What Is Soft Skills Training And Why Is It So Important?

Want to improve your employee’s soft skills? The most effective way to do so is through game-based training. Games provide a fun and safe environment to learn, practice, fail, and ultimately master critical skills. But not all games are created equal. This article outlines a variety of solutions.

Soft Skills Training: Everything You Need To Know About Training Employees

If I told you that 67% of HR professionals report withholding positions due to lack of soft skills you probably wouldn’t be surprised [1]. But despite this trend, most companies don’t invest in improving these skills after hiring candidates.

According to Indeed [2], the number one job site in the world, soft skills “include any skill that can be classified as a personality trait or habit. Interpersonal skills and communication skills are more specific categories of soft skills…they can also be: effective communication skills, teamwork, dependability, adaptability, conflict resolution, flexibility, leadership, problem-solving, creativity, work ethic, and integrity.”

Why Is This Important?

With the future of Artificial Intelligence and automation imminent as we prepare for Industry 4.0, there is an urgent need to focus on the soft skills that humans can offer and that technology can’t. Studies have shown that empathy and compassion are two soft skills that are absolutely necessary to give companies an edge in attracting and retaining top talent. Deloitte’s 2018 survey of 12,000 Millennials and Gen Zers globally showed that these generations have quite negative opinions about the future of business [3]. Fewer than half of the respondents believe businesses behave ethically. Loyalty levels have fallen significantly over the last 2 years; 43% of Millennials and 61% of Gen Zers admit that they plan to leave their current jobs in less than 2 years because of dissatisfaction with their company’s culture. They feel unprepared for Industry 4.0 and are desperate for more soft skills training such as creativity and interpersonal skills.

Schools have also started to adopt Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programs to help prepare their students for college and the workforce. Companies are starting to realize the importance of and focus on social skills training. The youngest generations in the workforce demand it. They want to be a part of something greater than themselves. They want to ensure that their company is actually making a difference in society. Starbucks shut down 8,000 stores in May of 2018 to train their employees on compassion after 6 weeks earlier, 2 black men were arrested in one of their stores for no reason. Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, in his commencement address to Wharton graduates in 2018 discussed the importance of compassion to build better companies. Gary Vaynerchuk, social-media celebrity and entrepreneur extraordinaire, known for his tough-talking diatribes about hard work and the “hustle” has recently added to his message the importance of empathy and kindness in building a business that can scale.

According to a study done by Business Solver, 93% of employees say that they are more likely to stay with an empathetic employer [4]. 72% of CEOs say the state of empathy needs to evolve and all agree that it is absolutely necessary to train employees on soft skills to give companies an edge to acquire top talent and retain employees.

How Do You Train Employees On Soft Skills?

If you want to improve your staff’s soft skills, the most effective way to do so is through game-based training. Games provide a fun and safe environment to learn, practice, fail, and ultimately master critical skills. But not all games are created equal. Simulation games are particularly useful for soft skill improvement. They immerse players in virtual scenarios, encourage them to make real-time decisions, and observe the results of each one. Some of the best-known brands have used simulation games.

Walmart recently created a retail training game called “Spark City” that simulates what it’s like to work in a Walmart store. Downloaded by over 60,000 people, this game puts players on a sales floor – restocking shelves, greeting customers, and handling typical situations including spills and shoplifting. Throughout the game, players receive points and feedback from their boss based on the decisions they make.

Pfizer and Drexel University worked together to create a Minecraft game to help young hemophiliacs and their caregivers. In Hemocraft players go on a quest with a virtual healthcare professional to help them understand how their treatment works and how to adhere to their care plan. Players are challenged to monitor factor levels and self-infuse to help control bleeding if needed.”

Farmers Insurance recently announced the development of a Virtual Reality (VR) training curriculum focused on simulating critical workplace conversations and helping employees practice key interpersonal skills. The first employee communication training game revolves around vendor collaboration and communication with customers. These training modules are intended to help improve the overall customer experience by focusing on the moments that may matter most.

Want A Game-Based Solution Without A Large Budget Or Timeline?

If you’re looking for a fast and affordable solution, there are a few waiting on the shelf for you:

  • The Training Arcade® is a suite of customizable training games including scenarios, a soft skill simulation creator that allows players to test cause and effect decision making across several conversation paths.
  • Rehearsal is a video-based practice platform that allows people to practice their selling and communication skills, receive coaching, collaboration, and recognition.
  • Mursion is a mixed-reality platform that simulates job interviews, selling techniques, and employee/manager meetings, through real-time interaction with digital avatars who are controlled by real people, ready to provide real-time feedback every step of the way.

While it’s helpful to have an experienced Instructional Designer to help you create a simulation game if you truly understand what outcomes you want and the skills you are teaching, it can also be accomplished with one of the turnkey solutions above. With branching path and simulation games, we are seeing changing perceptions in what makes training effective.

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