One Could Say Soft-Skills Training is More Important Now Than Ever. So, Why Are We Cutting It?

“For the best return on your money, pour your purse into your head.”
― Benjamin Franklin

Layoffs are a cold, hard fact for many of us in Learning and Development. We don’t turn wrenches or build buildings. We don’t pull in new customers or upsell existing ones. L and D is viewed as a cost center and, therefore, is something that is always put under the microscope when cost-cutting is necessary. This is especially true for soft-skills training.

But that is done at the detriment of business on the whole, employees in particular, and customers in the end.

At a time like this, when there is so much uncertainty and confusion about how to just keep a business in operation, it’s understandable training could fall by the wayside—especially soft skills training. On the flip side, though, one could argue soft skills training is more important than ever. Can you think of a time when you have most needed to connect with and support others? Communication, collaboration, customer service, and analytical thinking (all soft skills), are necessary tools for companies, and their employees, to put into play right now. Yet, these same much-needed skills are the ones being pushed aside.

As Mr. Franklin said, in the quote above, investment in training and developing the knowledge and skill sets of employees is money well spent, yet companies are loath to spend it.

Let’s look at some real-life examples of times where employee training sure could help:

· Case #1—This case is about a retail store that has reopened to the public, and now faces issues with controlling traffic within the store and asking customers to adhere to guidelines and regulations.

People have been cooped up indoors for months, and now have the chance to get out, go to the mall, and flex their spending muscles. There is some pent-up demand out there, and this retailer is experiencing a sales boom. The customers want to buy, they’re ready to buy, they need to buy! However, the store staff are required to enforce health and safety regulations like controlling the number of people in the store, traffic flow throughout the store, and change room usage. Eager shoppers are less concerned with adherence to all these rules, and often try to force their way into the store, crowd in too closely to other customers and staff, and disregard the one person to a change room policy.