Hard skills—or proficiency with specific, demonstrable tasks—are critical for any job, but what about soft skills? Now, more than ever, employers are seeking candidates with strong soft skills, which include communication abilities, critical thinking, problem-solving, emotional intelligence, and leadership abilities. In fact, some career development experts argue that soft skills are more valued by employers than hard skills because they “help facilitate human connections,” which is key to building workplace relationships, gaining visibility, and creating opportunities for advancement.
But despite its ongoing importance, sometimes soft skills can be difficult to gauge in candidates during the recruitment process. Unlike hard skills, soft skills can be challenging to catalog and quantify. That’s why soft skills training should be a part of any organization’s professional learning and development programming. With these three tips, you should be able to implement processes to improve your employees’ soft skills.
Use formal and informal learning techniques.
For some workers, soft skills come easily. You’ll find these employees do not need much formal soft skills training, and they may be able to easily adapt within their work environments. However, many employees will need to work at developing these skills on the job. This is where formal and informal learning make a difference.
With informal learning, your employees will acquire soft skills simply by observing other employees around them. With formal learning, such as webinars or training sessions, employees will be provided with actual tools and methods to improve their soft skills, as well as learn their importance in the workplace. Offering both types of learning is mission critical to reaching your employees, who likely have different levels of talent and familiarity with soft skills.
Make soft skills part of employee evaluations.
As you regularly evaluate employees’ work performance through monthly or yearly reviews, consider making soft skills part of the evaluation process. This requires you to observe employees’ actions such as their ability to work in teams, communicate with patients, and exhibit professionalism with co-workers, vendors, and patients. Making soft skills part of an employee evaluation will put emphasis on the importance of these traits, holding employees accountable for their growth and behavior in this area.
Provide ongoing training and support.
A significant part of teaching soft skills to your employees is providing them with proper training and support. This means giving them access to professional development opportunities, as well as mentors who can provide regular feedback about their progress. Soft skills take time to develop, and giving your team ongoing professional development will keep them motivated and empower them with the tools they need to succeed.
As hiring becomes increasingly complex and competitive, you’ll see firsthand how prioritizing soft skills can help you hire the most competent candidates for your organization. These tips should help you to develop a workforce based on leadership potential, emotional intelligence, and strong relationships.