Empowering Learners to Practice Soft Skills in a Virtual Work Environment

Amit Gautam
Amit Gautam August 26, 2021
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As technologies such as automation, AI and Machine Learning have made great inroads in the corporate world, there’s a paradigm shift in the skills that employees need to stay relevant today. However, at the pace at which the demand for digital skills is growing, it is clear that businesses can only aspire to help their workforce stay at par with the requirement for modern technology solutions, but may find it tough to completely match.

This is why the focus has shifted to developing softer skills such as leadership, time management, communication, creativity, change management, emotional intelligence and so on that are less easily emulated by automation. As per the 2021 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report, L&D pros globally named many of these skills as the most important skills for 2021.

However, the issue is that while digital skills can betaught more easily, soft skills are tough to teach as they are less information based and more dependent on practice and understanding.

Need For Real-World Opportunities

Teaching soft skills to an entire workforce is challenging. Even though L&D professionals and employees understand the need for training to plug the soft skills gap, the problem is a lack of opportunities for real-world practice. This lacunae is more evident especially in this virtual world of work.

With remote working, employees are spending miniscule amount of time in offices and this is posing challenges for upskilling and reskilling opportunities, especially in terms of soft skills. As we have all discovered over the last several months, remote working is in no way similar to moving the regular office working pattern into the home. This means L&D teams need to tailor their training programs in such a way that they can not only reach all the remote employees, but also work around their individual and drastically different schedules and provide them with real-world opportunities to test the soft skills training.

Developing Soft Skills to Suit Remote Work World

As per a Gartner report, it is likely that by 2024 in-person meetings will make up for just 25% of enterprise meetings, a drop from 60% before the pandemic. If this really is the case with face-to-face meetings becoming rare and digital communication the norm, organizations will have to ensure that their staff is equipped with the right soft skills to manage themselves in this virtual setting.

The need is now to alter ongoing training and development programs to include more soft skills development opportunities.

Soft skills development opportunities that meet the following criteria are known to work well for the workforce:

  • Customized for Individual Employees

When it comes to training programs, employees look forward to a ‘what’s in it for me ’experience. If the training is too general or doesn’t actually help them, it’s likely that they will find it uninteresting. So, it’s important to tailor training based on exactly what type of skills individual employees need and tweak the content accordingly.

  • Focused on Knowledge Retention and Practical Application

Real-world opportunities are paramount when it comes to soft skills training. For instance, it’s one thing to be told how to think creatively. It’s another to be able to apply it in a real-life situation. Applying conceptual knowledge is vital to making meaningful progress in soft skill development. Plus, the real-world scenarios make it seem less like training and more like practical tips.

  • Offer Instant, Actionable Feedback

It’s not enough to simply tell employees whether they are right or wrong in the quizzes or tests offered to them. What they need is tips, insights and best practices that actually help them get better instead of just testing their knowledge retention abilities.

 

Today, there are a host of eLearning courses and material available online from leading learning content providers like Plethora, Coursera, Udemy etc to provide soft skills training to employees. While some are a perfect fit for individual learning, some providers like Plethora come as customized and curated solutions that take a consultative approach towards solving a business challenge through employee skilling.

Plethora houses a comprehensive catalog of soft skill courses, and with the help of seasoned eLearning content experts, is able to custom build individual learning plans for employees to achieve a specified business objective.

To learn more about Plethora courses and view our curated plans, please get in touch here.