Get expert advice on every topic you need as a small business owner, from the ideation stage to your eventual exit. Our articles, quick tips, infographics and how-to guides can offer entrepreneurs the most up-to-date information they need to flourish.

Subscribe to our blog

5 Easy Ways to Cultivate Your Employees’ Soft Skills

Posted by Devika Hastak

April 26, 2024

At a time when automation and AI are transforming the way we work, discover how you can help employees cultivate their soft skills.

There is a new technological development every day. It should be no surprise that automation and AI are transforming the workplace. As a result, there’s also been a shift in what companies and employees value.

Schedule a call today

More companies recognize the importance of taking a skills-based approach to talent acquisition and management, focusing on soft skills. According to a McKinsey survey conducted after the COVID-19 pandemic, more than half the respondents reported that their organizations emphasize developing skills such as leadership, critical thinking, project management, and decision-making, which all fall under the category of soft skills.

Let’s examine soft skills, why they matter, and how managers and human resource teams can help cultivate them.

What Are Soft Skills and Why Do They Matter?

Soft skills are also known as interpersonal or social and emotional skills. Think — the things that make you human. These skills help you build relationships, manage time, and communicate effectively. They differ from complex or technical skills because they are not quantifiable and don’t always require formal education or training. 

As automation and AI change our work, employers can take comfort in the fact that they will still value these ‘human’ skills that machines cannot replicate. Research shows that soft skills are among the three most in-demand skill categories, and this demand will only continue to grow. A McKinsey report about the future of learning includes soft skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, leadership, and adaptability in a list of 56 skills that will help citizens thrive in the workplace of the future.

Cultivating your employees’ soft skills, either with your in-house team or through HR outsourcing for SaaS companies, will not only help create a workforce that can quickly adapt to changing landscapes but also instill a sense of optimism about the future. This is especially relevant today when technological advancements are causing sudden and drastic shifts in how we do things.

5 Ways to Cultivate Your Employees’ Soft Skills

Effectively cultivating your employees’ soft skills is not a complex task. It’s about adopting a future-focused, skills-based approach to your work. Here are five practical ways in which your company’s leaders and human resource teams can help and encourage employees to develop their soft skills:

1. Foster a Culture of Skill Development

Your employees are more likely to cultivate soft skills if their environment encourages them. Create a company culture that champions and prioritizes learning and growth. Take a multi-faceted approach by incorporating soft skills into employee evaluations and professional development programs. Not sure how to do this? Specialists who offer HR services for SaaS companies can help you out.

Encourage managers and senior leaders to consistently express how much they value soft skills by exhibiting these skills themselves or recognizing those who do. They can also contribute to building a culture of skill development by celebrating employees who regularly participate in initiatives and programs to develop their skills.

2. Establish an Effective Training Program

Revamp your learning and development strategies with a more skills-based approach. With support from experts specializing in talent management for PE firms and technology companies, you can create a practical soft skills training program that offers something for everyone. Keep things exciting and engaging using different mediums such as interactive workshops, role-playing exercises, digital courses, or even VR simulations.

Talk to us about how Escalon’s essential business services can help your startup scale faster.

People learn differently, so make sure your employees have multiple training options. They can then choose options that resonate the most with them, ensuring they use their time well and absorb the information effectively. You could also benefit from more practical training modules in some industries, such as customer service. Hence, employees know how to transfer their knowledge to real-life scenarios.

Consider leveraging technology to make learning more flexible and scalable. With more companies adopting a hybrid or remote working model, physical training programs may be less effective. HR services for SaaS companies can help you develop virtual training programs to make soft skill development more accessible to your employees, whether in the office or at home.

3. Create a Mentorship Mindset

Establish a culture of mentoring across your organization. Encourage leaders and employees to share their knowledge, provide constructive feedback, and communicate clearly with each other. Work with experts in human resources for private equity firms to incorporate peer-to-peer and leadership evaluations into your annual appraisal cycle to reinforce the mentorship mindset.

Organizing peer learning initiatives is another practical way to reiterate your company’s learning and development culture. Invite employees to share tips on time management, effective communication, and conflict resolution with their peers. This will encourage leaders and employees alike to learn from each other and create a safe environment for people to practice and develop their soft skills.

4. Leverage Leadership Influence

Employees are more likely to believe in and emulate behaviors they see in their leaders. Through talent management for PE firms, train your managers and senior leaders to lead by example by demonstrating and developing their soft skills. Leaders can promote respect, active listening, empathy, and effective communication through their actions and by regularly recognizing them in their employees. 

Leaders play a pivotal role in creating an environment that champions and values soft skill development. By encouraging employees to participate in skill development programs, providing valuable resources, and prioritizing training opportunities, leaders can empower their teams to adapt and thrive in the changing workplace.

Establish leadership buy-in by involving them in the early implementation stages of your soft skills strategy. Ask leaders to reflect on which soft skills they value most and identify skill gaps within their teams. This exercise will inform your learning and development strategy and reiterate the importance of soft skill development.

5. Make Use of Rewards and Incentives

Everyone likes being rewarded and recognized for their efforts and contributions. Fostering a company culture where employees understand the importance of developing soft skills and actively participating in training programs takes time. Be bold in using rewards and incentives to help this process along. 

Reward employees for participating in soft skill training programs and workshops or employ HR outsourcing services to learn how best you can incentivize engagement. Providing participants with badges or certificates will serve as public recognition for their skill development efforts and encourage others to do the same.

The Final Word

By adopting a skills-based approach to talent management and human resources, you’re preparing your company for the future of work. More companies are realizing the pivotal role that soft skills play in building resilient, high-performing, engaged teams. Fostering a culture of learning and growth, establishing leadership buy-in early on, and providing your employees with effective and rewarding skill development opportunities will bring numerous benefits to your company now and in the future.

Schedule a call today

Want to know more about creating a future-proof, skills-based work culture? In addition to taxes, accounting, bookkeeping, and CFO services through its FinOps, Escalon’s Essential Business Services include PeopleOps (HR, benefits, recruiting, and payroll) and Risk (business insurance). Talk to an expert today.


Devika Hastak
Devika Hastak

Devika Hastak is a dynamic content writer who is passionate about using the power of the written word to promote knowledge sharing and drive business success. She is adept at crafting compelling content tailored to client objectives and successfully executing SEO strategies that significantly impact brand awareness and lead generation. When she’s not wielding her digital pen, you can find her conducting culinary experiments in the kitchen or enjoying a good laugh with her family and friends.

We provide you with essential business services so you can focus on growth.