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Improve Your HR Soft Skills to Stay Ahead of the Curve

5 min read
hr soft skills

Skill building is a lifelong process for any working professional. Whether you’re just starting your career or a seasoned HR manager, developing your skills will always be on the agenda. So what skills do you need to succeed as a human resources manager? Time management, record-keeping, and communication skills are to name but a few. Yet, these sorts of skills can be broken down into hard and soft skills. 

Today we’re going to take a look at some of the most important HR soft skills. As well, how these skills can be measured and how they can be developed will be highlighted. 

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What are Soft Skills and Hard Skills?

What exactly are the differences between these skills? Hard skills are teachable and measurable. For example, writing, reading, maths, or using computer software programs. These skills are easy to quantify and are typically learned in the classroom, through further training, or on the job. 

Soft skills, on the other hand, are a mix of personality traits, behaviors, and social attitudes. They allow people to communicate effectively, collaborate, and manage conflict well. They are subjective, meaning they’re not so easy to measure and can be more complex to learn. 

Although both skill sets are necessary for an HR manager, soft skills at work have been previously overlooked. Now more than ever, they are becoming increasingly important in the workplace. To be successful, being a computer whiz or a mathematical genius is not enough. Human resource professionals and team members with high emotional intelligence are ever-increasingly sought-after. Soft job skills allow people to foster better connections with clients. They also encourage networking and benefit teamwork. 

7 Types of Soft Skills

Any people operations or hr professional who possesses soft skills is considered extremely useful to a business. Depending on one’s chosen HR career path, some soft skills are more in demand than others.  For example, if you are a people operations manager, leadership qualities may be more important than someone with a more specialized or assisting role. lthough the soft skills list is long, there are 7 soft skills thought to be particularly desirable. These skills include: 

1. Teamwork 

A business’ success is usually the result of a group of people coming together to work towards a common goal. This is the central foundation of any productive and coherent company. Teamwork soft skills, therefore, are essential. 

2. Communication 

In terms of good soft skills, both verbal and written communication is key. This includes the ability to compose emails or text messages, as well as to speak clearly and concisely. Active listening is also considered in this sense too. Listening skills are important in order to effectively communicate with colleagues and clients. 

3. Work ethic

Employers like workers to be responsible. This means punctuality, meeting deadlines, commitment, performing to excellent standards, and going the extra mile on a daily basis. HR staff, in particular, look for these qualities in candidates and current employees. 

4. Leadership 

Leaders are valuable as they hold the ability to assess, motivate and discipline workers. They are directly involved in conflict resolution and cultivating the company culture. Employees who display leadership skills may one day hold high-level management positions. They also have the ability to successfully lead a team and achieve their business goals. 

5. Adaptability

Rapid changes are common within 21st-century workplaces. Workers need to be able to adapt to these with ease and agility. What’s more, companies often require employees to take on multiple different tasks at once. These tasks can often fall outside the worker’s expertise, making adaptability essential. 

6. Problem-solving 

One of the main reasons that companies employ people is to solve problems. When an issue arises, a worker’s ability to offer solutions and fix them is invaluable. It saves time, money, and stress for everyone. Thus, making it one of the best soft skills to have. 

7. Interpersonal 

Interpersonal skills fall under the category of soft people skills. Generally speaking, these include the ability to create and uphold relationships, build rapport and be diplomatic. Receiving and offering constructive criticism, as well as tolerance and respect for others are also included. 

How can you measure soft skills?

HR managers rate any of the abilities on this soft skills list highly when looking for candidates for new job openings. Similarly, as they’re so desirable, managers are on the lookout for ways to measure them. Yet, this poses a problem. Being so subjective, they’re incredibly difficult to measure. For instance, they don’t appear on CVs or LinkedIn pages. 

That being said, there do exist a few ways in which human resources management can measure these HR skills. 

Assessment tools

Self-assessment and self-reporting tools can be useful for predicting and indicating emotional intelligence. What’s more, they can show communication and critical thinking abilities. 

Feedback software 

Asking for regular feedback through HR software from managers and colleagues regarding employees is key. It offers first-hand written input which can be assessed and measured over time. 

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Surveys and questionnaires

Employee engagement surveys are also a good tool. They have the ability to show the level of commitment, ambition, and passion a worker has.


HR metrics and data can be used to analyze the frequency of particular behaviors. For example, inputting how frequently employers praise staff. Like this, the skills can be measured as long as data is frequently input. 

HR Soft Skills Development 

So now you’ve familiarized yourself with the soft skills list and the ways they can be measured. Yet, suppose your employees are lacking in these skills? You might be wondering how they can learn and develop them. Although they’re not easy to spot and measure, there are a number of ways in which HR soft skills can be developed

Soft skills training course 

A course could be offered to general employees in any position. Or, specialized courses for the training of specific workers, such as leaders and managers, could be implemented. Skills would be identified, analyzed, and put into practice. 


These activities can be done in the afternoon, on weekdays, or even over the weekend. The activities used in team-building help workers to act in a cohesive group to solve a problem. They allow you to use an array of soft skills to achieve the task’s objective. These sorts of activities help strengthen an employee’s level of communication and aid them in mastering their social interaction skills It helps make someone a good communicator, as well as mastering social interaction skills. 


There’s a lot to be learned about office dynamics and communication from simply observing others in the workplace. Placing employees in new departments or with other colleagues to simply watch and learn from them is a great way to develop new soft skills. These can then be put into practice in their normal day-to-day. 


In some cases, bringing in an outside coach who is specialized in crafting these skills may be the answer. These people are experts in training employees to master people-related skills. 


Companies tend to focus particularly on hard skills and technical competencies. This is especially the case when planning for development. Yet, more and more, soft skills are becoming vital to company functions. New offices, positions, and business matters are requiring a higher level of emotional intelligence, communication, and interpersonal skill. Therefore, it is highly recommended that any business prioritize HR soft skills from now on.

Focus your energy on nurturing your employee’s soft skills, and less time stuck in manual HR processes, all thanks to Factorial – Try for free!

Contributed by Charlotte Stace; Edited by Tanya Lesiuk

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