Onboarding is both a nervous and an exciting experience for a new employee. A new employee brings to the table varied technical know-how. However, soft skills are an area where a new employee may require training.
In this blog, we will look at how to fill the soft skills gap while onboarding a new employee.
Transition to a new workplace can be confusing for both college hires and lateral hires. The change in the work environment from point A to point B makes it difficult for them to integrate. For college students, the change is drastic. A typical onboarding revolves around setting up required tools, network access, email, and in some cases a formal introduction on the floor. This is an apt time to get to know new inductees and to recommend appropriate soft skills competencies for them, rather than let them go on with the usual and try and bring change later, or simply make do with what is available.
The Soft Skills Challenge
Most people would not hesitate to admit that they lack or are not up to the mark in certain hard skills. But, due to the personal nature of soft skills, it becomes difficult for them to even acknowledge that there might be scope for improvement. A lot of it is also deep-rooted and requires immense and consistent effort to change.
Employers often have no choice but to get the work done and make do with limited soft skills, as pointing out inadequacies in an employee’s personal and interpersonal skillset might prove upsetting and may result in negative consequences, if not handled sensitively.
Blended Learning is the Way
Well-designed microlearning modules can act as a solid foundation for an effective learning experience. These modules can have a host of customization options, which can be implemented easily, making learning personal and relatable. Each module would focus on one specific, narrow goal. A collection of such modules can be designed to achieve a much larger goal. The continuity in learning would not be compromised, as each module is a complete learning experience in itself. A discussion with the learner before assigning modules would help make it relevant and enhance effectiveness.
The Human Element
Integrating microlearning modules with real-world tasks, which are required to be carried out at the workplace, will bring in the necessary human element in learning. Such tasks will push the learners out of their comfort zones and also break the monotony of interacting with a machine. The complexity of the tasks can vary with time and also the role of the employee in the organization may change over a period of time. For example, a fresh inductee in sales and marketing could be assigned a task that requires him to head out on the streets and gather feedback about a certain product.
Closing the Loop
As Chris Dede (2010) rightly points out, “intellectual, emotional, and social support is essential for “unlearning” and for transformational relearning that can lead to deeper behavioral changes to create next-generation educational practices.” Peer support would close the loop for learners by giving them constructive feedback. Bringing peers in the learning process also distributes the responsibility, not limiting it to just a mentor or a coach. Add to that, diverse teams ensure diverse learning.
To conclude, despite the advent of artificial intelligence and robotics, machines still cannot achieve a lot of what humans can. It is for this reason that soft skills have become more and more relevant even in the digital age. With the ever-increasing symbiosis with technology in our everyday lives, it seems blended learning is the way forward as it provides the best of both worlds. It harnesses technological advances and retains the human element too.
- Szilárda, S., Benedeka, A., & Ionel-Cioca, L. (2018). “Soft Skills Development Needs and Methods in Micro-Companies of ICT Sector.” Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 94-103.
- Dede, C. (2010). “Comparing Frameworks for 21st Century Skills.” In J. A. Bellanca, & R. Brandt, 21st Century Skills: Rethinking How Students Learn (pp. 51-76). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.