How to build soft skills for employees

There’s no question about the critical role that hard skills play in the workplace. Easy to measure and define, these skills involve specific knowledge and abilities needed to complete a job.

Equally important in the workplace are soft skills – the non-technical skills that help employees interact effectively with others. These can include skills such as time management, confidence and adaptability. Even though they are more challenging than hard skills to quantify and learn, soft skills help workers to be adaptable and motivated throughout their whole employment and as they move into new roles or careers. In other words, they lay the foundation for a strong and flexible workforce and for happy, fulfilled workers.

Here’s how to develop the soft skills at your organization.

Step #1: Assess your employees

Before any soft skills training can begin, you need to identify where the gaps are in your workforce. This can be challenging to do, because soft skills are often non-quantifiable skills that can be challenging to measure.

This is where self-assessment can be used as a valuable evaluation tool. Ask your employees to (honestly) brainstorm their best and worst soft skills or complete an online questionnaire.

Another solution is to implement a framework that codifies soft skills and outlines their respective evaluation standards, such as FutureWorx’s Employability Skills Assessment Tool (ESAT).

Combine these assessments with 360-degree feedback to identify employees’ soft skills gaps. Keep in mind that employees with great soft skills are typically self-aware and are keen on addressing blind spots.

Step #2: Encourage skills development

Once you identify the soft skills that require improvement, it’s time to get employees on board with training. Provide examples of the importance that soft skills play in your workplace. Demonstrate how improving them can also improve an employee’s performance.

Of course, rewards and incentives will encourage employees, too. Consider implementing a unique program at your organization that positively recognizes employees who complete soft skills learning sessions.

Step #3: Offer suitable training

There are many ways to conduct soft skills training in the workplace. Perhaps your company already has someone in a training and development role that could help deliver programming. If this is the case, check out UP Skills for Work, which offers free downloadable workbooks on nine key soft skills. You may also consider partnering with a local literacy organization to help deliver this program.

Additionally, depending on your budget, you may look to hire an outside consultant or expert in this area to build a customized program that fits the needs of your employees.

Step #4: Provide opportunities for feedback

Next, your employees need to take what they learned in their soft skills training and incorporate it into their workday. Practise skills such as teamwork, attitude and motivation in small group projects or activities. Project assignments offer an excellent opportunity for problem-solving and creative skills to shine.

Encourage further development of an employee’s soft skills by offering periodic feedback.


Employers who strengthen these skills in their employees note higher productivity levels and create a stronger, more flexible workforce. Employees with effective soft skills are happier, more fulfilled, and can advance into new roles or careers more easily.

For more information on developing soft skills in employees, check out UP Skills for Work, a free soft skills program. Contact our team today to learn more about how you can implement this program in your workplace.