We’ve discussed at length why soft and hard skills are important and how to assess the skill level your employees currently hold. But, what if you want to increase their soft or hard skill level? Is it possible? And how do you do it?
The good news is that both skill sets are indeed trainable! Providing training for your employees’ skills is something an employer can and should do. We’ll walk you through this.
- Why should employers provide soft skills training?
- How to train soft skills
- Why should employers offer hard skills training?
- How to train for hard skills?
Why should employers provide soft skills training?
Soft skills aren’t measurable, which may put you off of training your team in these areas. After all, if you can’t measure the return on your investment, what is the point in making the investment in the first place?
While you’d be forgiven for making this initial assumption, just because the benefits can’t be directly measured doesn’t mean they won’t be felt. The following three areas will see a marked improvement if soft skill training is provided:
1. Employee experience
Employees who can communicate effectively, give and receive feedback, and manage their time in an organised way are more likely to have a positive employee experience.
The ability to inform their team members of what is and isn’t working in the current processes will mean things aren’t bottled up and left to explode. Additionally, the ability to prioritise the workload better will mean a better work-life balance and further improved experience.
2, Employee Retention
Another undeniable benefit of training your employees in soft skills is the rise you will see in your employee retention rates.
A huge 94% of employees have cited investment in their learning and development as a reason to stay at a company. And, a study from Boston College, Harvard, and the University of Michigan indicated that training specifically in soft skills can increase productivity and retention by 12%. This may not be surprising when you consider that with better communication and problem-solving skills, your employees will be equipped to let you know what is bothering them and will know how to fix this.
3. Filling management positions
Cost-per-hire is one of the most important statistics for companies to consider when recruiting for a role. With the cost of hiring being higher depending on the seniority of the role and a mid-level manager requiring about 6 months on the job to return the company’s investment, alternative ways to fill these positions are ideal.
One fantastic way to achieve this is by helping existing employees move into these management roles. Management training, leadership courses, and other soft skills development sessions can do this. The best part? This will help with employee retention, too!
How to train soft skills
So, you’ve seen the light. Training your employees in soft skill areas is well worth the effort. You’re ready to reap the benefits. But, how do you do this? Well, the following are a few of the most common soft skills that a team may need training on and how to teach them:
Soft skills training courses are a great way for employees to learn, and thanks to e-learning platforms such as Udemy, they’re easy to access now. There are plenty of courses in this area available online to choose from.
Alongside this, events are regularly held that can help to train your staff in different areas of leadership. Whether this is empathetic leadership, lateral leadership, or something more niche, you’ll be sure to find an event in your area to help learn more! Platforms like Eventbrite are a great way to get started.
One of the best ways to encourage strong time management skills in your employees is to provide them with mentorship. This is an interactive way of implementing soft skills training.
Mentors are a great way for employees to talk about their goals, whether personal or professional, and help to prioritise and work towards these. A mentor helps to sort through what is important and what can be put on hold, to ensure an employee is properly managing their time. Their mentor could either be a manager, an external consultant or a full-time workplace coach.
Find more about how mentorship and workplace coaching works in our article what is work coaching and why should you implement it?
One of the best ways to improve communication throughout your team is with well-thought-out team events.
This doesn’t simply mean going to the bar with your team, although this is for sure one way to bond. More challenging team events, with actionable activities or a clear goal in mind, are a great way to get your team communicating towards a common goal.
Offering some communication advice, tips, or techniques during the session is a great way to ensure they’re working on these soft skills during a low-stake situation.
As much as many of us hate to admit it, presentation skills are an extremely useful soft skill.
Whether your employees will be working with clients and presenting pitches, or speaking at industry events, ensuring their presentation skills are up to scratch is essential.
One way we have found works great for doing this is by organising lunch and learn sessions for our team.
A lunch and learn usually consists of one team member with a certain skill or niche area of interest presenting some information on this to the wider team. This can be done either with a presentation, a small product demo or a workshop.
This is a low-pressure soft skills training technique that allows different team members to practice presenting in front of some friendly faces. The best part? Our other employees can learn something too!
Why should employers provide hard skills training?
If you’re considering investing into giving your employees a hard skills booster, you may have your hesitations. Are your employees not already skilled enough? What will the payoff be? Is it worthwhile?
In short, it is. Employees can never be too skilled, and if you want to strengthen your team then it is time to invest in your staff’s hard skills. Here’s three reasons why:
1. You’ll keep up with the industry
Just because you’re not training your employees on the latest industry trends, processes, and updates, that doesn’t mean the industry isn’t changing. In fast-paced areas such as web development, healthcare, and design, things can change rapidly and if you’re not constantly learning you risk being left behind. Especially as your competitors may be training their employees while you hesitate!
2. Cross-department connection
Not all training needs to be improving on existing skills. Horizontal learning is just as important, and has the added benefit of improving your cross-department connections.
If you have two teams that work closely together, but don’t fully understand each other, then there is a chance that they’re not reaching their peak productivity. Providing basic hard skills training here can help them to better collaborate, speed up processes, and improve working relationships.
3. Expansion into new areas
Hard skills training can also ensure that your business doesn’t sit stagnant, and instead continues to grow and expand.
Say, for example, you have a Graphic Designer who is highly skilled at static images but hasn’t tried out any motion graphics yet. Providing this employee with training in this area will not only better their employee experience, but will mean your company can move forward in these areas.
How to train for hard skills?
There are countless different hard skills that exist in the professional world (and beyond!). So covering them all in one article would be near impossible. Instead, here are a few different hard skill examples (and how to train them) that can be adapted to your company needs.
Technical skills are sure to play a huge role in your company, whatever the industry.
One of the easiest ways to train these is via specialist courses. Whether this involves studying at a local university, taking a DistilledU course, or having a tutor come into your workplace to bestow their knowledge.
The best part of technical skills courses is that they can be tested and a certification or qualification can be earned. This gives your employee something material and gives you reassurance your money was well spent.
For more specific skills, it is also worth checking whether the tool of your choice offers a course of their own. For example, the Google Digital Academy offers online Google Analytics courses for free!
Language skills are an excellent way of expanding your company into new markets.
A great way to teach these skills is by teaming up with a local language school to offer group lessons or private tutoring for relevant individuals. Of course, e-learning platforms also offer these courses if school courses aren’t an option.
Marketing makes sure your product or service is actually something your customers can find. Just as a company can provide sales training, providing marketing training to other teams is a great way to get your name out there.
There are plenty of video courses, e-learning paths, and other ways to learn this skill. For example, LinkedIn offers a “Develop Your Marketing Skills” pathway that can help to teach you the basics and beyond.
Another excellent way to help employees learn new skills from any area of the business is to offer a certain employee the opportunity to work with another team.
For example, an Office Manager may benefit from doing a secondment with the HR department for a period of time. During this time, they may learn popular recruiting techniques, how to deal with onboarding employees, or other areas in which they can help.
This could be for a short or extended period, whether it is a full secondment, or simply shadowing another employee for a few days. Either way, the experience gained will be priceless!
Certifications are a great way to bring expert knowledge into your team, in a proven way.
This could be anything from a member of your team receiving fire marshall training or first aid training, to a more niche skill, such as a Warehouse Associate receiving their forklift training.
Other examples include:
- Delivery Drivers receiving HGV training
- Retail Assistants receiving cash register trainingFront End Developer receiving training in a new language
Certification courses can either be found locally or from websites such as Coursera.
Not everyone will be suitable for every skill
Upskilling is one of the best investments you can make for your team.
However, expecting every employee to be a master of everything is not a healthy outlook to hold. In some cases, it will be a better investment to bring a new team member on board than to try to teach an existing employee something they aren’t interested in or able to learn.
Luckily, bringing an employee on board is easier with JOIN. Our fast and free talent attraction software allows you to seamlessly build, promote, and manage your job postings all from one place. Therefore, we help you find and select candidates faster and more efficiently.
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