ADVICE

Why soft skills training is more important than ever during a pandemic

SOURCE: Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP
As more and more people work remotely, soft skills are especially important to develop.


By U2B Staff 

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Looking to upskill or reskill during the pandemic? Sure, you can look to brush up on hard skills, like learning to code — it might give you an edge over the job competition, but experts are increasingly suggesting that you work on your soft skills as well.

Soft skills training includes programmes that help employees at all levels develop transferable skills. These qualities include teamwork, empathy, creativity, communication, problem-solving, agility, and more.

Due to the economic hardships brought on by the current pandemic, company budget cuts may cause some organisations to cut soft skills training as they deem it less important compared to technical skills.

According to ROI experts Jack Phillips, Patti Phillips, and Rebecca Ray, this could be because some perceive that the impact of soft skill training cannot be accurately measured.

They have now released a book entitled Proving the Value of Soft Skills: Measuring Impact and Calculating ROI, which offers a new methodology for showing the ROI of soft skills programmes.

According to the press release, “The authors assert that an organization’s mastery of soft skills (skills that are transferable, personal, and interpersonal related such as teamwork, empathy, creativity, communication, and complex problem-solving) will often define the difference between thriving and surviving.”

Jack Phillips said, “Because of the recession caused by COVID and resulting budget cuts, it is more important than ever to consider soft skills programs. There is an even greater need for them now than before the pandemic. But we see soft skills programs facing many challenges.

“The problem is that most executives aren’t shown the value of the soft skills programs in the terms they appreciate and understand—unlike what they may receive for hard skills (job-related skills that are profession-specific). The challenge is to evaluate key soft skills programs at the impact and maybe even the ROI levels.”

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Why remote working requires soft skills training

According to Mark Nevins, a contributor for Leadership Strategy on Forbes, the economic disruption in 2020 has forced all of us to rethink how to develop and train people while strengthening organizational capabilities and culture during remote working environments.

He wrote, “Managers must coach more (as they should do anyway), and HR and training departments have to get more creative in their programming.  Simply putting people-development on pause until we “get back to normal” is not an option, because we’re not going “back to normal” anytime soon, if ever.”

Organisations that invest in soft skills training now can better future-proof their companies and employees, as they proactively encourage them to develop skills such as resilience, agility, and innovative thinking.

A study by Adecco Group was recently conducted to understand the shift in work attitudes during the pandemic. Upon surveying 8,000 office-based employees, managers and C-suite executives from around the world, the study found that two-thirds of respondents say additional training on remote working and soft skills, such as teamwork and problem solving, will be important in the post-pandemic workplace.

The importance of investing in soft-skills training as an individiual or for your employees should not be overlooked in uncertain times.

There are plenty of ways to work on your soft skills online, such as through online courses, webinars, and online workshops.

Google Digital Garage offers free soft skills online courses in partnership with Open University consisting of 8 modules.

These courses include ‘Effective Communication in the Workplace,’ ‘Developing Career Resilience,’ and ‘Leadership and Followship.’

If it’s your communication skills you want to work on, check out the Interpersonal Communication Skills online course by Cornell University.

In this course, Professor Pam Stepp, Ph.D., of Cornell University’s ILR School will guide you as you discover how interpersonal communication will impact your team, and you will reflect on your past performance, analyze your strengths and weaknesses, and determine an actionable plan for future performance.

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