Improve Employee Engagement with Online Soft Skills Training

As we usher in a new decade with 2020, new trends are hitting the workplace. We are facing greater technological advances, automation and computer learning and the way employees engage with their employers is changing. Employers must invest in their employees to maintain a competitive edge and retain talent. Here’s how to engage with that process according to the most recent trends.

Diverse group of colleagues discussing work on a laptop in a bright office.

How the Workplace is Changing in 2020

There’s no doubt that overall employee engagement has accelerated in recent years. According to Gallup research, changes in employee training and development can be best attributed to the processes in which organizations engage their employees.

  • Organizations with high employee engagement are CEO- and executive-initiated – The organization’s purpose is well understood, and top executives lead by example. Leaders in this type of organization are focused on improvement by highlighting what has already gone well and where the company is headed in the future
  • Leaders are educated on the most highly productive management techniques – Gone are the days of top-down management styles. Instead, managers lead by example by living company values, delegating and providing mentorship
  • Companywide communication is key – There is a workplace culture of communication that encourages employees to ask questions and get answers. In this way, the company’s values and best practices are communicated clearly across the board
  • Managers are accountable – Employees are as successful as their managers, so tolerance for mediocrity in leadership is dwindling. In top organizations, there are ongoing conversations about mission and purpose as well as accountability with managers

Top Employee Skills

Having a growth mindset is consistently ranked as the most important soft skill for employee success. Overall, the individuals who maintain a growth mindset and learn new skills that cannot be replicated by technology and AI are more likely to succeed. This means that human skills like critical thinking, emotional intelligence and complex problem-solving are starting to be valued more highly by hiring managers.

Knowing that industries are prone to rapid changes and developments in this upcoming decade, here are the most highly valued soft skills for employees:

1. Sensemaking – The ability to understand the deeper meaning or significance of an idea

2. Social intelligence – The ability to genuinely connect with and understand others

3. Adaptive thinking – Coming up with solutions and ideas that are not rule-based

4. Cross-cultural competency – The ability to perform well in different cultural settings

5. Computational thinking – Translating complex data into abstract data and understanding data-based reasoning

6. New media literacy – The ability to interpret information in various media formats, including newly developed media

7. Transdisciplinary literacy – Understanding concepts across disciplines

8. Design mindset – Developing work tasks and processes suited for a specific desired outcome

9. Cognitive load management – The ability to condense and filter information according to importance and understanding how to maximize cognitive functions

10. Virtual collaboration – The ability to work productively as a member of a virtual team

11. Cognitive flexibility – Creativity, logical reasoning and problem sensitivity

12. Negotiation skills – Communicating what is desired in a way that drives results

13. Service orientation – Actively seeking ways to help others judgment and decision-making – Synthesizing complex data with input from other employees to make appropriate judgments and decisions

14. Emotional intelligence – Being aware of how others are feeling and being aware of one’s own impact on others

15. People management – being able to motivate other people

How to Use Soft Skills in Employee Training

In 2016, the World Economic Forum predicted that the current trends of 2015 would lead to an employment impact of 7.1 million lost jobs due to disruptive labor market changes. With this revelation, employers and employees alike have scrambled to find ways in which humans can keep their jobs in the face of advance automation. Now, what started as a movement to develop soft skills for managers has spread across the entire workforce.

Leaders must enhance employee learning and engagement so that their organizations stay competitive. To start, it’s important to thoughtfully develop an employee engagement program using soft skills. Begin by analyzing your needs—what does your organization need? What does your team of employees need? How can you blend these needs to create purpose-driven results? Furthermore, are there any skill gaps in your employee base? If so, you may need to develop employee training programs to close these gaps. From here, you will need to prioritize initiatives according to your resources. Finally, you will be ready to plan and deliver employee training.

Here are some ways in which employee training tends to be more successful:

  • Microlearning – Bring learning and enrichment activities to your employees in small, but powerful bursts rather than overloading them on a days-long marathon. E-learning is a great solution to this
  • Hands-on learning opportunities – Allow employees to shadow someone who has already mastered the skill(s) they are studying
  • One-on-one meetings – Structured, regular meetings between employees and supervisors will help keep track of what employees are working on. In these meetings, managers can assess which skills still need work and how overall work outcomes have changed since the employee last received feedback/training
  • Small group meetings – Regular “lunch and learn” style meetings are a good way to get ideas flowing and have employees network with one another. Encourage employees to give small presentations and exchange ideas in settings like this

Using training initiatives such as the above helps to enhance employees’ cultural, emotional and social intelligence. They also encourage new media competency, negotiation skills, cognitive flexibility, etc. Incorporating training programs that utilize key soft skills will naturally encourage employees to use these skills in their own day-to-day work. According to IBM, skilled humans fuel the global economy and organizations can help close the skills gap created by automation by paying attention to skills development tactics that produce innovative results.

Next Steps 

As workplace demands change, be sure to analyze the ways in which your organization is falling behind. Are there areas in which you can enhance employee training and development? The most likely answer to that question is “yes” because, at this pivotal time of technological advancements, every organization should be working hard to keep employee training programs current and relevant. KnowledgeCity has several interactive online training videos that can help you do this. With topics such as design thinking, active listening, critical thinking, leadership and influence and so much more, there is simply no shortage of materials that will help keep you and your employees updated on the most relevant and timely soft skills. Remember, enhancing your own soft skills along with your employees’ will give you a competitive edge in an increasingly automated and technology-fueled market.

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