Work

Workers are taking courses online to communicate better off-line—here's why

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It may sound counter-intuitive, but today workers are turning to online courses to improve their off-line communication abilities.

According to a recent analysis by LinkedIn Learning, the No. 1 topic that learners took the most courses in this year was communication.

The trend could be seen across all age brackets, from Generation Z workers at the beginning of their careers to baby boomers at the management and executive levels.

One reason communication was the most popular topic, Emily Poague, vice president of LinkedIn Learning told CNBC Make It: There is a large volume of communication classes offered online, driven by a strong interest.

But also, Poague noted, a wide range of workers appear to be deeply invested in learning how to better collaborate with their colleagues.

"Communication is one of those skills that's universal," she explained. "It's something that everyone feels like they need to work on."

Poague added that some workers may feel embarrassed or uncomfortable taking an in-person course on communication.

"It's harder sometimes for people to sort of publicly go to a class about communication," she said. "The medium of online learning lends itself really well to brushing up on that sort of universal skill."

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It is important to note that 2019 was a tense year for many workplaces, forcing workers to stretch their communication abilities.

Conversations about sensitive topics from sexual assault to politics have many workers regularly navigating difficult discussions, and experts predict that this tense climate will continue into the new year.

According to a recent survey from the Society for Human Resource Management, 42% of U.S. employees say they have personally experienced, and 44% say they have witnessed, political disagreements at work.

"One year out from the 2020 election, we should expect to see political disagreements increase even further in the coming months," said Johnny Taylor, SHRM president and CEO.

But it may be heartening to know that workers are actively working on learning better ways to communicate with one another.

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