By Corporate English Solutions

16 May 2023 - 08:30

Why your organisation needs to develop soft skills

Developing soft skills, such as communication, people and self-management skills, is becoming increasingly recognised as vital for success. Without soft skills learning, organisations risk decreased engagement, performance and productivity, losing their competitive edge. 

Discover the compelling business case for developing soft skills and convince business managers to prioritise their development.


Reading time: 5 minutes

Can it be hard to articulate why powering up soft skills in your organisation is crucial for current and future success?

There is growing evidence to show that soft skills, often called “people skills” or “human skills”, such as communication, interpersonal and self-management skills are becoming equally, if not more important than technical skills. 

As early as 2019, LinkedIn highlighted that 91% of talent professionals agreed that soft skills matter as much or more than hard skills, and 80% said that soft skills are increasingly important to company success. According Home Consumer Credit Finance’s Head of HR, “While hard skills get a candidate’s foot in the door, it’s ultimately soft skills that open it."  

With limited budgets and shrinking resources you need to make sure that investments are going to lead to immediate and long-term returns. Yet, it can be a challenge to convince business managers that soft skills training is as crucial as technical skills. 

Read on to discover 5 reasons to support the business case for developing soft skills now and drive your organisation’s success

#1 Developing soft skills prepares organisations for the future

We know from the last few years that the future is inherently uncertain. So, our organisations need to pivot, and pivot quickly, to remain viable. Soft skills training can help employees develop the skills they need to be flexible, learn new things quickly, and adapt to changing circumstances.

And what roles will our organisation need in five, ten, twenty years’ time? It’s predicted that 85% of jobs available in 2030 don’t exist yet. What’s more, automation continues to replace many work tasks, so employees need to be able to adapt, take on new roles and handle new problems that digital transformation will bring. 

What we do know is that soft skills are essential to all workplace roles. Skills like communication, EQ, problem-solving and conflict-handling are universal and transferable. They are critical for building strong relationships, collaborating effectively, leading teams and fostering a positive work culture. All crucial to innovation, organisational success and growth. 

And in a climate of skills shortages, recruitment and retention challenges, it’s important to re and upskill our teams now. By investing in people skills development, we demonstrate a commitment to professional development, show employees they are valued and provide pathways for career growth.

With soft skills development, you can create a more agile, innovative, and adaptable workforce that is better equipped to thrive both now and in future.

#2 Developing soft skills leads to more effective global workforces

Today’s marketplace is a global marketplace. And today’s workplace is increasingly diverse, with employees from a variety of cultural backgrounds, languages, work preferences and needs. These factors undoubtedly bring a richness to our organisations, but they can also bring confusion and conflict. 

Experience and expectations of power dynamics, the ways in which power is distributed, exercised, and perceived can vary greatly. Combined with lack of knowledge and visibility of variations, employees can get confused by the way people interact with each other, make decisions, distribute work and give feedback. The negative impact of this can be significant and wide-ranging: perceived unfairness, lack of trust or feeling undervalued can result in low morale, high turnover and even legal challenges. 

Differences, too, in communication style and conventions may prevent effective global working. Not knowing enough about the appropriateness of direct or indirect communication, or whether to focus messages on task or relationships can lead to misunderstanding, conflict, and poor collaboration among global teams. Communication breakdowns can lead to errors, delays, and reduced productivity, affecting quality of products and services and relationships with customers.

People skills, particularly intercultural, interpersonal and collaboration and teamwork are essential skills for effective global working, to ensure your organisation can remain competitive.

#3 Developing soft skills supports remote and hybrid employees

Post-pandemic, remote and hybrid working continue to be important, often impacting jobseekers’ choice of organisations. With remote working, building relationships and trust can be challenging and may lead to reduced collaboration.

Hybrid and remote employees may also experience challenges in communication. With the reliance on email or instant messaging instead of face-to-face interaction, the potential for misunderstanding or misinterpreting can be heightened. Where employees may be working across different time zones or in various locations, the potential for miscommunication can be even greater, as they may not have the opportunity for real-time clarification or follow-up. This can negatively impact teamwork, productivity, and overall organisational success.

Developing soft skills, especially interpersonal, communication and collaboration, can build relationships and trust, improve engagement and increase performance in hybrid and remote teams. 

Remote working can make it difficult for the employee to set boundaries: the pressure to work late or always be available builds, leading to burnout. Your employees need to enhance their power skills: time management, prioritisation and focusing, as well as self-care to spot early signs of burn out. 

Flexible working also means hybrid learning, which brings a distinct set of challenges. L&D managers need to adapt the way they implement global upskilling in hybrid and remote teams.

#4 Developing soft skills supports organisations through digital transformation

With ever increasing tech intensity in the workplace, employees need to be equipped to manage the inevitable disruption and change that digital transformation causes.  

Let’s be honest. Who hasn’t felt resistance to change? It’s not only employees but stakeholders and customers who may prefer the status quo too. Navigating their own responses to change as well as interacting with resistant internal and external stakeholders can be challenging for teams going through digital transformation. 

Enhancing your workforce’s power skills such as critical thinking is essential for enabling change. Training will help employees to question the legacy systems and processes to move forward. It also enables employees to weigh up the risks and benefits of innovative technologies, helping optimise business operations. 

As digital transformation is organisation-wide, it requires cross-functional, cross-departmental collaboration, along with strong leadership to succeed. Without these, digital transformation efforts may not be completed or may be delayed, leading to lost opportunities, wasted effort and decreased competitive advantage. 

Essential skills such as strategic thinking, communication, leadership and EQ can enhance digital transformation initiatives by bringing a human-centric approach to the process. By prioritising these soft skills, digital transformation initiatives can be executed in a more efficient, collaborative and empathetic manner, ultimately leading to greater success and positive impact.

#5 Developing soft skills leads to improved customer experience

What is it you expect from the organisations you do business with? 

Like many customers with ever increasing choices, we tend to want more personalised, empathic and responsive experiences. Any organisation that falls short of those expectations risks losing customers to competitors who provide a better customer experience. 

A positive customer experience leads to positive customer reviews. And positive customer reviews lead to more customers. In a social media dominated world, reviews are the lifeblood of organisations, making or breaking brands. That’s why spending time and resources on improving customer experiences through people skills development brings a return on investment.

When your organisation provides a positive customer experience – effective communication, proactive handling of issues – you build loyalty, bringing repeat business and cementing long-term relationships with your customers. When you do customer experience badly, complaints multiply, impacting customer relations and employee retention. Implement soft skills training and courses in your workforce to deliver positive customer service and drive revenue by increasing sales and reducing customer churn.

Final thoughts

In today’s global economy, competent people skills give your organisation the cutting edge. It’s the soft skillset that will drive your organisation to future success.

Use these 5 reasons to convince business managers of the urgency of soft skills development and make them a key part of your learning and development and talent strategies.

Our 80 years’ experience in English and soft skills training and consultancy across 6 continents means we understand your context and organisational development needs. Partner with us to upskill your workforce in the crucial skills for success in 2023 and beyond.