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8 key soft skills that will enhance employee performance

Ensuring your employees are equipped with the right soft skills can set them up for success in their roles. We’ll walk you through what soft skills are, why soft skills training is important for employees, and how you can create the right resources to keep up with their learning needs.

5 min. read • Alexandra Hemmer

Soft skills, also called people skills or personal skills, are a set of essential competencies that can improve a person’s ability to work with others and even influence how they perform their job. For organizations, teaching soft skills to employees can mean an improved working environment and better business results. But what exactly are soft skills and how do you develop soft skills in the workplace? In this soft skills training guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know from the basic definition of soft skills and hard skills to the benefits of soft skills training and soft skills training examples to help you better develop your team.

What is soft skills training?

Simply put, soft skills are a combination of abilities related to people and social situations rather than a person’s technical abilities. Some common examples of soft skills are relationship-building, teamwork, communication, problem-solving, and leadership. Training your employees on soft skills like these can add immense value to your organization. We’ll cover the importance of soft skills training in more detail later.

Soft skills vs. hard skills

Unlike soft skills, hard skills focus on a person’s technical abilities. Hard skills are usually trained and learned over time with consistent practice. They also tend to be specific to job functions. For example, coding, graphic design, and data analysis are all types of hard skills. Hard skills are also much easier to measure, like with a test or assignment, which also makes it easier to certify someone’s competency in them. In contrast, measuring soft skills is much more challenging since they have to do with unique personality traits and character.

Top 8 soft skills training for employees

With many different types of soft skills training programs, we’ve narrowed our picks down to the essentials. Here are some of the best soft skills you should be training your employees on:

  1. Communication

    Good communication is beneficial for any role so it’s no wonder it’s at the top of our list as one of the best soft skills to develop. Communication skills are not just about speaking well and conveying your message clearly, but also about practicing active listening – listening intently to someone so you can respond meaningfully. This is key to healthy workplace relationships, whether with colleagues, potential clients, or existing customers.

  2. Teamwork

    Knowing how to collaborate with others may seem like a basic skill, but there’s a reason you’ve probably been taught this soft skill since your early school days. Simply put, we constantly find ourselves having to interact with others and develop trustworthy relationships. By training your employees in this soft skill, you set them up to work toward team and company goals in unison.

  3. Time management

    With never-ending backlogs and limited hours in a workday, time management skills are relevant to any job. Training this soft skill will set your employees up for better productivity and work-life balance. As a result, they’ll also have more room and focus to achieve their business and personal development goals.

  4. Leadership

    You don’t have to be in a managerial position to benefit from leadership skills. Any role that requires you to delegate tasks, provide guidance to teammates or customers, or demonstrate ownership of your tasks could help you develop into a leader. At the same time, training employees in this soft skill empowers them to receive feedback that can sometimes be tough to hear but is necessary for performance improvement.

  5. Negotiation

    Knowing how to negotiate well is an important soft skill for roles that focus on reaching agreements and closing deals. Sales positions are a common example, where Account Executives may need to negotiate valuable contracts with prospective customers in order to reach a mutually beneficial deal.

  6. Presentation skills

    Delivering a successful presentation is about more than just having visually pleasing slides. It’s important to know how to articulate your key points in a way that keeps your audience engaged throughout the presentation, all while making sure they develop clear takeaways.

  7. Emotional intelligence

    Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a key soft skill to learn how to manage your emotions as well as those of other people, which can play a major role in workplace interactions, especially in avoiding misunderstandings. The better you understand yourself and those around you, the better you’ll be able to manage your relationships.

  8. Critical thinking

    Thinking critically means being willing to analyze facts to form a sound judgment. Often, this also means second-guessing your opinions (and the opinions of others). This is particularly useful for making unbiased, and – therefore – professional decisions.

What are the benefits of soft skills training?

In an increasingly digital world, the demand for hard skills in the workplace is only going up. For example, without the ability to understand HTML and CSS, it’s impossible to become a professional coder. Because of this, it’s easy to overlook the value of soft skills in the workplace.

But soft skills can leave a positive impact that’s far from soft. In fact, soft skills can play a major role in the growth of your business and are also directly applicable to certain roles. Here are some examples of how soft skills training programs adds benefits for employees and the organization:

  • Higher employee retention

    Like all skills training programs, conducting soft skills training is a way of investing in your employees’ professional development. Not only does this show that your organization values its employees, but also ensures your current workforce is up to date with the latest skills needed to perform their roles — which can subsequently reduce your need for new hires.

  • Improved customer service

    While good customer service starts with hiring the right people, training your team on relevant soft skills ensures everyone is aligned on standards. For example, it can ensure that all team members understand express empathy when resolving customer concerns over the phone. It can also ensure your team is equipped with the necessary listening skills to identify customer concerns in the first place. Ultimately, the right soft skills can set your customer service team up to deliver a consistent brand experience for your clients.

  • Better sales approach

    Negotiation and problem-solving skills are key to a successful sales conversation with a prospective client. Training your sales team on these skills can set them up to identify pain points and respond accordingly. It also ensures your team is prepared to personalize their sales pitch to a prospective client’s unique background and needs.

How to teach soft skills to employees online

Now that you know the advantages of soft skills training, it’s time to consider how to develop soft skills in the workplace. Because soft skills can’t be easily measured and certified, the best way to teach soft skills to your employees is by creating quick resources they can refer to on the job for tips and answers to their questions. For example, you could create a short how-to guide for customer service representatives that offers communication tips for handling customer concerns over the phone. You could even create a checklist for sales professionals to remind them of the various ways they can respond to pain points during a call with a prospective client.

Easygenerator can help you create all these resources and more. Using our Checklist and How-to creators, you can easily share your expertise with teammates and develop soft skills in the workplace. Our user-friendly authoring tool is built with subject matter experts in mind, meaning you don’t need a background in instructional design to get started. Check out this template about effective presentation skills.

Resources are an engaging yet easily digestible way to meet your employees’ learning needs just in time. Learn more about how Easygenerator can help you coach your employees on soft skills by booking a demo.

Alexandra Hemmer
About the author

Alexandra Hemmer is a copywriter at Easygenerator. Originally from Singapore, she spent her higher education years in the U.S. where she kickstarted a career in content marketing and journalism. She currently resides in the Netherlands, embracing her Dutch-Indonesian roots.

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