The challenge in front of HR leaders and learning professionals is multifold. Creating future-forward, engaging, and impactful learning programs needs, experimenting with learning pedagogies to choose the one that works best for their workforce, and ensuring a focus on soft skills are pillars of a robust learning strategy.
To find impactful strategies to raise productivity and help address the need to build the right soft skills, People Matters and Pearson conducted a roundtable discussion on Decoding the Language of Success: Strategies for a Productive Workforce. With top HR leaders and learning professionals elucidating strategies, challenges, and insights on building a productive future, we look at some lessons from the session.
Soft skills are Key to Success
Soft and behavioural skills are vital today to accelerate productivity, engagement, and experience in a globalised world of work. Skills such as communication are critical for organisations across the board. The real challenge in front of companies today is to create buy-in. While the impact of technical skills development is tangible, companies need to find better ways of creating and mapping the progress of soft skill development.
This rising focus on soft skills is not surprising. In a recent Linkedin study, 91% of recruitment professionals agreed on the critical importance of soft skills. Another Deloitte study posits that by 2030, jobs demanding soft skills are expected to constitute 63% of all jobs.
'We need to focus on soft skills, or role agnostic skills. Today skills like negotiation, communication etc are equally critical to address. They play a huge role and it's becoming more important every day,’ shared Ritu Agast, Director of HR, at Pearson.
Soft skills like communication today are also critical across job levels. ensuring that people at different stages of their careers can put forward their points and be an active part of the company's culture. It opens up career progression opportunities and ensures that companies have the right people in place.
Prabul Ravindran, Director-ELL-India, added that this communication was key for Pearson to help companies build and address. ‘Enabling HR leaders to address this need by creating learning and assessment tools that meet their unique demands is of key focus to us,’ he added
Yet talking about soft skills leaders in the discussion raised vital questions on how and where they face challenges. For Sandeep Magawi, Learning and Knowledge Leader at IBM, it is the problem of quantifying ROI for soft skills development. ‘The ROI derived from technological skills based training is easier to show than when it comes to other soft skill training.’ Other HR leaders furthered this point by sharing how better tools and impact assessments for building soft skills are required.
Learning Pedagogies and Training Effectiveness
HR leaders need to fabricate training models that ensure user participation. Training effectiveness depends on modalities and requires the right focus to be delivered effectively., noted an HR leader during the discussion.
For many, bite-sized learning was crucial to ensuring engagement and effectiveness. In the case of both technical skills and soft skills training, creating immersive, bite-sized learning programs is vital for companies to be successful. Imparting learning content and upskilling have to reflect generational preferences today.
Today employees are learning from various sources. To ensure companies can engage learners and provide them with the right content, HR leaders need a mindset shift and look beyond traditional learning methodologies to create the right learning impact.
For soft skill training efficacy, it was also important to create post learning interventions to ensure content retention. ‘How do you create post intervention stickiness is an equally important consideration for Learning professionals to raise. Through regular follow-up and discussion sessions, one can ensure soft skills being imparted are also absorbed and retained,’ added Alexander R, Director - Human Resources at ORACLE
The art of storytelling in learning remains a powerful tool, though specific recent statistics on its impact were not readily available. Storytelling techniques, as underscored by leaders at the roundtable, help create memorable and engaging learning experiences that resonate deeply with learners.
Even when it comes to training leaders, leaders noted that showcasing the need to build the right skills and linking it to customer demands helps create buy-in. Mary Andrews, AVP Learning & Development, at Genpact explained how a 360 degree assessment was a crucial part of leadership development. ‘It helped us create the necessary self-awareness among leaders and ensure they knew of what the client expects from them to help tailor learning programs,’ she added.
Executive and leadership buy-in, for many, proved to be an equally important factor for ensuring learner participation and creating a culture that supports skilling. Creating the right expectations proves to be equally important in engaging learners and creating the buy-in. ‘Expectations setting is required and an important conversation to do right at the beginning. Aligning learners to learning priorities and ensuring learners are in tune with organisational priorities is required. And this alignment has to be driven driven from the top,’ noted Smita Chaturvedi Zone head - HR, Aditya Birla Finance
Hiring the right learners
Hiring the right people through assessments proves to be a critical link between productivity and being able to upskill people quickly. Given how company culture operates, companies need hiring solutions that are scalable and help them identify people who come with the right soft skills and are ready to learn and relearn quickly.
According to Ritu Agast, the “two major pillars to productivity are hiring— right place, right people, and L&D which includes aspects like succession planning, people growth etc.” While often the conversation of skilling and productivity lies with L&D teams, leaders agreed that hiring people with the right soft skills and cultural fit with the organisation helps them raise the bar of skilling impact.
Pearson is today one of the world’s leading learning companies, serving in more than 200 countries with digital content, assessments, qualifications, and data. Today it works with over 2,000 leading enterprises around the world, helping them to diagnose skill gaps, identify learning pathways and interventions, and mobilise their workforces through verifiable skill credentials. To find out more visit here.