The Benefits of Soft Skills Training for your Workforce Paula McNamee Published on November 22, 2018 For many organizations, hard skills are usually top of the list when it comes to hiring. That is, they’ll look for skills that are specific to the job itself, and the training or experience needed to perform the job well. While the importance of relevant education, training, and job experience cannot be understated, in this post, we’re going to focus on soft skills training, and why you should be training your workforce in these important abilities. After all, it’s great if you’ve got the most talented, qualified employees in the world on your team, but that won’t mean much for the success of your organization if they can’t work well with each other. What are soft skills? Rather than what your employees know in a professional capacity, soft skills focus on who people are, as opposed to what they are. Soft skills serve to represent your approach to life and work. Simply put, soft skills are interpersonal skills hardwired to an individual’s personality, and they characterize how you interact with other people in the workplace. Soft skills are basically the people skills, personality skills, and communication abilities your workforce needs for the long-term success of your organization. After all, almost every job requires employees to engage with others, either inside or outside of your organization. Soft skills vs hard skills We’ve already explained how soft skills are more personality-focused, rather than being based on qualifications or work experience. Soft skills include people skills, social skills, character traits, interpersonal skills, and transferable skills. Hard skills, on the other hand, are technical skills that are job-specific. The hard skills of your workforce come from education, certifications, training, and work experience. These skills can be taught, are measurable, and have the ability to be tested through exams and practical assignments. Hard skills can be learned and mastered over time, while soft skills are often harder to develop and can be difficult to evaluate and measure. Let’s use an example of a course instructor and examine what typical soft and hard skills would be required for this role. Instructor’s hard skills: Thorough knowledge of curriculum Developing lesson plans Developing education strategies Grading learner work, exams, etc. Using appropriate technology (LMS, uploading courses, etc.) Instructor’s soft skills: Communication Problem-solving Critical thinking Organization Leadership Soft skills examples Hard skills are undoubtedly essential. They are the basic level requirements that your employees must have in order to be able to complete their job function. But research has shown that soft skills account for 90% of what makes people progress up the success ladder. Now that we’ve defined what both soft skills and hard skills are, let’s take a closer look at some examples of soft skills that are important for any workforce. These include: Self-motivation Teamwork Creativity Time management Organization Flexibility Conflict resolution Positivity Communication Leadership Problem-solving Critical observation Why you should care about soft skills Soft skills are becoming more and more important, with many organizations giving them the credit they deserve. You should care about soft skills because they provide you with a confident, satisfied workforce that will sustain your organization. Many employers assume that the most practical of soft skills are standard when it comes to their employees, but this isn’t always the case. Assuming your workforce will simply know how to act in non-technical workplace situations is naive. It’s tantamount to assuming all employees have the same personalities! LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner has deemed soft skills to be the biggest skills gap in the US. When your workforce is plentiful in technical skills, but lacking in soft skills, you may notice that some elements of your business face challenges. For example, if your employees are well trained in obtaining customers, but not so wonderful at customer retention, you have a soft skills gap. You can work to alleviate any soft skills gaps in your business through training. Benefits of soft skills training courses LinkedIn carried out a study in early 2018 across 100 metropolitan cities in the United States and discovered a shortage of 1.4 million people with communication skills. Since soft skills, such as communication, can lead to the prosperity of your organization, training your workforce in these vital skills makes sense. There are a number of options for soft skills training for your workforce. You can dedicate entire courses solely to soft skills as part of employee onboarding, or you could add a soft skills section to your existing course content. By investing in soft skills training for your workforce, you’ll see many benefits including: More effective communication Your employees will be able to communicate more effectively with each other and with your clients or customers. They will be equipped with the skills to express themselves more clearly, listen, and tackle difficult conversations. Stronger leadership Your employees will be better able to delegate, provide feedback, accept feedback, take responsibility, and motivate themselves. Improved problem solving Your employees will be able to be proactive when it comes to recognizing problems and complications. Furthermore, they’ll be able to identify and implement solutions or offer alternative fixes. Enhanced creative and critical thinking Enable your employees to “think outside the box” both creatively and critically. Using these skills, they will be able to weigh their options, make informed decisions, and are more likely to get the desired results. Better teamwork, efficiency, and productivity Soft skills empower your employees to collaborate and work together in order to collectively meet company goals and objectives. In turn, this leads to improved efficiency and heightened productivity. While a focus on soft skills is becoming increasingly popular, hard skills should not be put on the back burner completely - soft skills and hard skills are equally important. Give both equal priority in your L&D strategy to build a well-rounded workforce that has the skills they need to do a great job.