Young professionals today enter the workforce with a diverse offering, such as innovative ideas, technologically advanced skills and new perspectives. With the amount of information being consumed, there is no shortage of knowledge in today’s workplace; however, many individuals reliant on technology have let other skills fall short.
Today, necessary soft skills are being underdeveloped and under-utilised in every industry.
The decrease of soft skills
In the past decade, research has found empathy levels drop by 40%, while bullying incidents have steadily risen. This study has shown a direct correlation between screen time and lack of empathy, a key soft skill. The rise of technology has shifted an entire generation in skills relating to empathy as well as the following:
- Technology has created a convenient and oversaturated world of information, which has led to a dramatic decrease in attention spans and resilience
- An overload of options, in content, music, items to purchase, etc. has created a culture in which individuals constantly switch between the options presented them, unable to stay with one for a long period of time
- Individuals have lost patience and personal discipline. As soon as we have a thought or desire, we can use technology to retrieve that information or that item
- Research has shown that adolescents in the modern world are away from technology for an average of one hour a day. This constant stimulation creates a constant feeling of reward, which has proven to decrease internal motivation
- Virtual connection has been shown to decrease the need to travel and meet up with individuals. Research found that 40% of individuals substitute virtual communication with meeting their friends out. This has led to a decrease in emotional intelligence and communication abilities
These consequences of technology are only beginning to be realised and it is important to create an environment where individuals are able to develop these necessary soft skills for a successful workplace.
Bridging the gap
Organisations willing to develop a systematic program that improves soft skills will have a competitive advantage for obtaining new employees. Similar to any other skill or knowledge, soft skills can be trained through LMS programs, courses and interactive assessments. Employees that improve soft skills also improve innovation, problem-solving and the beneficial use of technology.
To create a workplace that encourages the development of soft skills, managers should refer to the following steps:
Evaluate the current state
There will never be a one-size-fits-all solution to professional learning. Organisations must firstly look at and evaluate employees’ current capabilities as well as areas for improvement. One organisation may need to improve communication more while another may have issues with internal motivation; training must be tailored to each workplace.
Evaluation of employee skills can be accomplished through internal surveys, interviews and assessments, both in-person and online. PowerHouse LMS offers many functionalities to easily collect survey data from employees.
Once the organisation has evaluated the current status of employee skills, key members should organise and plan an effective solution. Utilising LMS programs as well as in-person activities, groups members should prioritise different soft skills, such as communication, collaboration, creativity and emotional intelligence.
Managers should select which soft skills are the most critical at the time and then set up a system to improve those skills and actively measure learning effectiveness. Improving team work, for example, can be established by utilising the PowerHouse LMS collaboration tools and assigning group projects. Individuals will work together with technology and also in-person to improve collaboration techniques and learn the importance of developing such a skill.
Training in the workplace is a great start for soft skill development; however, training must be able to continue after hours. Managers should gather resources that individuals may utilise for their own benefit. The documents tool in the PowerHouse LMS is a easy to use location for extra guides, readings and external links for any professional hoping to continue training.
Add time for reflection
Any training requires an opportunity for reflection and adjustment. After training modules, surveys and interviews should be conducted to gauge learning and progress.
After data on progress is gathered, managers are able to meet and adjust or continue training accordingly.
Similar to any advancement, technology has come with its fair share of benefits and consequences. Consequences, however, have gone unnoticed for almost a decade with organisations beginning to realise the impact technology has had on soft skills in the newer generations.
Education programs as well as professional organisations must work together to develop new systematic approaches. Soft skills are no longer easily inherited in adolescence and will continue to become a major problem for future generations. Organisations can implement learning programs similar to how we learn hard skills, which will offset the effect technology has had on this new generation of professionals.
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- Chambers, P. (2016). 3 Reasons You Need to Improve Soft Skills. Peakon. Retrieved from https://peakon.com/blog/management-hr/3-reasons-you-need-to-improve-your-employees-soft-skills/
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- White, D. (2014). 6 Steps to Improving Your Current Employees' Soft Skills. Fast Company. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3036793/6-steps-to-improving-your-current-employeess-soft-skills