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5 Soft Skills Training Topics for 2021
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5 Soft Skills Training Topics for 2021

Most businesses understand the importance of training… it’s pretty difficult for employees to get their work done when they don’t know how to use the tools at their disposal.

In fact, compliance training will make up more than half of any training programme, and many topics (including GDPR, DSE and money laundering) are required training subjects by law. But soft skills training is needed too — think “collaboration”, “customer service” and “leadership”. In fact, these soft skills might be even more important to business outcomes, especially for long-term success.

For example, Deloitte suggests that your employees’ soft skills could be worth tens of thousands of pounds per year to your business in total — resulting from improved productivity, time management, reduced customer complaints, etc. And research by Pearson and Porath shows that poor soft skills among leadership can literally bring your organisation’s productivity to a halt.

It’s hardly surprising, then, that employers have long prioritised these fundamentals, with 85% valuing interpersonal skills like oral communication and listening above all. However, even teams who had soft skills sorted pre-2020 are finding that investment is necessary once more. After all, 81% of teams have now changed to tech-based communication platforms like Zoom, while one-third of companies who were forced towards remote working predict they’ll never go back. These are changes that rely on employees relearning everything from communication to productivity and beyond.

Of course, training focuses will always vary but, as we’ve seen from the businesses we work with, certain soft skills most definitely shouldn’t be missed as we move into 2021. The question is, what are they, and how can they help you recover from this rocky business road?

Suggested reading: If you want more general advice on how to put your learning platform to better use in 2021, check out our ebook — So, You Need a More Effective Learning Platform?

1. Adaptability

Virtually every aspect of business has been affected this year, and many industries have experienced huge swings in expansion or contraction. For individuals, the way that life and work integrate looks drastically different now, and, that’s where adaptability comes into play.

Why this matters

Adaptability is an especially vital skill in a climate that’s seen us all adjusting to makeshift at-home offices and learning how to fend off children and pets while filing the latest sales reports. Ultimately, adaptability matters because it allows us to see the possibilities in unanticipated change, meaning that teams who enjoy a training focus here can experience:

  1. Leaders more effectively able to support their teams: Adaptable leaders are better equipped to lead their teams through periods of turmoil and upheaval.
  2. Employees who are better equipped to produce results through change: If your teams are quick to adapt to new ways of working, it decreases the amount of time required to produce the same outcomes in a different way (or different outcomes entirely).
  3. Changes everyone can embrace: Even booming companies are making business-wide changes right now. Employees who have learnt how to embrace that rather than resist are essential.

What good looks like

Good adaptability training should be fast and continuous. This is a skill that your employees need right now, but it’s no static thing. As such, implementation relies upon:

  • Speed
  • Relevance
  • Predictions
  • Engagement

Most notably, you need bite-sized information in a microlearning format or similar. Turning to solutions like video content is a fantastic way to create immediate engagement. Remember, learners are 75% more likely to watch a video than read print.

Transform-your-soft-skills-training

2. Resilience

Even the most together employees have gone from green to red this year, and who can blame them? Nobody could have prepared for this, and no employer could expect them to. However, neither employee wellbeing nor business as normal will be possible without finding ways to overcome these setbacks. Adaptability plays a part here, but even that won’t work without resilience.

Why this matters

If employees aren’t able to get back on the horse fast this year then companies don’t stand a chance, especially as they focus on doing more with less. Most notably, research shows that employee resilience can lead to:

  1. Less absenteeism: Resilient employees are less likely to record an absence than those with low resiliency.
  2. Lower turnovers: Less resilient employees are twice as likely to quit in the next 6 months as those with high resilience.
  3. Greater job satisfaction: Resilient workers are 4x more likely to be satisfied with their jobs compared to those who are not.

What good looks like

A good resilience program should provide a multifaceted focus that largely centres around wellbeing. It’s particularly important to take notice of high-stress levels and using that context to help them manage better outcomes. Overall, good resilience focuses should include fundamentals such as:

  1. Positivity
  2. Emotional insight
  3. Balance
  4. And more

Additional resources: Check out our compilation video about employee wellbeing training to get a taste of how we approach this subject.

3. Collaboration/Teamwork

The ability to collaborate has always mattered. Now, with companies working remotely and scrabbling to streamline despite a decrease in face-to-face time, traits like empathy, active listening, and emotional intelligence have never been more important. And, a focus on collaboration/teamwork at the training stage is necessary to make sure these skills are updated to match the current environment.

Why this matters

Business collaboration tools like Slack have proven a huge help in keeping teams together this year, but they will never replace the communication skills of the people who use them. After all, no one likes being told what to do, especially by machines — what do you think The Terminator franchise is actually about?

When it comes down to it, business collaboration software only helps your team collaborate if people actually talk to each other — and this goes a lot further than simply teaching them how the software works. It’s important to teach your teams how to work together productively when they’re no longer sitting next to each other, and may even be working from different territories.

What good looks like

Good teamwork and collaboration look very different today than even a year ago, but getting on top needn’t be complicated. Success here is largely about streamlining interactions to suit your team’s needs, just as you would have done in the days of face-to-face. Training here should include:

  • Limiting the number of tools you use, and training users to deploy those tools effectively.
  • Focusing on successful cross-cultural communications, as shown in this video compilation
  • Finding new ways to check in
  • Reassessing in light of changes as they happen, rather than waiting for communications to suffer

Additional resources: Check out our remoting working series for a teaser on how we approach the subject.

4. Persuasion

As with so many of the soft skills touched on, strong persuasion skills matter right now. After all, competition in every business sphere has ramped up a gear, and leaders are having to help teams adjust to landscapes that they didn’t sign up for. As such, a training focus on persuasion at all levels is pivotal to putting power behind your efforts in 2021.

Why this matters

Employees without persuasion are like chickens without eggs – useless. After all, on the sales floor, at least, poor persuasive skills mean floundering profits. But the importance of persuasion is far further reaching. Communication, collaboration, leadership, customer service all often come down to being persuasive.

For example, it’s well known that people leave poor managers not jobs. If your managers can’t persuade their staff, they are likely to rely on far less pleasant forms of leadership… which, quite literally, could cost you your team.

What good looks like

Persuasion comes in a variety of forms but, for the most part, good training here relies on interpersonal skills such as listening and communication. Effectively, your customers and team members need to feel included in rather than forced towards decisions. This ties in with teamwork and collaboration, but as is evidenced by our influencing essentials, persuasion needs to take those points further where negotiation is concerned, bringing benefits that include:

  • Overcoming buyer resistance
  • Improving team-management relations
  • Encouraging self-expression
  • Improving overall workplace behaviours
  • Ultimately encouraging the adaptability and resilience already discussed

Additional resources: Check out our leadership video series for more advice about how persuasion and leadership are intertwined.

👉 Looking for engaging soft skills training resources? Demo our latest collections today.

5. Creativity

Creativity has long been a business backbone driving products, advertising, and everything between. However, creativity is a lot more than just coming up with a new idea to drive growth right now. For many businesses, it means figuring out how to do more with less. If your employees are adept at finding new ways to achieve the same outcomes (or entirely new, lucrative outcomes), your business will be more likely to thrive no matter what the economy is doing.

Why this matters

The phrase innovate or die has long been floating around the business sphere, and it sums up just about every reason why this soft skill matters to your success right now. Companies have had to develop increasingly creative means to stay afloat this year, including click and collect, subscription boxes, and perhaps even entirely new fields such as PPE development. Even now, companies are having to get creative with new sales methods, and that doesn’t look set to change anytime soon. Ergo, creativity largely equals success in 2021.

What good looks like

Many managers assume creativity is inherent, not taught, but that isn’t altogether true. Decent training can certainly enhance inbuilt creative impulses. Most importantly, as you can see from again referring to our leadership series, an inspiring leader can get ideas firing using methods like :

  1. Inclusive team environments
  2. Office design
  3. Flexibility
  4. Self-reflection
  5. Support

Soft skills are the key to success

Deloitte’s research predicted that 2 out of 3 jobs will be soft skill intensive by 2030. And given the positive impact they’re proven to have, it’s more important than ever to develop a soft skills training programme.

An effective soft skills training programme, like any successful learning and development strategy, needs to rely on learner engagement. Building learner engagement requires a focus on your content, the delivery system, and creating a rewarding and supportive culture around learning.

At Video Arts, we take soft skills training really seriously (it’s the core of what we do). And if there is one thing that we understand, it’s how to make engaging content. Every skill above is covered in our extensive catalogue of training content. However, we can also create bespoke content that’s tailored directly for your business and employees. Get in touch to learn more!

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