12 Aug 2020 20:48 IST

E-learning makes interpersonal skills important again

Students are picking up verbal cues and honing their soft skills through online classes

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted long-established working practices for many industries across the world. This has called for professionals to work-from-home while communicating effectively with each other to ensure healthy professional relationships and productivity within and across teams. According to the LinkedIn Annual Global Talent Trends 2019 report, 87 per cent of respondents in India believe that candidates with strong interpersonal skills will be increasingly important to the success of their organisations.

Learning curve

The importance of soft skills has further been amplified for professionals in order to get along with their peers better, communicate effectively, and display a positive attitude as remote working has become the new normal. However, since most people are used to working in a physical setting, it becomes imperative to hone these soft skills.

Interestingly, we have seen that professionals who take up online learning programmemes get better at these skills through the course of the programmeme. When enrolled in a carefully crafted professional learning programmeme, the pedagogy of it is such that learners get to interact online with students from diverse backgrounds. Such programmes involve peer learning activities, group assignments, and mentorship sessions that enable communication across hierarchies. At first, it is surely a new experience for most of them, but with the passage of time, they learn to pick up non-verbal cues and hone their soft skills, improving the overall dynamics within the team.

New routines take shape

The right approach to communication and collaboration increases the group’s efficiency and its members’ productivity, despite being connected remotely. Additionally, these also help learners improve higher order skills, such as, self-motivation, critical reasoning, problem-solving attitude, and leadership capabilities. The cohort-based approach helps an individual develop a sense of responsibility, creative thinking, and empathy.

Soft skills are increasingly becoming the hard skills of today's workforce — and in today’s times, the importance of these skills cannot be overlooked. Most businesses, such as, IT, pharma, e-commerce, and retail require proficiency in interpersonal skills. Professionals who possess these skills have an edge over their peers because of changing work patterns, including flexible schedules of colleagues, working with multiple stakeholders virtually, and the intertwining of everyone’s work and personal life.

Unintended consequences

Even if one’s role is specialised and technical in nature, the benefits of soft skills are unparalleled. With organisations making their hiring criterion more demanding than ever, the need for professionals to reprogramme their outlook towards skills, such as, ease in collaboration, communication, analytical capabilities, and resilience has become extremely crucial. This is a welcome development moving away from the conventional and theoretical methods of learning and teaching towards more practical, hands-on skilling techniques.

The online upskilling programmemes are making professionals industry-ready by offering them a holistic learning experience, and this is evident from the exponential growth in demand these skills have had during such times.

(The writer is Director, People Operations, Great Learning.)