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36 SMT007 MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2020 they prefer to promote from within to give their employees a chance to evolve and grow with the company. The trouble is just because an employee has put in the time to master a certain technical skill does not neces- sarily mean that employee possesses all of the tools needed for promotion. This customer was looking for a way to better develop in their hourly employees both the skills and the tools. To accomplish this will require a customized and online learning portal from which the customer can give access to its employees to learn skills such as critical thinking, team- work, communication, and leadership. A terrific real-world example of the value and benefit of soft skills can be found when we look at our military veterans who have transi- tioned into civilian careers. lists teamwork, leadership, cross-functional and transparent communication, critical thinking, and problem solving as some of the top soft skills that are taught in the military and are to be credited for a veteran's success in the civilian workforce. The success of that veteran will directly translate to a win for the com- pany that hires them. If the employee is win- ning, the company is winning. And with the skill set mentioned previously, it is no won- der that many companies report having a 60% increase in retention rates when they hire mili- tary veterans. Soldiers exiting the military with these skills likely did not have them when they entered, which means they can be taught, we overlook the opportunity to make our work- force more effective and efficient through the proper application of training, but why? Well, for one, it's difficult to measure. In a metrics- centric world, we prefer direct correlations. We like it when the new machine is two times faster than the old one or uses 75% of the pro- cess inputs for the same output. Training our employees in soft skills, such as leadership skills, communication, conflict resolution, and reinforcement of general math, unfortunately, does not directly correlate to our production metrics. There are, however, sev- eral proven results that come from investing in training your employees, including attract- ing and keeping great employees, creating pro- motable employees, and keeping employees engaged. Disengaged employees can be poison in the workforce. At best, they are unproduc- tive. At worst, they can actively work against the company and damage the culture that has been put in place. There is one more key aspect: It forces you to look to the future. There is a correlation between forward-thinking employ- ers and successful employers. In a recent discussion with a prominent Colo- rado Springs manufacturer about online learn- ing platforms, the desire for soft skills training was identified. This company takes extremely good care of its employees. They have top-shelf benefits, excellent work accommodations and break areas, and even a giant playground for their employees' children. Whenever possible,

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