Why soft skills should be at the heart of your people strategy
Ask any company where most of their budget goes and, chances are, the answer will be the same across the board: people. The individuals that make a company tick also often happen to be the company’s highest cost factor. If technology was a company’s most budget-draining factor, that company would likely want to ensure the technology they were investing in was efficient and up-to-date. Yet, many companies aren’t taking that same focus and investing in developing their biggest cost factor, the people who work for them.
Because of the focus on technical, or ‘hard’ skills of both schools and businesses, many workers alike are unprepared and unarmed with the soft skills that will future-proof their careers. Putting your people first will improve virtually all areas of business.
Invest in the future of business
According to the World Economic Forum, the rising demand for soft skills such as communication, emotional intelligence, empathy, creativity, strategic thinking , and imagination will make soft skills 40% more crucial to the success of a business by 2020 (1). Businesses need to switch focus away from training in the hard and technical skills that, through automation, will soon become obsolete and instead invest in the future of their employees and the longevity of the company by providing training and development opportunities that will allow their staff to develop their future-proof soft skills.
Improve productivity and efficiency
A company is only as productive as the people working for it. Strong soft skills in areas such as communication, collaboration, time-management and multi-tasking have a direct and immense impact on an employee’s productivity levels and therefore those of the company they work for. When it comes to targets, goals, and milestones, employees with developed soft skills foster a clear line of communication between employees and management, as well as between a business and its clients.
Employees who have developed their soft skills communicate effectively and work efficiently both individually and as team members meaning processes tend to be quicker and more efficient. Soft skills savvy workers also tend to decrease conflict quickly and effectively by applying creative problem-solving skills to workplace issues, causing misunderstandings and mistakes to reduce and productivity rates to soar.
Check out the 5 most important soft skills of the future here.
Boost retention rates
Employees who work for a company that values their growth by investing in their personal development tend to extend their time with the company. Linkedin’s 2018 Workplace Learning report suggests that 94% of employees would prolong their stay in an organisation that invests in their career development (2).
Attract new talent
In the same way personal development encourages increased retention within a company, mentioning your company’s investment in the growth of their employees in a job posting is more likely to not only attract more applicants to the posting but also increases the potential that those candidates are interested in their own proactive skills development and growth within the company. 83% of employees would choose a new employer over their current one if it offered more training and development (3).
Prepare new and future managers
Not only does investing in the personal development of employees encourage them to grow within the company, it also prepares them with the skills to handle the challenges, relationships and responsibilities that come with moving to a new role. When it comes to developing the soft skills that are crucial for success in a leadership role, new managers are some of the most neglected individuals in business (4). Lack of soft skills training means many managers are not set up for success in their roles with 60% of new managers under performing in their first two years on the job (5). Investing in soft skills training of new and future managers is not just crucial to the success of these leaders but of their teams and the organisation as a whole.
Putting people at the core of a company by valuing their growth and development is not only a great way to boost culture within a company but is also a fantastic business move as well. The best part? With flexible, cost-effective digital learning, this investment does not have to be expensive or time-consuming either.