Measuring the ROI of Soft Skills

Learning & Development | August 28, 2018

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Developing employees’ soft skills is an important part of any corporate learning program. Learn how you can measure the return on investment of providing soft skills training.

Soft skills are a popular topic in corporate learning, and for good reason. These skills are critical to professional success. According to an article on The Balance Careers, soft skills “are the personal attributes that you need to succeed in the workplace.” Popular soft skills include teamwork, innovation, communication, time management, coaching and more.

There is no doubt that employees’ soft skills are imperative to the success of an organization. In fact, according to a study completed by CareerBuilder, 77% of employers now believe that soft skills are equally as important as “hard” or “technical” skills in the work environment. However, unlike hard skills, which include job-specific training and knowledge, soft skills can be difficult to identify and measure.

If you need data to back up your investment in employees’ soft skills, there are ways that you can show the impact of this training. The first step is to align your training initiatives with the needs of your organization. Ensure that you look at any problems at your company and try to find the underlying reason for them. For example, many problems can be traced to issues with communication or leadership. When you work on developing these soft skills, you can test to see how the company has been impacted.

77% of employers now believe that soft skills are equally as important as “hard” or “technical” skills in the work environment.

The next step is to remember that you must measure the consequences of the program that you have completed. If you are running a leadership development program, you would be best served to look at how this training impacted other areas of the business such as output, customer satisfaction, job satisfaction, work habits and innovation. To measure your program’s results, use tools that are specific to your goals, such as customer or employee surveys. 

These numbers may show the impact of soft skills training to be higher than you think. Recently, Harvard University, Boston University and University of Michigan's Ross School of Business worked together to assess the success of soft skills training. They randomly selected a group of workers and trained them on skills such as problem-solving and self-awareness. After the completion of this training, they measured to see if it produced real results on metrics such as productivity and retention. The results showed an amazing 256 percent return on investment for soft skills training.

When you chose the correct soft skills to develop and can trace those skills to key results — such as customer satisfaction, output, quality and employee satisfaction, then you will be able to prove that your investment was valuable.

If you are looking to develop soft skills at a low cost to your organization, invest in a cost-effective tool such as EBSCO’s Accel5. This corporate learning resource features videos, book summaries and articles that help employees develop soft skills such as communication, teamwork, leadership, innovation, and more. Content can be consumed in minutes — ideal for busy professionals from millennials to seasoned executives.

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