To build a successful sales campaign, the first step by any good salesperson is research.
To build a solid marketing strategy, the first step by any good marketer is research.
As an L&D manager, you know the foundations are the same. A strong learning and development plan needs to be based on research and measurement of the strengths and weaknesses of your employees' key skills. This is something we have all been doing for years with regard to the technical ability of our people. However, using a data-driven approach for the measurement and development of soft skills is something that the majority of businesses are yet to grasp.
The absence of a data-driven approach for soft skills development may explain why, shockingly, only 12% of employees applied new skills, learned from ‘training-days’, into practice. This is made all the more concerning by the fact that research has shown 90% of the workforce requires upskilling before 2030.
Within this article, we will take you through the top 5 reasons you need to audit your employees' soft skills; and the key benefits that you will unlock for your business by taking this approach...
What is a Soft Skills Audit?
A soft skills audit is a quick and effective way to get an overview of the soft skill gaps within your business. It is generally done through employee self-report, which is used to identify any soft skill gaps that need to be addressed to enable employees to be as effective as possible in helping your business achieve its long term growth plans.
5 Reasons to Audit Your Employees' Soft Skills?
1. Uncovering gaps within your teams - Working from home was a plunge all businesses, regardless of how prepared they were, had to take. The consensus was one of positivity, with 28% of workers saying their productivity had increased. However, with it has come a significant drop in employees' soft skills, with an example being the loss of constant interaction impacting on communication skills. Our research found that 63% of leaders agreed that working from home has created unnecessary friction between staff and teams.
Due to the nature of soft skills, the most effective way of eliminating these skills gaps is from a clear and effective audit. One clear benefit is being able to have a 360 view of employees skills. This allows you to be better equipped to create a holistic L&D strategy and ensure budgets are allocated correctly.
2. Targeted learning - L&D budgets are precious. However, it is difficult to target learning correctly when you don’t have the data, leading to wasted spending. A problem which is currently plaguing the L&D industry, just take a look at these statistics:
- A Mckinsey and company report found that 25% of employees felt training programmes had a tangible benefit on performance.
- Only 12% of employees applied new skills learned from traditional L&D training.
- 75% of managers are dissatisfied with their organisation’s learning and development function.
By auditing the soft skills of your employees you can clearly see the gaps that need to be filled. Providing a more effective way of spending that precious, precious budget and a way forward in developing the skills that truly matter.
3. Decreased churn - The top reasons for employees leaving companies are:
1. Manager behaviour
2. Lack of L&D opportunities
This is a problem - employees, who you spend money on hiring, training and paying are leaving due to preventable reasons such as lack of access to learning and development. In fact, in a recent Linkedin survey, it was revealed that 94 per cent of employees would stay with a company longer if there was a greater investment in the right learning. The current problem, however, is that employees feel L&D teams aren’t even helping them to understand soft skills, let alone giving them the right soft skills training. Our own research found that over 50% of employees have had no help from their L&D team to understand their soft skills. So, what’s the solution? You guessed it, auditing. Firstly, because helping employees to understand their soft skills proves that you’re investing in their L&D in the right way. And secondly, it helps them to understand why you're providing them with specific soft skills training, which in turn will lead to them being more engaged with the process. The result? Employees can see that you care about developing their skills, and are less likely to leave and will play a core role in helping your business deliver on its goals.
4. Build a culture of continuous improvement - Consistent soft skills auditing leads to an environment where employees are constantly striving towards improving themselves, and in turn, improving the business. Employees crave feedback. It allows them to understand their pitfalls but also makes them feel a valued member of the team. In Qualtrics’ State of Play 2018 report, over 50% of employees stated that they wanted to be assessed at least every 6 months. Auditing allows this to happen.
5. Return on Investment - Finally, the most important part for any L&D leader, learning RoI! As we all well know, you can invest thousands of pounds into new L&D programmes, but if they aren’t deployed in the right way, they won’t result in giving you a positive RoI... Yet again, this highlights just how important it is to start your soft skills training with a thorough skills audit. This is backed up by research from Michigan University, which found that correctly targeted soft skills training can deliver an RoI of 256% as a result of a 12% increase in team productivity and retention.
So, the benefits are clear. Gone are the days of untargeted blanket soft skills training, and in are the days of tailored development plans for your employees to develop the skills that matter. It all starts with a quick audit. With the impact being huge on both employees and businesses alike.
For a free, no strings attached, soft skills audit for your employees fill out this form, and our team will be in touch.