That’s right: Online learning is an effective way to teach soft skills within organizations. With the right approach, your e-learning program is just as effective face-to-face training – even when you’re teaching so-called “people skills.” This article explains why.
Why offer soft skills training?
For some people, working in teams doesn’t come naturally. Others struggle with time management or personal productivity. Fortunately, these are all skills that people can learn. The solution is soft skills training.
This relatively new area of learning and development (L&D) focuses on “people skills” and personal management skills. We all need soft skills to do our jobs. Some common soft skills training topics for the workplace are:
- Interpersonal communication
- Time management
- Conflict resolution
- Company culture
- Service orientation
- Stress management
- Personal productivity
The list goes on. It’s easy to see why so many companies of all sizes embrace soft skills training for their teams. Imagine how much easier it is to work in a team where everyone understands conflict management and interpersonal communication, for example. And how much more your employees can achieve with a well-trained service mentality and solid time management skills.
Using e-learning for soft skills training
Digital culture is such a huge part of daily life now. New technologies make online experiences more and more lifelike. Think of how instant messaging, social media and online shopping now blur the boundary between online and offline.
The exact same applies for e-learning. The right e-learning platform gives your learners an interactive, engaging training experience that’s just as meaningful as in-person training. But the emphasis here is on the “right” platform. Choose your approach wisely, and watch those soft skills grow within your organization.
Here are three ideas for using e-learning to meet your company’s soft skills training needs.
1. Simulations: Solving soft-skills problems
Modern e-learning platforms let you create rich, immersive learning modules. This turns topics likes conflict resolution and interpersonal communications into interactive, scenario-based learning activities:
- Set the scene: Present the learner with a scenario in which they need to apply specific soft skills to solve a problem. It’s up to you to decide the level of detail. You can present the scenario in text, video or audio format, for example.
- Prompt a response: Let your employee respond using multiple-choice.
- Provide instant feedback: If the employee makes the right choice (responding effectively), immediately explain why they did the right thing. You might even provide an extra tip or useful piece of information at that point. If they choose the wrong answer, explain why it’s wrong, and steer them towards making a better choice.
Why it works
This approach encourages employees to imagine real-life situations. By responding to realistic scenarios, they learn by doing. Practicing soft-skills this way in a low-pressure e-learning environment helps learners internalize useful skills and establish good habits.
Make it relevant
Make sure that the scenarios you present are realistic. They should apply specifically to the employee’s work situation. Add details that evoke the employee’s real-life workplace.
2. Microlearning: Building good habits
Soft skills are all about developing better habits. This is a gradual process. It takes frequent reminders or “nudges” to get people moving in the right direction on their soft skills.
Microlearning is a useful e-learning tool for serving small nuggets of useful information to your learners. It can be offered in the form of push notifications from your mobile e-learning platform, or as small training modules that cover a single, bite-sized lesson each day.
Use microlearning for topics like stress management, time management or company culture. These topics can be broken down into small nuggets that you provide gradually to your learners over time. Try thinking of tips or life hacks that can be used to promote the right kinds of behavior within your company.
Why it works
Microlearning is effective because it prevents information overload. Spreading out the knowledge achieves much more than trying to pile on loads of information all at once.
Make it accessible
Be sure to make all your microlearning content available on demand. Since the modules are bite-sized, they are ideal for repeat viewing and sharing. Learners will enjoy referring back to tips they found useful.
3. Videos: Demonstrating soft skills
Many soft skills, such as interpersonal communication, teamwork, customer service mentality and company culture involve complex emotional situations. Video is a great format for demonstrating knowledge and skills in action.
Bring your online soft skills training to life with videos containing dialogue, facial expressions and reenactments.
Why it works
Video is a far more immersive training material than text alone. It captures the viewer’s imagination by appealing to multiple senses at once.
With video, you show soft skills in action. This is more engaging for the viewer, because instead of “telling” them what to do, you are “showing” them. They learn more instinctively this way.
Make it personal
To get the most out of video training, focus on people. After all, soft skills are people skills. If possible, ask real team members to participate in the videos. For example, film interviews of real employees in which you ask them what company culture means to them.
This adds realism to the training. By making it personal, you increase the emotional impact. That makes the material more likely to stick.
Move your soft-skills training online
E-learning is more interactive than classroom training. It also has a much broader reach. You can make it available via the cloud to learners throughout your organization. Best of all, learners can access the content on-demand at the times when it matters most to them.
Now, you can reap all the benefits of e-learning for your soft skills training too. Try applying the tips above and see how e-learning enriches soft skills at your organization.