Employee learning and development has become a top priority for most organizations. So too, earning advanced industry certifications and learning soft skills has become the focus for many working professionals. The Glassdoor Employee Confidence Survey for the first quarter of 2016 shows that employee confidence is at an all-time high since 2009, and that around 20% prefer learning benefits as a perk. There is a new breed of executives who are taking the time to pursue advanced soft skills training in order to remain on top of their game.
Why soft skills training?
Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D, an award-winning author, international leadership educator and executive coach, told Training Magazine that, "As the war for talent is rising, the corporate world realizes the significance of leadership development training and soft skills training programs to emphasize interpersonal skills and build leaders.” There are several areas of soft skills learning that takes place on the job, but the rest must be augmented by other training resources. For this reason, more working adults are turning to self-learning tools to develop improved soft skills that can help them remain competitive.
Training tomorrow’s leaders with on-demand soft skills learning resources
Diane Belcher, Director of Continuous Learning at Harvard Business Publishing told HR Dive that there is a growing trend of companies providing on-demand training so that employees can learn soft skills at their own pace. Their product, Harvard ManageMentor is a learning resource for leadership and management skill development which bridges the gap between traditional mentoring and on-demand learning. Belcher advises that employers should be looking for ways to harness internal knowledge while giving employees access to continuously updated, curated learning content.
What are some of the top soft skills that employees are seeking?
It seems that not much has changed in terms of the types of soft skills that employees want to learn on-demand. Belcher shared that the top 5 most requested topics in their tool have been:
- Leading people
- Handling difficult interactions
- Change management
- Time Management
- Career Management
This can be attributed to an emerging group of millennials who are now entering executive level positions who want to do things better than previous generations. A shift towards better leadership and organizational change that humanizes workforces is the wave of the future.
Digital on-demand learning resources have been around for a few years, and many working adults have already taken advantage of this to advance in their careers. For example, Udemy, which launched in 2010, has become a platform for corporate trainers and individual instructors to reach more learners. Even LinkedIn has jumped on learning in the corporate world by acquiring Lynda.com, a highly successful and trusted source of on-demand video learning.
How can employers foster soft skills learning?
First of all, employers must understand that they are in a very unique position to empower their workforce through learning. So too, recruiters are placing emphasis on building teams with strong soft skills. Along with learning skills through peer-to-peer mentoring, management coaching, and other experiences; the convenience of on-demand soft skills learning is unparalleled. Today, employees only need to open up their mobile device and they can begin learning new work-related skills. Then they can pick up where they left off anytime. It doesn’t take away from other task-producing work. Instead, learning soft skills enhances employees’ ability to be more productive.
Employers that want to create learning environments only need to provide access to on-demand soft skills learning tools. The beauty of soft skills training is that the topics are easy to find and quickly apply to real work situations. Managers can learn to be better managers. Employees can learn to relate to one another better. Teams begin to thrive because they know how to bring out the best in each other. Change is embraced and communication is managed more effectively. All of this adds up to a much more pleasant and productive work environment.