dividends in terms of increased efficiency, reduced turnover and a thriving, adaptable workforce. In the grand equation of ROI, it’s clear that cultivating soft skills is not an expense but an essential investment that paves the way for sustainable growth and innovation.