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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.

Call us at (309)268-8160 to register. If you have questions or need more information, please email Angie Coughlin.

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.  

Workshops are Fridays from 8AM-12PM on dates indicated:

  • Whether sharing updates, giving instructions, discussing problems or making decisions - effective communication is vital. Gain the skills and tools to properly use face-to-face and written communication for different audiences. After evaluating your own communication strengths you’ll create personalized templates so you’re ready to compose and deliver more effective messages.


  • Having a personalized action plan for success puts you on a path towards advancement. Using the Wise Choice Process and SMART goals method, you’ll learn to set short and long term professional goals. In addition, you’ll learn strategies for making better decisions each step along the way. 


  • Stress comes in many forms - from juggling priorities to handling differences with co-workers. Learn to identify your key stressors and ways to properly respond to them. You’ll develop a personalized action plan to anticipate and be ready to handle the challenges that come your way.


  • Whether you work with the public or serve people right inside your organization, being able to deliver excellent customer service is a must-have skill set. You’ll learn to identify and apply five strategies to navigate different challenging customer services situations. From effective listening to managing your emotions to problem-solving - you can be a difference-maker for your employer and the customer.  


  • Achieving on-the-job success requires more than just showing up to work on time. Through this session you’ll understand how to work with diverse colleagues in different professional environments. You’ll also learn to use feedback from supervisors and co-workers to improve your own job performance.

    Call (309) 268-8160 for schedule update

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
  • Employers

    Free orientations that provide an overview of the content and the take-away tools will be offered at HCC for supervisors, mentors, and those working directly with participants. This will ensure support for participants as they continue building and applying their new skills and strategies.  

    Periodic train-the-trainer classes will be offered at Heartland to ensure those choosing to instruct their own employees are confident in providing the workshops using the recommended instructional strategies. 


    Heartland Community College can document and provide:

    • verification of workshop completion
    • a certificate recognizing individuals who take all five Essential Employability 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
  • Each open-enrollment EES workshop at Heartland Community College is $50 per participant. On request, Heartland instructors can also provide a customized training to meet the needs of different audiences, businesses and organizations. 

*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

Campus Map (PDF)
Directions to Heartland Community College

Heartland Lincoln Center
Heartland Pontiac Center