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Grooming employees in soft skills helps improve productivity

Workers with well-honed soft skills – time and stress management, problem-solving, communication and good teamwork – tend to work at better firms and fetch higher wages, says a new study.

health and fitness Updated: Feb 04, 2017 13:35 IST
PTI
Soft Skills
Workers with well-honed soft skills – time and stress management, problem-solving, communication and good teamwork – tend to work at better firms and fetch higher wages.(Shutterstock)

Workers with well-honed soft skills – time and stress management, problem-solving, communication and good teamwork – tend to work at better firms and fetch higher wages, a new study conducted in India suggests.

Employer surveys suggest that this set of skills is just as highly demanded as technical know-how, researchers said.

Achyuta Adhvaryu, assistant professor at the University of Michigan in the US, analysed whether providing soft skills training to female garment workers in India could improve their workplace outcomes.

“We found that despite a high overall turnover rate in the industry, more treated workers are retained,” Adhvaryu said. “And treated workers are 12% more productive than those who did not receive the training in soft skills,” said Adhvaryu.

Employer surveys suggest that soft skills such as time management, problem solving are just as highly demanded as technical know-how. (Shutterstock)

The programme Adhvaryu and colleagues evaluated aimed to empower female garment workers with training in a broad variety of soft skills, including communication, time management, financial literacy, problem-solving, decision-making and legal literacy.

To assess the programme’s impacts, the researchers conducted a randomised controlled trial in five garment factories in Bengaluru. Workers enrolled in a lottery for the chance to participate, and then were chosen at random to take part in the programme. Those who were not randomly selected served as controls.

Nine months after the programme ended, productivity gains, along with an increase in person-days due to retention changes, helped generate a whopping 256 % net return on investment.

“Wages rose very little - about 0.5% – after the programme period, indicating that the firm keeps most of the gains from the increased productivity of labour,” said Adhvaryu, who collaborated with Namrata Kala of Harvard University and Anant Nyshadham of Boston College in the US for the study.

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