The bulk of training dollars is spent on teaching employees job functions, such as how to use specific equipment or follow set processes to create products and services.
And yet, when asked what makes their employees valuable, most business owners cite a completely different skill set than straight technical and functional skills.
In fact, in a 2011 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employees on the top five soft skills employers seek, business owners cited:
- Can work as part of a team
- Good verbal communication skills
- Ability to make decisions and solve problems
- Adept at obtaining and processing information
- The ability to plan, organize and prioritize work
Yet it is only recently that companies have started to implement creative e-learning programs focusing on soft skills.
Closing the gap between the need for soft skills and the training for soft skills is a growing priority for many organizations.
Evidence of the gap is everywhere.
The American Management Association’s 2010 survey of 2,000 executives concluded nine out of 10 executives cited enhanced soft skills as being important to supporting their business expansion, and less than half of those executives rated their employees as above average in those skills.
Training in the workplace through e-learning strategies is a viable way to close the gap.
In recent years considerable debate has taken place over whether parents, or schools or even universities are to blame for turning out workers devoid of essential soft skills like communicating, solving problems, thinking critically, using emotional intelligence and understanding the nature of work.
At this point, all that matters is that workers within many companies need to hone their skills if they are to be effective in helping the firm grow in the future.
Besides investing in soft skills training through e-learning, businesses also can cultivate a climate that places value of these essential traits by:
- ensuring any leaders who are promoted have excellent soft skills.
- making soft skills a significant part of each performance review.
- recognizing soft skills in employee achievements.
Businesses should especially know it’s time to pay closer attention to soft skills training when they are not retaining customers, good employees are leaving and few managers are exhibiting true leadership skills.
E-learning courses delivered in the workplace can be an effective way to shift the emphasis back to those crucial soft skills.