Developing Soft Skills Can Deliver Hard ROI
Developing Soft Skills Can Deliver Hard ROI

Developing Soft Skills Can Deliver Hard ROI

Leadership Development, Employee Learning & Development, Hybrid Workforce   — 3 MIN


When we think about the need for employee education programs, a lot of focus lands on “hard skills” - the abilities employees need to complete their specific jobs. While helping employees maintain their edge when it comes to the latest computer programming, HR, or legal developments, don’t make the mistake of thinking that is all there is to continuing employee education. As the global market becomes more interconnected, “soft skills” - interpersonal skills like leadership ability, resilience, and emotional intelligence sometimes referred to as “human skills” - are increasingly important for companies that want a competitive edge.

Soft skills are broadly applicable to all workplace settings, and more importantly, they are learnable. Some signs that your workplace may need a refresher on soft skills include high employee turnover, a lack of leadership, or a problem keeping clients once they are signed. But even if your organization isn’t suffering from a lack of soft skills, it could still benefit from helping your employees improve their active listening, conflict resolution, and other interpersonal skills.

The impact of soft skills training

A study found that promoting soft skills like effective communication and problem-solving among employees increased productivity, employee retention, and yielded an overall 250% return on investment. Consider implementing training on the following soft skills to see a similar improvement in your organization:


In a rapidly evolving workplace, adaptability is critical. It ensures that employees remain agile and responsive to shifting priorities, technological advancements, and market dynamics. What sets successful employees apart is the ability to bounce back from defeats with continued focus and determination. 


Creativity is the wellspring of innovation. It enables employees to think beyond traditional boundaries, identify novel solutions, and develop innovative products, services, or processes. In a rapidly evolving business landscape, the ability to innovate is essential for maintaining competitiveness. When faced with limitations, creative thinkers find imaginative ways to overcome obstacles and make the most of available resources. This skill is particularly valuable in resource-constrained environments.


The ability to work well with others is a key skill in the modern workplace. However, all employees have differing levels of comfort when it comes to collaboration. Some people gravitate toward working on a team naturally, while others have a preference for working alone. Despite these natural inclinations, everyone can work on improving their ability to work on a team, which is great both for individuals and the companies they work for.


Effective communication is skills such as clarity, non-verbal cues, confidence, and active listening, that together make one adept at written and oral communication. Building this in your people has obvious benefits, but perhaps more importantly, NOT developing communication skills can have negative effects. For example, one report cites that 46% of attendees leave meetings without a clear understanding of the next action item, with an estimated cost of $37 billion in lost productivity.

Decision making

The ability to make quick decisions under pressure is one that any organization should value. We can’t always anticipate which problems will occur at work, which is why teaching employees the general skills they need to handle anything that might get thrown at them is a good way to tackle a little issue before it gets big. Learning programs that upskill this attribute can be highly effective—86% of learners report better decision-making after learning with Blue Ocean Brain.

Time management

The ability to manage one’s time effectively is a skill that all employees need, regardless of their title. The less experience an employee has, the less likely they are to have already developed this skill. Smart employers help employees learn time management skills instead of waiting for them to stumble.

Microlearning for soft skills training

Emphasizing soft skills is particularly vital in helping your organization’s leaders improve and thrive. Your organization’s leaders set the tone for your entire team, which will result in greater productivity (a benefit for your bottom line) and improved office culture (a benefit for your employees). These skills will also help your leaders avoid wearing blinders when it comes to what is going on at your organization. If your leaders don’t see happening at your organization, they can’t address problems or coordinate initiatives effectively. Offering leaders targeted lessons on soft skill development will help them maintain empathy and agility as they help move your organization forward.

Unlike hard skills, which may require lengthier training in the classroom environment, microlearning is perfectly designed to address soft skills. Microlearning's effectiveness lies in its ability to deliver relevant, engaging, and accessible learning experiences that align with the needs of modern learners. Its versatility and adaptability make it a valuable tool for organizations looking to enhance employee skills, knowledge, and performance.

To learn more about how Blue Ocean Brain can help your organization implement lasting culture and people change, click here to schedule a consultation.