12 Essential Soft Skills For Human Resources Professionals

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Professionals working in the human resources or HR industry require specific soft skills to effectively fulfil their duties. These soft skills include the traits and behaviours you demonstrate in different situations and dictate how well you can manage professional relationships. If you are considering a career in HR, learning about these soft skills can be beneficial for you. In this article, we discuss 12 essential soft skills for human resources and explain how they can help HR professionals in career development.

Related: The Functions And Departments Of HR: A Complete Guide

What are soft skills for human resources?

Soft skills for human resources are the combination of certain personality traits, behaviours and social attitudes that make it easy to manage people and maintain interpersonal relationships. Soft skills are essential, non-technical, non-cognitive capabilities that dictate how you interact with colleagues, solve problems and manage your responsibilities. These skills comprise a person's emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) as opposed to their intelligence quotient (IQ).

The HR department handles and manages the workforce. It requires you to supervise and interact with people. HR soft skills can be subjective, intangible abilities that are difficult to measure and learn. Having these essential skills can make it easier for you to perform your HR responsibilities like interviewing, hiring, training and engaging employees.

Related: Importance Of Soft Skills In The Workplace

12 soft skills for human resources and their importance

Having the following skills can help HR professionals and leaders fulfil their duties effectively:

1. Research

Research skills are the ability to find an answer to a question by gathering information from credible sources. Research skills are essential for HR professionals, as they routinely look for the latest information and collect new data.

Having research skills can help you recruit better candidates who are a better fit for the organisation. Being able to research information like the industry processes, average salary and job responsibilities can help create a suitable job description when hiring. Research skills also help you conduct crucial HR processes like candidate verification.

2. Strategic thinking

Strategic thinking skills enable you to solve complex business problems and plan effectively. HR professionals often handle problems that require strategy creation and implementation. Having a strategic mindset helps identify an organisation's current and future human resources requirements that are necessary for achieving its goals. This skill enables you to create people-centric solutions for solving problems, resolving conflicts, providing inputs during policy creation and building the company's culture. This skill is also valuable during talent acquisition, as it helps you create plans to implement hiring strategies that work effortlessly and help you select the right people.

3. Organisation

Organisational skills allow you to use resources efficiently and optimise time management. HR teams work as liaisons between employees, directors and CEOs and manage multiple tasks concerned with different people and departments. When managing a busy schedule, organisation skills can be helpful. For instance, organising your personal calendar is vital for accommodating essential HR tasks like coordinating and attending meetings, setting up employee training and development programmes and arranging company events.

Accuracy is the ability to perform with precision and minimal errors. These skills are useful when filing and managing critical documents like employment agreements and personal data. Your organisation abilities and accuracy help you manage your time and stay productive while performing routine tasks.

4. Communication

Communication skills allow you to understand others, express your thoughts, exchange information and offer feedback. As a people-focused function that connects businesses and employees, strong communication skills can be essential for any HR role. This involves both verbal and written communication in your dealings with prospective employees and existing colleagues. As an HR professional, verbal communication skills can be helpful when interviewing candidates, negotiating salaries, training new employees and investigating employee issues or concerns. Written communication can prove useful when interacting with colleagues through emails, reports, company newsletters and feedback, where expressing yourself clearly and effectively is critical.

Read more: How To Overcome Communication Barriers: Benefits And Tips

5. Confidentiality

Confidentiality in the workplace means protecting sensitive business and personnel matters. HR employees can be privy to different types of confidential information, from sensitive and private workplace topics to compensation details. Being a trustworthy person with strong ethics and an impartial attitude is vital for HR professionals.

This skill includes being discreet about corporate information and policies, making sure conversation topics and tone are appropriate for the issues you discuss, offering unbiased advice to an organisation's workforce, maintaining objectivity and practising confidentiality in your hiring practices. If you have the skill to remain impartial and practise discretion when necessary, employees may feel more comfortable approaching you with their problems.

6. Negotiation

Negotiation skills are inherent qualities that help two or more parties agree to shared terms. Most interviews include some form of negotiation related to the salary, benefits and responsibilities. It is the HR department's responsibility to ensure that the company compensates its employees fairly while also making sure that employee expenses remain within the company's budget. The HR representative has to ensure that they safeguard the interests of both the company and the employees.

This makes negotiation skills a vital skill for HR professionals. These skills can also help HR professionals manage workplace complaints and pacify unsatisfied employees during the performance management or contract renewal process. Being an effective negotiator can help HR professionals understand the other person and know when to yield to certain demands and find the best solution for both parties.

Read more: Negotiation Skills: Definitions, Benefits And Examples

7. Decision making

Decision making is the ability to reach the best outcome by accounting for comprehensive information. While working in HR, making tough decisions is going to be a part of your everyday responsibilities. Your decision-making skills can influence the entire employee lifecycle from the time you identify prospective talent to the subsequent stages of hiring, performance management, compensation and exit. Your decision-making skills determine which candidate becomes an employee and how engaged they feel while working.

Strong decision-making skills can help you assess the pros and cons of different options, analyse complex information and reach the most effective solution in the shortest time.

8. Mentoring

Mentoring includes coaching that helps individuals improve their skills and give them suggestions that are in their best interest. HR professionals oversee the onboarding and training process for the workforce, which makes these skills crucial. Coaching skills can help you create training programmes to train existing employees and new hires for maximum learning and upskilling. By mentoring new employees, you can help them adjust to their new roles and responsibilities, improve employee engagement and reduce the attrition rate.

9. Administration

Administrative skills help you complete tasks related to managing a team. In an HR role, you may be managing the overall experience of people working at the organisation to ensure high levels of productivity, motivation and engagement. Having administrative skills can also be useful when performing tasks like managing employee leave, absence filing, updating databases and maintaining employee records. They also help implement payroll functions, revise company policies, ensure legal compliance, process expense forms and create reports and presentations. Administrative skills can also help HR professionals perform repetitive tasks with accuracy and speed.

10. Conflict resolution

Conflict resolution is the process of recognising and solving problems between two or more individuals or groups. Mediating between staff conflicts and working out mutually satisfactory solutions can be challenging for the HR department. This can determine how employees view the company and the fairness of its policies. When faced with a conflict, someone with strong conflict resolution skills can find creative and strategic ways to resolve the issue in a way that is beneficial to both the concerned parties. Remaining impartial and firm about the decision is also equally essential.

Read more: What Is Conflict Resolution? Using This Practice At Work

11. Adaptability

Adaptability refers to a person's ability to change their approach to doing things to suit a new situation. Daily proceedings in a company can involve unpredictable circumstances, such as employees quitting, a change in management or the introduction of new technology. Being able to quickly adapt to such changes and appropriately respond to them is critical for HR professionals. This includes forecasting future management trends, modifying old policies, creating new workplace strategies and helping employees embrace these changes. Adaptability requires foresight and self-assessment qualities and can help HR employees strive to continually improve the workplace.

12. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to relate to emotions in others and understand their perspectives, while respect is treating everyone equally despite their differences. These core abilities can help you apply all other skills, like conflict management, negotiation, communication and coaching. Understanding people's unique challenges and experiences help you view a problem from their perspective. Respecting intercultural differences, communication cues and other variances can ensure that all employees feel valued and included. Respect and empathy contribute to fostering employee well-being and satisfaction and contribute to healthy workplace culture.

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