What are soft skills and why are they important?

The seven soft skills that benefit every employee in every organisation.

Al Thompson Head of Production

What are soft skills and why are they important?

Every organisation and employer knows only too well certain people have certain skills. Most often, that’s why they were employed in the first place.

However, to be successful, you need more from your people than just expertise in a given field. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employees (NACE), when employers were asked to name what they look for in candidates, they gave their highest scores to written communication skills (82%), problem solving skills (80.9%) and the ability to work as part of a team (78.7%).

Interestingly, attributes such as technical skills (59.6%) and computer skills (55.1%) ranked much lower. Clearly, soft skills are highly valued by employers and organisations, so their development would be of benefit to everyone, employees and employers alike.

What is soft skills development?

For many people, developing soft skills can be a sometimes-uncomfortable process. That’s because employees must first engage in a little self-reflection before they know what specific areas for improvement and training they need. While this level of introspection and honesty can be tough, it invariably also proves immensely rewarding.

In our experience, given the right learning environment and committed employees, honing and nurturing these skills can be a relatively simple and straightforward process. Helping employees understand that so they will improve their performance at work, as well as their interpersonal skills outside the workplace, and that they can be learned is also invaluable. Giving them examples of soft skills in the workplace – such as communication skills – also demonstrates the value of this kind of training and personal development. 

How to improve soft skills

The good news is that there’s no real need for a physical location for learning and developing, especially now it’s more or less impossible in current circumstances. With e-learning, employees can learn from anywhere. With a robust learning experience platform such as THRIVE LXP, soft skills training courses can be easily accessed, engaging and fun no matter where your learners are or what device they’re using.

What are the main soft skills you need to focus on?

They tend to be about how people think, act, and work rather than what they know and their technical expertise.  While the list of potential soft skills is extensive, we've narrowed it down to the core seven that have proven to be of most value to both employers and employees. So here's what your training programs could include:

Communication

So what are soft skills in communication? Being able to communicate effectively is perhaps the most important of all soft skills. It is what enables us to pass information to other people, and to understand what is said to us. Communications skills training can enhance written, verbal and non-verbal communication, such as body language, tone of voice and gestures.

Team Working 

Most employees are part of a team or department, and even those who are not need to collaborate with other employees. Developing teamwork skills will help everyone to accept others’ perspectives, listen to feedback, delegate work, and respect the different ways people work.

Problem-Solving

Challenges and stumbling blocks are all part of the job. Teaching the ability to find answers to pressing problems and formulate workable solutions is an essential skill for any workplace.

Leadership

Effective leaders assess, motivate and encourage. They build teams, resolve conflicts, and cultivate your organisation’s culture. Leadership skills training helps employees understand how to influence people and accommodate their needs.

Work Ethic

Spending time micromanaging people is unproductive. Work ethic skills include taking responsibility, being punctual, meeting deadlines and making sure work is error-free…and going the extra mile to perform every activity with excellence.

Adaptability 

Now more than ever, organisations need to stay agile and make fast changes to their operations to remain competitive in an ever-changing market. The same goes for employees. Employees who have the skills to handle different tasks and demonstrate a willingness to take on responsibilities that might lay outside their area of expertise are proving to be increasingly valued. 

Emotional Intelligence 

This is all about understanding emotions: yours and others’. An example of emotional intelligence is rather than openly criticising a colleague in public, an employee with emotional intelligence would wait to provide criticism in private and avoid embarrassing their colleague. Even this kind of behaviour can be learned with soft skills training.

Microlearning for soft skills development

With 500+ microlearning modules your learners will love, and at a price package that works for your organisation, THRIVE’s Content Club delivers off-the-shelf learning for soft skills and so much more. 

If you’re interested in soft skills development, or in microlearning with relevant and up-to-date modules that reflect the real world now, please get in touch with us, and we can help you explore the benefits.

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