The global pandemic has changed the way Millennials and Gen Z view their communities, friends, and employers. In this recent Deloitte study, nearly three-fourths of Millennials say the “pandemic has made them more sympathetic toward others’ needs.” Interestingly, there has been a rise in job loyalty as businesses have made stronger attempts to address employee needs. Taken together, these points illustrate why soft skills training is so important for organizations.
Soft skills training is woefully under-represented in higher education, leaving Millennials and Gen Z under-prepared for the needs of their future employers. Skills such as empathy, communication, and collaboration can have a major impact on the success of a business. This LinkedIn article points out that the average cost of miscommunication is around US$420,000 per year.
So what can an organization do to find quality talent with these valuable skills? The answer is to nurture the talent themselves. While it may be easy to vet a job candidate for their experience and technical expertise, it may be impossible to understand the person behind the resume. This is why organizations need to support new and existing managers, executives, and team members in their personal and professional development by providing soft skills training.
These training programs can be instrumental in teaching:
- Assimilation into a new workplace.
- Collaboration with team members.
- How to be assertive but also polite.
- The value of feedback and constructive listening.
- Communication with supervisors (mentoring) or team members (knowledge transfer).
Millennials and Gen Z employees have the most to gain from soft skills training. Here’s why you should care about them:
Soft Skills Training is Transferable
Training in technical job tasks is only relevant to a particular role at that time. Should the job requirements change (for example, due to the automation of processes), then those skills are basically lost. On the other hand, soft skills training provides learners with critical thinking, empathy, communication, and collaboration skills that are invaluable no matter the job role. This means management training can begin as early as the onboarding process.
Evidence shows that new employees are more likely to see their career path evolve throughout their professional life. They are more likely to change jobs, companies, and even careers. With so much instability, they know the value of learning soft skills. For organizations looking to attract and retain employees, providing career-building soft skills training is one way to do it. New employees can see that you’re committed to their careers (their future at your company) and are more likely to remain at your organization.
Support for Virtual Teams
It’s hard to not see soft skills training as a priority during a time when more and more employees are working remotely. Whether due to health and safety protocols or simply the growing trend towards flexible work schedules, today’s employee needs to learn how to work successfully in a virtual environment. This means they need to understand how to present themselves, communicate, and interact with their teammates, regardless of being in-person or on a screen.
Due to long periods stuck at home, many employees face physical and psychological challenges in their day-to-day lives. They may have families that take their attention away from work activities. Team leaders, managers, and executives need to be aware of the emotional impact that working from home can have. They need to empathize with their team and develop creative solutions to keep their employees engaged with the organization. Soft skills training helps learners place themselves into the shoes of another and understand alternative perspectives, which is invaluable when dealing with employees under stress.
Millennials Want to Make an Impact
New employees entering the workforce are brimming with energy and creativity. Organizations can harness that creativity and integrate it into their existing teams and business strategy. But how can you ensure that voices will be heard and appreciated? When managers, executives, and employees, demonstrate their listening and communication abilities, new hires can feel confident that their ideas will be heard and they can make an impact in their new position. For Millennials, diversity and inclusion means working in a collaborative environment where all points of view are valued. At the same time, soft skills training allows organizations to reinforce their culture and business objectives so new employees feel connected to the organization’s success. This way, they’re more likely to want to speak up, suggest new ideas, and be a contributing member of the team.
Company Culture Matters
Today’s consumers and employees are deeply concerned about corporate social responsibility (e.g., sustainability and accountability) and care about issues surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion. In fact, 74% of millennials believe that a culture of inclusion is key to innovation at their organization and over 86% of job seekers see diversity as a driving factor on their decision to work at a company.
To foster this culture, organizations are focusing learning programs around D&I. Soft skills training is more than just compliance training. Diversity of language, culture, and gender are highly beneficial to an organization’s success, and new employees are likely to want transparency when it comes to programs that influence equity.
Preparing for the influx of new employees, organizations need to consider the benefits of bringing soft skills training into their L&D programs. As you can see, your future employees will demand it and will demonstrate greater loyalty to those organizations that offer professional and personal development. Learn more about the variety of soft skills training programs that are available, and let’s talk about what you’ll need to get started.