The COVID-19 pandemic sent shockwaves through the working world. It made working from home a household phrase.
While it seemed like a dream come true for many — long commutes were no longer needed and cozy pajamas replaced business attire — it also revealed a hidden snag. As video meetings replaced water cooler chats and emails took the place of in-person brainstorming sessions, soft skills slipped through the virtual cracks.
7 Ways Soft Skills Help Employees
- Problem solving
- Relationship building
- Navigating conflicts
- Empathy and understanding
The casualties? Communication and collaboration.
As people slowly return to the office, employers realize that it’s necessary to re-train them on the art of face-to-face interactions.
10 Reasons Soft Skills Matter
In the modern world, digital and technical skills reign supreme. But it’s necessary to recognize the indispensable value of interpersonal and communication abilities, too.
In fact, 65 percent of HR managers think the combination of digital, interpersonal and cognitive skills will be essential for succeeding, especially in the AI era. When employees grow their soft skills, they:
- Focus on problem-solving, bringing creative solutions at work.
- Bridge the gap between technical competence and real-world application.
- Build strong work relationships fostering collaboration.
- Become more adaptable, navigate challenges with ease and ensure smooth transitions in evolving work environments.
- Master online and offline communication, ensuring clear and concise information exchange.
- Cultivate a positive and inclusive work environment, boosting morale.
- Showcase empathy and understand and respond to the needs of colleagues.
- Encourage innovation and contribute to a culture of continuous improvement.
- Navigate conflicts constructively, promoting a harmonious workplace.
- Collaborate seamlessly across diverse teams, leveraging a variety of perspectives.
Cost-Effective Ways to Provide Soft-Skills Training
Small businesses don’t need to spend a large budget on soft-skills training or limit themselves to a one-off event. They can still provide effective training to their employees by following these practical tips.
Identify key soft skills needs
To effectively identify key soft-skills needs, managers should engage in a comprehensive analysis of industry trends, business goals and the specific requirements of roles within the organization. Conduct surveys or interviews with team members to gain insights into the soft skills they need to succeed. Collaborate with HR to discover which skills will contribute most to the team’s effectiveness. This strategic approach enables businesses to align their training efforts with the most impactful soft skills and optimize resource allocation, too.
Use ready-made courses
Online training platforms offer a variety of ready-to-go courses that cover communication, leadership and teamwork and other topics. Managers should explore these platforms to find courses that align with the identified soft-skills needs. This cost-effective approach saves time, making soft-skills training accessible for businesses of all sizes. Make sure to add new courses as often as needed to address any soft-skills requirements that may come up.
Offer in-house workshops and seminars
Sometimes, budget constraints limit extensive training programs. In that case, businesses should tap into the knowledge and expertise of their existing teams or local professionals. Conduct targeted in-house workshops and seminars tailored to the specific soft skills your teams need. This makes the most of internal talent and fosters a sense of community and knowledge sharing among team members.
Encourage peer learning and mentoring
Create a structured program that encourages more seasoned employees to mentor newer team members. The focus should be the transfer of essential soft skills. This peer learning approach offers a hands-on and personalized learning experience. Managers should facilitate these connections, ensuring that mentors and mentees have opportunities to discuss and practice soft skills in real-world scenarios. This enhances employee soft skills and reinforces a collaborative and supportive workplace culture.
Build a culture of feedback and self-assessment
Establish a culture of continuous improvement by investing in regular performance reviews on soft-skills development. Managers should provide specific, constructive feedback that acknowledges strengths and guides improvement. Implement self-assessment tools such as quizzes and questionnaires to encourage employees to assess their own soft skills. This promotes self-awareness and empowers people to take ownership of their development. As a result, the organization builds a workplace culture that values growth and learning.
How Businesses Benefit From Soft-Skills Training
Small businesses can benefit significantly from training their employees on soft skills. These skills are essential for overcoming challenges associated with growth, resource limitations and agility. Here are some examples of what small businesses can gain from soft-skills training.
Growth and scaling
Usually, small businesses begin with a tight-knit team and a focus on a specific niche. Aiming for growth, they target various markets and a broader range of customers. Communication, adaptability and customer relationship management are crucial soft skills for navigating such territories. For example, communication helps attract a wider customer base and address different cultural backgrounds.
Small businesses typically operate with limited resources and demand maximum efficiency from their employees in the way they handle them. Time management, problem-solving and critical thinking are necessary for making the most of available resources.
Adaptability and agility
Market conditions rapidly change and small businesses often face unpredictable challenges. Adaptability, resilience and stress management empower people to thrive. Even in times of uncertainty, when teams quickly adjust to new circumstances, identify opportunities, and manage stress effectively, the business becomes more agile and resilient.
Happy customers are more likely to return, recommend the business to others and contribute to sustained growth. The key to this is exceptional customer service. Employees need empathy, problem-solving and active listening skills to create these positive customer experiences.
Soft skills training transforms employees into versatile communicators, agile problem solvers, and collaborative stars. Organizations are also able to propel business growth and foster inclusivity, whether their teams work from home or are returning to the office.
In this rapidly changing work environment, an ongoing investment in soft skills is the key to success. And it’s not just about facing today’s challenges; it’s about actively shaping the future of work.