Prioritize Soft Skills to Enhance Workplace and Employee Wellness
June 14, 2021
Maximizing wellbeing can prove to be a challenge in the best of times. During an unprecedented pandemic, it has been even more difficult to manage!
One 2020 poll revealed that 53% of adults reported their mental health had been negatively impacted due to stress since the COVID-19 outbreak. That decline doesn’t just affect the respondent. It has a ripple effect on their colleagues, family members and business. In fact, the World Health Organization reported that anxiety costs the global economy $1 trillion USD each year in lost productivity.
After the ups and downs we experienced in 2020, I think it’s safe to say that each of us has a greater understanding of just how much stress can impact our abilities to successfully navigate work and life. Still, it can be difficult to know how to help employees address uncertainty and build the skills they need to successfully manage the challenges and opportunities that come their way.
As businesses seek to support their people and improve business outcomes, they may be best positioned to achieve success by helping staff develop abilities that positively impact their approach to work and life.
Identifying Work-Life Skills to Support Workplace and Employee Wellbeing
2020 has demonstrated just how quickly technical needs can change as we’ve accelerated toward a digital-first world. It’s also highlighted the important role that soft talents play in supporting personal and professional success.
Udemy’s 2021 Workplace Learning Trends Report revealed that organizations are increasingly focused on building productivity and wellness capabilities that help minimize burnout and support wellbeing. The relevance of these life skills to business needs has also been underscored by popular career sites like Indeed and The Muse.
As you prioritize talents to help your staff manage today’s challenges, consider focusing your training efforts on:
• Enhancing self-awareness
Self-awareness impacts our work and life by helping us effectively manage our emotions, recognize opportunities for growth and utilize our strengths.
• Supporting mindfulness and stress management
As stress grows, having the skills to stay grounded can help us respond productively to personal and professional obstacles.
• Promoting change management and resilience
Change is a constant in our lives inside and outside of work. By enhancing adaptability, we can approach change with greater confidence and navigate its impact on our wellbeing.
• Advancing empathy and emotional intelligence (EQ)
EQ allows us to work better with others, have more patience and welcome new perspectives, which has a positive effect inside and outside of work.
• Improving communication and collaboration
With the tools to communicate and collaborate effectively, we can build better relationships and operate more productively.
• Supporting decision-making
When approaching a decision, having the tools to enhance our discernment can strengthen our personal effectiveness and business outcomes.
• Promoting learning and inquiry
If we approach each challenge as an opportunity for learning, we can embrace a mindset that will enhance our success in work and life.
• Enhancing diversity and culture understanding
We open up new possibilities and ideas that we may never have seen on our own when we learn to collaborate effectively with those who are different from us.
When employees possess each of these capabilities, you can see a positive impact on your staff’s mental health and your business’ bottom line. Still, it takes time and focus to intentionally make these talents part of your development programs. I recommend identifying your areas of focus by assembling a cross-functional team to help prioritize next steps by considering the potential impact of these abilities and the immediacy of the need for these capacities.
Six Ideas to Integrate Soft Skills into Your Learning & Development Programs
Delivering essential work-life capabilities to employees doesn’t have to be overly costly to realize impressive returns. I invite you to incorporate a number of the following recommendations to help employees develop the talents they need to support themselves and help your business thrive:
1. Uncover opportunities from your benefits provider.
Given the increasing focus on workplace wellness, many benefits providers are delivering a greater number of holistic wellbeing offerings. Partner with your benefits specialist to see what resources and programs may be at your employees’ fingertips or what may be available for a small investment.
2. Invest in priority training opportunities.
While budgets may be tight, it can make sense to hire an external expert or host trainings when you can realize a return on your investment. After you identify priority capabilities for your employees, consider reaching out to experts like the Emergenetics® team to identify relevant programs to advance your objectives.
3. Source and provide access to free online resources.
There are numerous online checklists, recorded webinars and blog posts that can help staff further their learning on a particular work-life skill. Consider spacing out the distribution of these materials to employees over time or create an on-demand library through your learning management system (LMS).
4. Create and monitor learning channels.
You don’t have to do it all alone! Your fellow colleagues may have ideas on where to find relevant resources to help staff grow. By utilizing existing chat channels or your LMS, you can create opportunities for team members to share ideas, materials and opportunities for capacity building.
5. Initiate peer coaching and mentorship.
Offering opportunities for staff to connect with one another can be a powerful way to engage team in learning, while helping them develop soft skills. Be sure to provide some training and ground rules as you start – and consider using the Emergenetics Profile to help employees coach and communicate meaningfully based on the preferences of their coachees.
6. Ask an internal expert to bolster learning.
Most people love to share their passions. While you may know some of the gifts of your employees, you can also have open calls to ask staff to share their knowledge. You may be surprised at what you turn up – for example, our staff now hosts a weekly centering opportunity to enhance mindfulness and productivity.
Soft talents are more essential than ever to support the ongoing health, wellness and success of your teams and business. As you plan your activities for the new year, I encourage you to identify a focus on at least one soft skill that will benefit your company and employees to start to see a positive impact on your people and bottom line.
Source: Emergenetics International