When we apply for jobs, it’s common for us to highlight our technical skills: coding and development skills, experience with certain software, or statistical analysis. But where technical skills might help you meet the basic requirements of a job, soft skills training is what actually helps you clinch a job or advance in your career.
Soft skills are often defined as interpersonal skills, communication skills, problem-solving skills, and other abilities of this nature. Companies often invest in technical training, but studies show that investing in soft skills training might have an even bigger impact on the success of a company.
Let’s take a look at three reasons why your company should invest in soft skills training for its employees:
Soft skills training increases workplace productivity
In a recent study from Boston College, Harvard University, and the University of Michigan, researchers found that a group of workers that were given soft skills training were 12% more productive than the group that did not receive the training. The training also improved the retention of employees. Nine months after the study ended, the soft skills development helped generate an almost 260% return on investment.
Soft skills training as part of your whole person development plan can help you increase your own workplace productivity and employee retention by empowering employees in their work life.
Soft skills training will help prepare your employees for leadership positions
Regardless of your role or title, every person can benefit from the development of soft skills. That said, soft skills become more and more important as employees move into higher positions. A report by iCMS Hiring Insights which surveyed 400 HR and recruiting professionals found that 58% of recruiting professionals believe soft skills are even more important for leadership positions than entry-level positions.
From this same survey, 94% of HR professionals also believe that workers with strong soft skills have a better chance of being promoted at a company than an employee with more experience but weaker soft skills.
Skills like communication, problem-solving, emotional intelligence, and active listening are crucial to developing employees who are managing people at your company. In fact, 50% of employees leave their job because of a bad manager. Investing in soft skills training for your rising leaders can not only have a huge effect on their success in managerial positions but also on the job satisfaction of employees who work under them.
Automation is taking over a lot of industries
In response to the increasing automation in many industries, 95% of people believe they need new skills to stay relevant in their jobs. According to Accenture Strategy’s Harnessing Revolution: Creating the Future Workforce report, 86% of American workers would invest free time to learn new skills to stay relevant. Top skills articulated to stay relevant included the ability to change and learn, and judgment and decision-making skills.
The report details a need for employers to really invest in “re-skilling” their employees. This includes investing in soft skills training. Arming employees with these soft skills – skills that cannot necessarily be mastered by robots or computers – is crucial to empowering employees with the skills they need to be successful.
6 soft skills every leader needs
There are an extensive number of soft skills that are beneficial for leaders and managers to develop, but today we’ll be focusing six. They include:
- Awareness of unconscious bias
- Decision making
- Giving and receiving feedback
Let’s dive deeper into each of these soft skills.
Empathy is the ability to understand where someone else is coming from or why they feel or act the way that they do. By having empathy as a leader, you’ll be able to connect with your team and better understand how to support them in their own career growth. Practice empathy by asking thoughtful questions, or focusing on the shared emotions or experience you might have if you were in the other person’s shoes.
Awareness of unconscious bias
Whether or not we want to admit it, we all have unconscious biases. Unconscious biases are the underlying opinions you might have about a group of people based on stereotypes.
These biases can range from grouping people together based on your beliefs about their age group, gender, race, whether you have shared interests, whether they’re from, and more. The right soft skills training will allow you to recognize your own unconscious biases and face them head-on. By first acknowledging bias, we can then begin to combat it.
If you’re looking at the soft skill that is most likely to differentiate a leader from a manager, the ability to communicate might be it. Great communication means being able to flex your communication and leadership style to fit the team member you’re talking with and having the ability to motivate your team in the ways that resonate best with them. There are a number of different communication and leadership styles that are useful in any given situation. Unfortunately, not many first-time supervisor training programs teach these skills the way Verb does.
One of the most common tasks a leader will be faced with is making decisions. While not all decisions will be life-changing or difficult, a great leader should have the ability to make informed decisions quickly and with an understanding of the greater impact on both the business and team. While it may seem odd to think that you have to learn how to make decisions as a leader, having a thoughtful and focused approach can make the process smoother over time.
As a manager, your time and attention will always be in high demand. There will likely be days when you just can’t do it all- and the same is true for the team who works under you. It will be important that you can properly prioritize projects (try saying that three times fast) not only for yourself but for your team. With the right soft skills training, you can find ways to systemize this process and make smart decisions that alleviate pressure. Luckily, you can start learning this skill whether you’re in a leadership position or not.
Giving and receiving feedback
For many people- whether they’re an entry-level employee, first-time manager, or seasoned executive- giving and receiving feedback is hard to master. Simply put, many of us like to be positive, well-liked, and to not “stir the pot.” Unfortunately, this is a disservice to everyone involved. Feedback is one of the best ways we can grow and improve. By developing the right soft skills you can change your mindset and approach feedback in a more systematic way. Over time you’ll find this process will get easier and easier.
Are you ready to invest in soft skills training and development for your employees? Verb specializes in soft skills development with collections and activities centered around topics like giving and receiving feedback, communication, and empathy. Schedule time to talk to one of our educational experts to learn more.