Soft skills are just extras, right? Those “nice-to-haves” with no serious impact on the bottom line. Wrong!
If you believe that soft skills aren’t important enough to prioritize in training, you’re in the (misguided) majority. According to a survey by Udemy for Business, 72% of respondents admit to only providing training directly related to employees’ roles. Soft skills training for employees tends not to factor into that.
What Are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are personal characteristics, like knowing your own motivation patterns, the ability to work in a team, and leadership confidence. Now, if you’re thinking that people can’t train to develop a personal characteristic, you’re mistaken.
Soft skills training for employees can be effective when focusing on skills with long-term impact in the workplace. This includes skills like:
● Confident communication
● Time management
How Can Soft Skills Training For Employees Grow Your Business?
So, why are these soft skills are so desirable, anyway? Well, each one of them either directly or indirectly grows your business and boosts your ROI. Here’s how.
Conflicts, rivalries, misunderstandings – all of these can seriously undermine your employees’ productivity and happiness in the workplace. That’s why creating a sense of unity and strength of purpose is vital for healthy morale and high performance. But this can’t come from management alone.
Soft skills training for employees should teach them to deal constructively with their teammates, and resolve situations in the interests of a common goal. This kind of team is bound to be a more engaged team.
The self-aware employee makes the best of their strengths and knows how to improve on their weaknesses. These employees also ask for help when they need it, and treat others with compassion and respect. They know that they don’t always have all of the information or perspective they need, so they approach situations with an open mind.
Sounds great, right?
While some people are naturally more self-aware, soft skills training for employees can teach others to improve. The result? Employees that know what motivates them, what training and development they need, and how to apply these learnings to their work.
Whatever the line of work you’re in, you’re guaranteed to come up against some challenges from time to time. What you don’t want is a culture of giving up. You know, when everyone just throws their hand up in the air and says “this is harder than I thought, I’m out!”. Instead, employees that are ready to tackle problems head-on are a major asset to your business and ROI.
Soft skills training for employees teaches problem-solving skills that can be useful in every role. From C-suite executives to sales staff, everyone needs to be equipped to deal with risks and unexpected situations. For example, a salesperson can prevent the loss of a customer when they are able to deal with unusual or difficult complaints.
“The only constant is change.” A cliché, yes, but still it’s true. How your business operates, innovates, and meets customer expectations is bound to change many times. So, your employees need to be flexible when it comes to new ways of working, new technology and new business goals.
Supercharge your employees’ ability to adapt to change by offering them targeted soft skill development. This training will teach them skills for managing change, leading change, and keeping their cool in the face of shifting priorities.
Great leaders lead better teams and smash more goals, directly influencing your bottom line. But what makes a great leader? Well, a number of rare qualities, like compassion, foresight, impeccable decision-making skills, and self-motivation.
Training toward developing leadership qualities can be a little complex, but well worth the effort. Effective soft skills development can improve leaders’ abilities to motivate staff toward higher productivity, achieve strategic goals, and encourage general happiness in their teams.
Decisions based on misunderstandings are costly. In fact, research has found that 86% of employees and executives attribute workplace failures to a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication.
Preventing these misunderstandings, smoothing over conflict, and maintaining a positive attitude in the workplace are only some of the benefits of excellent communication skills. The time you save on miscommunication and improvements to morale translate to better productivity, and of course, ROI. And the good news is, communications skills can be developed through soft skills training.
If time is money, then there can be no more direct impact on your ROI than training employees to use their time better. Time management skills are often listed on CVs, but few people actually possess them.
Training in time management means a more effective workforce. But developing this skill also means that employees are less likely to have to work through lunch breaks and do overtime, which gives them more time to live that work-life balance. As a result, you’ll see more motivated employees and fewer sick days. Work the basics of time management into your soft skills training for employees to see your returns soar.
How To Implement Soft Skills Training for Employees
So, you’re ready to train your employees in soft skills, but where do you start? Just follow these four tips to improve your employees’ productivity and your business ROI through soft skill development.
1. Align soft skills training with your business goals
Draw a straight line between improving soft skills and improving your ROI by aligning soft skills development to your business objectives. For example, you might need to increase sales by 15%. So design your sales staff training around improved client communication.
2. Align soft skills training with your culture
Your culture will define so much of what you value in your employees’ soft skills. For example, if your culture is centered around learning and personal development, you’ll want to foster self-awareness in your employees.
Make sure that your organizational culture and values are encouraged through the soft skills you train. Every effort at soft skills training should reinforce your culture and values. This won’t only boost your productivity, but will also help to build the corporate culture you really want.
3. Use scenarios and role play with multiple possible outcomes
When creating soft skills training materials, try to stay away from passive content. Rather, try to incorporate interactive activities. Scenarios where learners get to make difficult social or ethical decisions, like resolving conflict, give learners opportunity to practice their skills in a safe environment.
Design these scenarios so that they don’t have one correct solution. Real life is full of nuanced situations that require a combination of soft skills to resolve. So, create a space for discussion after learners have completed these activities. This way they can compare approaches and learn from each other, too.
4. Make soft skill development ongoing through informal training and social tools
Personal characteristics won’t become part of daily behavior unless they’re practiced often and repeatedly. Formal training through infrequent courses and workshops isn’t quite enough when it comes to changing mindsets for the long run.
Take advantage of the power of social learning by making blogs, forums, polls, and video conferencing part of your learning toolkit. Any learning management system (LMS) worth its salt will offer at least some of these social tools. Learners can use these to solve problems, work on team projects, and share their opinions and solutions.
The power of soft skills training for employees is widely underestimated by many. So, pull away from the crowd and start harnessing soft skills to improve your ROI today. Start by making sure you have an LMS that offers a wide array of content, activities and social learning options so that you can get creative in your training.
Then, make sure you’ve got your business and culture objectives in mind – always! Then, use scenarios and ongoing informal training to keep stretching your employees’ soft skills. It’s as easy as that!
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