Have you ever considered the ROI of soft skills training? If so, read on!

As a provider of soft skills training, we hear people question the ROI of non-technical skills all the time. Now, this is absolutely an important aspect of business that has to be considered but our goal goes beyond just looking at ROI. Organizations need to understand the fact that helping people acquire the tools necessary to communicate more effectively with their coworkers and consumers equals less conflict and more productivity. We find the issue of ROI confusing because 92% of employers say soft skills are essential and that a large proportion of the workforce lacks them, especially entry level employees. And yet only 31% of companies are providing soft skills development to remedy this situation. Could it be that the term ‘soft skills’ is the problem? We think that it’s definitely part of it.

Originally coined in the 1970s by the U.S. Army, soft skills differentiated interpersonal skills from those needed to operate weapons or machinery. To separate the two types of skills was an understandable desire. However, just as a silkworm isn’t actually a worm and your funny bone isn’t actually a bone (or funny…), a soft skill isn’t actually soft. After all, most people equate ‘soft’ things with those that are delicate, squishy, velvety, etc. And sadly, many people equate the idea of ‘soft’ as demanding little work or effort as in the opposite of ‘hard.’ 

Now I don’t know about you, but at Brilliant People™ we think using interpersonal skills at work to develop better relationships with coworkers and customers can be A LOT of hard work! Consider the art of giving critical feedback to a colleague or direct report, or de-escalating an irate customer situation, or the fact that 69% of managers feel uncomfortable communicating with their own employees! So calling these skills ‘soft’ can seem like it devalues their worth. In fact, many have advocated for calling soft skills something that sounds stronger like ‘power skills’ and we aren’t opposed to this, but the fact of the matter is that ‘soft’ also refers to bringing ease or quiet, not being glaring, being smooth, not being violent, or marked by kindness. And our personal favorite definition: based on negotiation, conciliation, or flexibility rather than on force, threats, or intransigence. The point being, let’s not get hung up on what we call these skills, let’s just focus on acquiring them. And there should never be a question of whether to train for hard or soft skills. It should always be both. 

So, which soft skills are important to develop? When it comes to creating positive workplace culture there are several from this years top 10 list of the most in-demand soft skills:

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Interpersonal skills

And all of them are teachable if an employee is willing to learn. It just takes a little time and practice. 

One of our favorite tools is Catalyst by Everything DiSC. This is an online platform that houses the information from up to three DiSC assessments: Workplace, Agile EQ, and Management. The information contained in each allows the user to dig deep into their own personality type and its affect on their emotional intelligence and management style. It also provides tons of information on how better to communicate with differing personality types. Individuals can even do a comparison report between themselves and a colleague to prepare for a one-on-one meeting or just to understand how to get along better with them. And it’s available 24/7. It’s truly been a game changer for the managers and teams we’ve worked with.

For example, we recently worked with the leadership team of instructional technologists for a large school district. Each school in this district is assigned an IT person or two to ensure that the campus technology runs smoothly for both the students and the teachers. It’s a crucial position of the school staff and it requires not only mastery of the technology but also the ability to effectively navigate all the different personalities with which they work. It’s like having a team of 50-120 individuals depending on the size of the school. But this school year will be different. 

Now this team has the ability to use Catalyst™ to understand their own personality type and why they show up at work the way the do. They can also dig into why their teammates and coworkers show up the way they do. In addition, they can read up on the examples of strategies within Catalyst for working more constructively with each coworker. And because this team also took the Agile EQ assessment, they can begin to improve their own emotional intelligence through Cataylst’s suggested strategies as well as learn how to meet the EQ needs of their coworkers. Did I mention what a game changer this is?!


To sum up, the term soft skills might seem like a misnomer to many, but it’s probably here to stay. Because there is so much of the definition in the word ‘soft’ that does apply, let’s not spend time quibbling over semantics. Instead, let’s focus on helping people master these skills. After all, 85% of career success comes from having well-developed soft skills.  As an extra bonus Ai doesn’t have the ability to develop interpersonal skills, teamwork and leadership. Only humans can do that. Plus, according to joint research by Microsoft and Mckinsey, soft skill-intensive occupations will grow at 2.5 times the jobs in other fields (30-40% of future jobs will depend on social-emotional skills)! And because we humans should all be working toward some semblance of work-life balance, it’s important to realize that utilizing soft skills appropriately isn’t only beneficial at work. It’s crucial in every single setting in which two humans interact. Is anyone still questioning the ROI of soft skills? 

If you want to improve your team’s ability to communicate more effectively, what are you waiting for? Call us today! We provide training and access to the Everything DiSC Catalyst™ platform.

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