Has your business been struggling to find and hire candidates with the appropriate soft skills? If so, it is not alone. A recent study found that 44 percent of employers believe that today's job candidates are lacking the necessary soft skills to be successful on the job.1

The term "soft skills" was first used in an Army training manual in the 1970s. While the term has been tossed around for decades, it has become an increasingly widespread term as the soft skills gap has grown. In fact, CareerBuilder has reported that 77 percent of employers now believe that soft skills are equally important to hard skills in the workplace.2 Unfortunately, employers are finding that although new hires have the technical skills needed to enter the workforce, many lack the soft skills needed to succeed.

In an effort to remediate the lack of skills such as communication, professionalism, and customer service, employers turn to soft skills training solutions to help bring these valuable skills back into the workplace. While many companies have begun realizing the need, few understand the true worth of soft skills training to their company's bottom line. However, it may be more than you think.

High ROI of Soft Skills Training

Harvard University, Boston University and University of Michigan's Ross School of Business recently teamed up to evaluate the effectiveness of soft skills training. After training a randomly selected group of women laborers on a variety of soft skills, such as problem-solving and self-awareness tools, they measured to see if this training produced real results on metrics such as productivity and retention. The results showed an amazing 256 percent ROI for soft skills training.3

Benefits of Soft Skills in the Workplace

It is easy to understand how important technical skills are in the workplace. After all, if the employee does not know how to perform required tasks, it would be nearly impossible to get the job done right. While it may be more challenging to track the impact of soft skills such as time management, communication, decision-making and teamwork, they are nonetheless equally important. In addition to improved productivity and retention rates, soft skills training offers an array of other benefits, such as improved teamwork, enhanced customer service, lower absenteeism, better workplace communication and a higher level of employee engagement " all of which positively impact your bottom line.

Principal Analyst at Lighthouse Research & Advisory, Kyle Lagunas notes that, "Most colleges aren't building out the skills students need to become value-added employees."4 Because of the gap between the skills taught by schools and the demands of the workplace, many employers are taking the proactive step to make budget for soft skills training and work it into their onboarding process or regular re-training programs.

All Industries Need Soft Skills

The soft skills gap is not a challenge exclusive to certain industries, but crosses all manner of occupations. For example, a nurse who lacks the necessary communication skills will have a difficult time helping patients feel at ease. A restaurant server who lacks attention to detail may make frequent mistakes, which can be very costly for the business and push customers away.

Similarly, a manufacturing workforce that lacks team-building skills can decrease production, increase workplace accidents and ultimately slow down completion time. Soft skills are needed for any job position, in any industry. And employers who enable employees to develop these skills over time are more likely to see their current entry-level workers develop into their company's leaders in the future.

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(1) Adecco USA (2) CareerBuilder (3) HR Dive (4) SHRM