Developing soft skills in the workplace: The whys and the hows
Instructional Design

Developing soft skills in the workplace: The whys and the hows

, Content Writer

Our world is not the same place anymore. Not all people work next to each other, and businesses respond by developing soft skills in the workplace that will keep them relevant.

The best part is, it’s working! It’s been commonly accepted that employees with high emotional intelligence, for example, are better performers and that organizations that foster soft skills like collaboration are outperforming those that don’t.

So, you’ll just make sure that all new hires are already soft skill superheroes, right? Maybe not.

In fact, hiring managers struggle to find candidates with soft skills. The good news is that developing soft skills in the workplace is possible.

Soft skills are crucial for the modern workplace

Soft skills complement technical expertise and contribute to a positive work environment. In fact, soft skills training for all employees (30%) is one of the top contributors to a healthier culture, according to employees in the software industry. As 8 in 10 employees find it important to get soft skills training from their company, and 53% of remote employees want to receive soft skills training, it’s crucial to explore which are the soft skills that matter in the modern workplace.

Communication skills

Effective communication is fundamental in the modern workplace, especially in remote/hybrid settings. Clear and concise communication helps avoid misunderstandings and facilitates collaboration. Strong communicators can articulate ideas, actively listen to others, and adapt their communication style to different audiences. By developing communication skills employees are able to minimize conflicts and enhance productivity.

Collaboration and teamwork

Teamwork is a cornerstone of many workplaces. The ability to collaborate with colleagues, share ideas, and work towards common goals is crucial. Strong team players contribute to a positive work culture, as they bring diverse perspectives and skills to the table. They understand the value of cooperation and are adept at resolving conflicts, which promotes a harmonious and productive work environment.

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Adaptability and flexibility

Modern workplaces are dynamic. Technology, processes, and organizational structures constantly change. Adaptable and flexible employees can navigate these changes with ease. These skills involve a willingness to learn and quickly adjust to evolving circumstances. Adaptability and flexibility are vital for staying relevant and thriving in the ever-changing professional landscape.


It’s necessary for individuals to address challenges that arise at work. So, those who can analyze situations, identify solutions, and implement effective strategies are highly valuable. Strong problem solvers exhibit critical thinking, creativity, and a proactive approach to overcoming obstacles.

Emotional intelligence

Employees with high emotional intelligence can understand and manage their emotions, plus relate effectively to the emotions of others. To achieve that they should be skilled in empathy, self-awareness, and handling interpersonal relationships. EQ skills boost communication, build strong connections with employees, and contribute to a positive and inclusive work environment.

Time management

In the modern workplace, multitasking is often required. So, employees with strong time management skills can prioritize tasks, set realistic goals, and efficiently allocate their time to maintain productivity and meet deadlines. Plus, time management skills help prevent burnout and ensure a healthy work-life balance.


Leadership is one of the most crucial soft skills employees are lacking, according to 54% of employers. So they shouldn’t be overlooked in the modern workplace. These skills shouldn’t be limited to those in formal leadership positions. They are valuable at all levels of an organization. Effective leaders inspire and motivate their teams, provide guidance, and lead by example. Plus, leadership involves decision-making, delegation, and the ability to navigate challenges while fostering a positive and innovative work culture.

Developing soft skills in the workplace: The whys and the hows

How to develop soft skills in the workplace

Organizations can use a variety of methods and strategies to help employees improve their soft skills in the workplace. The better the method, the more organizations will benefit from these skills.

Here is how to develop soft skills at work in 7 simple steps:

1. Develop a learning mindset
2. Hire people who are willing to learn
3. Conduct a skills assessment after hiring
4. Encourage self-reflection
5. Use the right training tools
6. Provide opportunities for practice
7. Offer (and ask for) feedback, often

1. Develop a learning mindset

Encouraging a mindset of continuous learning isn’t as daunting as it might seem. In traditional workplace settings, employees should actively participate in various in-person learning opportunities. For example, workshops, training sessions, and collaborative projects. Plus, offer your employees the chance to seek out knowledge from peers and engage in cross-functional initiatives.

In remote settings, offer virtual training programs, online training courses, and digital resources to boost the soft skills development. Also, allow employees to participate in virtual communities and discussion boards to share their thoughts, pains, and opinions on industry trends and experiences.

2. Hire people who are willing to learn

Rusty Rueff supports on “Navigating non-linear career paths,” from TalentLMS’ podcast series Keep It Simple, that employers should value skills and job needs over just degrees, as higher education doesn’t always mean harder work. He also claims “But for so many of our jobs, using a college education as the go-no-go decision validator is just lazy.”

When hiring new people, prioritize those who show eagerness to learn. Look beyond formal qualifications or limited work experience. Instead, evaluate soft skills and personality.

Individuals who are open to change, have diverse viewpoints, and are receptive to fresh ideas are more inclined to learning. For instance, 48% of Millennials and Gen Z believe soft skills training opportunities greatly matter in the workplace.

3. Conduct a skills assessment after hiring

A thorough training needs analysis will help managers identify any gaps in employees’ skillsets. To achieve this, ask questions related to soft skills. For example, ask employees whether they’ll be able to work with a team or customers. Then, focus on the skills they’d like to develop within the company.

Make sure to stress to employees that it’s normal to have skills that need to be improved or developed to ease anxiety. Let them know that regular feedback sessions will be scheduled to build trust and discuss performance gaps that will help tailor training to their needs.

4. Encourage self-reflection

You won’t know how to develop or improve soft skills in the workplace until you know which soft skills need improvement. And self-reflection is a key aspect of personal and professional growth.

Employees should set aside time for regular self-assessment by keeping journals to track achievements and areas for improvement. Actively seeking feedback from peers and supervisors during performance reviews should also be encouraged.

To facilitate remote employees, use digital tools to track progress and accomplishments, as well as virtual discussions with mentors and peers who will provide feedback.

5. Use the right training tools

Using LMS for soft skills development is crucial to ensure that all employees have access to training.

An LMS supports soft skills development by offering a central hub for organizing, delivering, and tracking training. It provides diverse resources like interactive modules and videos for improving collaboration and communication. With integrated remote facilitation, employees can engage through webinars and discussion boards. Also, it enables personalized learning paths, fostering self-directed development in areas like emotional intelligence and leadership. Robust analytics help monitor progress and identify strengths and areas for improvement. These contribute to a more proficient workforce with refined soft skills.

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6. Provide opportunities for practice

Practice! This is how to improve soft skills in employees. After all, it would be pointless to develop employees’ collaboration skills and then isolate their work responsibilities.
Instead, give them the opportunity to take their newly acquired soft skills for a test drive.

Help your employees practice soft skills with interactive elements such as role-playing and simulations during training. Integrate hands-on activities into workshops or in real workplace scenarios. To facilitate remote employees in developing soft skills, invest in virtual simulations and role playing activities on a training platform. Plus, encourage the application of learned skills using collaborative tools for group projects.

7. Offer (and ask for) feedback, often

Once your employees are on track towards developing their soft skills in the workplace, the best way for you to help them as a leader or manager is by offering feedback.

Integrate regular performance reviews and constructive feedback sessions in your soft skills development plan. Also, explore training reports to understand pain points and reinforce training wherever needed.

At the same time, it’s essential to ask for training feedback. Collect post-training feedback, or use surveys and 1:1 meetings to gather insights from employees regarding their learning experience. According to the findings, make sure to improve and tweak soft skills training to accommodate learning needs.

Mastering soft skills: The cornerstone of success

Developing soft skills in the workplace is necessary.

A workforce rich in soft skills is like a brand-new car engine working at maximum efficiency. And remember, like any car engine, soft skills can gradually diminish over time if left unattended. With ongoing corporate training, you can leverage soft skills for workplace success.

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Elena Koumparaki - Content Writer

Elena blends, real-world data and storytelling for impactful L&D and HR content. Always on trend, her engaging work addresses today's needs. More by Elena!

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