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3 Soft Skills to Consider for Improved Employee Return on Investment

Julie Thompson
Julie Thompson
business.com Contributing Writer
Updated Jan 23, 2023

See how these behaviors boost productivity and profits.

While technical or academic skills can become outdated, so-called soft skills – such as creativity, collaboration and adaptability – are always in high demand. Even better, when you reinforce and monitor soft skills within the workplace, the resulting robust and cohesive environment increases productivity, ultimately boosting profits.

If your employees have certain soft skills that your company can optimize, you’ll get a greater return on investment (ROI). After all, employee wages make up a good portion of your business’s expenses.

Soft skills that are important for employee ROI

Fractures created by employees who struggle with soft skills are disruptive and distract your team from your company’s mission and goals. In fact, when you don’t consider soft skills as part of your return on investment, you may be missing a critical element in the success of your organization.

If you want to improve employee ROI, ensure your company and team members embrace these soft skills:

Support for the company culture

Employees who support the company culture see your business as more than the means to a paycheck. Rather, they believe in your organization’s mission and values, and they make efforts to contribute positively to the workplace environment. As a business owner, it’s essential for you to create a company culture that keeps employees motivated and engaged.

High employee engagement directly correlates with high productivity, which, in turn, can boost profits. Similarly, team members who are invested in the company’s mission will spend less time on tasks that distract from the underlying framework and purpose of the organization. If a worker fulfills their responsibilities, that’s great. But one who also takes an active role in supporting your culture will give your business an even bigger return on investment. 

Fulfilled promises

The No. 1 way to build trust in a company is to ensure that words and actions match. When promises are made and not fulfilled, fractures occur and trust is broken. For example, when employees say they are part of the team but their behavior doesn’t demonstrate that principle, there’s a disconnect. The same goes for employees who promise to get their work done Monday but don’t turn it in until Tuesday. These unfulfilled promises create cracks within teams that ultimately weaken the company and have potentially devastating consequences. [Find out the cost of a bad hire.]

In contrast, when employees’ words match their actions, they demonstrate that they’re accountable for their commitments to your business and the company culture, which, in turn, promotes cohesion and trust. The result is a more resilient workplace that can withstand conflicts and, ultimately, a better ROI.

FYIFYI: Soft skills are not just for employees. Leaders benefit from consistent soft-skill training to improve and maintain empathy and adaptability.

Good personal judgment

Some employees easily get distracted by their beliefs about how things should work. For instance, if they believe a co-worker isn’t doing a task correctly, they may lose focus on their own work goals. Many employees get sidetracked by problems and blame others, but those who are capable of exercising good judgment will do better for themselves and the business.

How to foster employees’ soft skills 

While some employees naturally excel at soft skills, others could benefit from training. Teaching soft skills to your team members can make them more well-rounded. The time you dedicate to soft skills training will pay off by improving employees’ ROI. Here are some tips for fostering your team’s soft skills:

Think creatively.

Creative thinking can boost business because when employees are encouraged to think outside the box, they are more likely to develop innovative solutions for customer service issues, product troubleshooting and marketing initiatives. Give your team room to experiment, and facilitate creative thinking exercises that allow this skill to flourish.

Did you know?Did you know? According to Deloitte, the creative economy could see 40% growth by 2030, creating 8 million jobs, including for those in creative supply chains (music, software, craft), shared IP and creative technology.

Teach the art of persuasion.

When productivity is at a standstill, persuasion can take a project from stagnation to completion. Persuasion doesn’t have to come from executives; any worker who’s capable of positively influencing their peers can boost ROI by convincing their co-workers to get the work done in the best way possible. That’s why it’s worth educating your team members on persuasive negotiation tactics.

Encourage collaboration.

Working as a team isn’t as easy as it sounds. It takes open-mindedness and a willingness to band together for the greater good. By collaborating, employees can learn new skills faster and share ideas to solve complex problems. Teamwork encourages a sense of unity and is vital for high morale. While some staffers naturally gravitate toward working as a team, encouraging workers who prefer working alone to collaborate can help increase soft skills for everyone in the group. Identify opportunities where a team is more likely to find success together than individually. [Read related article: How to Up Employee Performance with Collaboration]

Implement problem-solving sessions.

Workplace challenges occur daily, and how your workers approach and solve those problems can affect productivity. Encourage employees to tackle problems head-on. No matter what the employee’s role is, resilience and adaptability are essential. Educate your team on productive strategies for navigating difficulties.

Engage in conversation.

Communication in the workplace can make or break your business. You can prevent misunderstandings, resolve conflicts and maintain good morale through transparent communication. Regularly seek conversation with your team members, whether in person or via communication tools such as Slack, to find out what’s working at your company and what isn’t. Exemplify the kind of communication you expect from others. If you teach your team to communicate well, everyone will be on the same page.

FYIFYI: According to ZipRecruiter, between May 2021 and May 2022, more than 6 million job listings included communication skills as a job requirement. It was the most common soft skill requested.

Keep emotions in check.

Employees who can regulate their emotions are more efficient and resilient during challenges and conflicts. Offer educational sessions on mindfulness, self-care and mental health so your staff members can learn how to handle emotional fluctuations. Those who demonstrate this soft skill are better critical thinkers, have more mental space to be creative and are prime candidates for leadership positions.

Focus on time management.

While time management skills are a popular résumé bullet point, few workers truly possess them. Yet time management is essential for employee productivity, work-life balance and overall health. Teaching your staffers time management hacks and respecting employees’ time off can improve morale, stop absenteeism and increase efficiency.

Lynette Reed contributed to the writing and reporting in this article.

Image Credit: ASDF_MEDIA/Shutterstock
Julie Thompson
Julie Thompson
business.com Contributing Writer
business.comb.
Julie Thompson is a professional content writer who has worked with a diverse group of professional clients, including online agencies, tech startups and global entrepreneurs. Julie has also written articles covering current business trends, compliance, and finance.