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Essential Workplace Skills

“First year turnover can create organizational chaos and cause significant financial hardship for employers.”   
-Tony Coletta, Vice President, HR, Advocate BroMenn Medical Center
“The first thing every employer asks me for? Candidates with employability skills. My clients often say, 'I don’t care if the candidates have all the technical skills for the job. If they possess the essential soft skills, I can teach them everything else.'”  
-Sam Lewis, Owner, Pridestaff   

Ensuring Employee Success 

More than 145 area employers have identified soft skills training as a crucial need for workplace success. The Essential Workplace Workshops were built to give employees the tools they need to improve those skills*, and may be taken as individually or as a series for maximum benefit.

Workshop Descriptions

Each 4-hour workshop includes small group and individual activities, role plays, scenarios and discussions for an interactive learning experience. Participants leave with tools and individual plans for immediate integration into the workplace.  

  • A true professional is one who adds value to their organization. In this session, cross check your professionalism against best practices. Learn how to positively influence coworkers and customers, relate to diversity, and adapt to various work environments. Understand how to use feedback to improve performance and be seen as a problem-solver. At the end of the session, you will have new tools that help you contribute to a healthy and positive workplace.

  • Communication drives workplace engagement. In this session, get more strategic about communication as a professional skill. Tune into your personal communication style and compare it to that of your peers, supervisors, and customers. Learn how to customize your approach and get the best results. Understand what to get right in managing in-person, written, and digital interactions to prevent conflict and promote productivity. Leave with new methods for connecting to others at work and contributing as a high-performing employee.

  • Organizations value individuals who make thoughtful decisions and set intentional goals. In this session, consider a 6-step process for making better work decisions. Practice goal writing and be ready to implement an action plan for growth and advancement. By understanding the concepts of habit change and influence, you will take greater ownership of your goals. Walk away knowing how to make your goals both personally and professionally worthwhile.

  • Stressors at work create opportunities to rethink our responses and habits. In this session, identify challenges in your professional life and what contributes to them. Adopt strategies such as a proactive mindset and what-if thinking to anticipate problems before they arise. Grow your emotional intelligence to improve encounters with peers, supervisors, and customers. Explore how attending to your whole self affects your professionalism and career path. Leave with an action plan that promotes resilience in the face of workplace demands.

  • Inclusive and cross-generational workplaces are today’s professional norm. In this session, assess your customer-centricity and learn how to maintain and improve trust. Expand communication skills, including use of technology, to serve internal and external customers equally well. Learn recovery steps that rebuild customer loyalty. Leave ready to provide professional customer-service excellence regardless of title or industry.


  • Ensure that your organization benefits from sending participants to EWS to improve soft skills. Attend a free 90-minute Supervisory Support Orientation. In this session, connect EWS topics to your organization’s mission and employee responsibilities. Learn to support participants’ ideas and action plans as they put them into practice back on the job. Walk through job tools that promote impactful and efficient follow-up conversations. Leave knowing what professional behaviors to monitor and feel confident that EWS will add value to your team.

    There is no cost for this 90 minute session.

  • When you are ready to bring EWS into your organization as ongoing professional development (PD), consider our Train the Trainer program. Through a combination of on-site and virtual learning events, you will become a certified instructor for each of the 4-hour modules that comprise the series. Activate facilitation skills to ensure a participant-centered experience. Explore approaches to teaching that engage learners and inspire real-world application. Practice pieces of EWS with feedback from program facilitator and peers, and build a plan to integrate EWS as a primary onboarding PD tool. Leave confident that improving soft skills across your company will impact the culture and generate strong results.

About the program

  • The Society for Human Resource Management found it costs about 38% of an employee’s annual earnings to replace them. Proportionally, the financial impact of turnover is even larger with entry-level workers.  

    A 2016 study from the assessment company Wonderlic found 93% of employers rated soft skills as “essential” or “very important” in hiring and retention decisions. However, in a survey by Udemy for Business, 72% of respondents provided no direct soft skills training to workers. The lack of soft skills among employees was identified as a pain point for most area employers on the BN Advantage survey.  

  • A Community Solution

    Heartland Community College (HCC), COMPACT and BN Advantage have partnered to deliver an intentional and consistent approach to soft skills training - a powerful strategy for our community. Benefits include promoting retention and effectiveness while strengthening employability of current and future workers.

    The Essential Workplace Skills Workshop Series

    Five initial Essential Workplace Skills (EWS) have been developed* with industry professionals and expert coaches who will also serve as Heartland’s EWS instructors.

    The flexible design of these 4-hour sessions allows the content to support the operations, goals and cultures of different employers. The workshops are designed to be taken as an integrated series for maximum benefit and can be completed in any order. If an individual needs support in just one or two skill areas, that works too.

    Take-Away Tools

    Participants leave each workshop with four simple tools to help them apply their new skills on the job and in daily life. These include a:

    • self-assessment to help them understand what they know and can do related to the skill area
    • set of clear goals they plan to work towards with support from a supervisor or mentor
    • tool to help them take the specific actions required to achieve their goals
    • self-review to foster reflection and allow supervisors and mentors to track the learner’s progress
  • Each open-enrollment EWS workshop at Heartland Community College is $60 per participant. On request, Heartland instructors can also provide a customized training to meet the needs of different audiences, businesses and organizations. 

    If a participant signs up for all 5 workshops, they will receive a discounted price at $50 per workshop. 

  • Heartland Community College can document and provide:

    • verification of workshop completion
    • a certificate recognizing individuals who take all five Essential Workplace Skills workshops at the College, or in a customized setting with a Heartland instructor
    • one credit hour for those who also turn in a portfolio for assessment that demonstrates successful application of the take-away tools and strategies across the five skill areas

If you prefer to register by phone, call us at (309)268-8160. If you have questions or need more information, please email Angie Coughlin or fill out the form below.



*The ICCB EES Framework was used as a reference point in the development of these workshops.

Heartland Community College                  Compact                    BN Advantage

Contact Us

Continuing Education
Heartland Community College
Workforce Development Center, Suite 2400
1500 West Raab Road
Normal, IL 61761
Phone: 309-268-8160
TDD: 309-268-8030
Fax: 309-268-7882
E-mail: Scot Smigel

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