Top 10 HR Soft Skills in 2023 [A guide]

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Human resources professionals play pivotal roles in organizations ranging from the recruitment and selection of qualified candidates to the development of employees’ skills, performance, and engagement to compliance and benefits. In addition to these roles, there are the soft skills needed to execute them and manage people.

 In this article, we look at what HR soft skills are, why they are important, and the essential HR soft skills that influence your organization positively. 

What are HR soft skills?

Soft skills are the core or inherent skills in every individual that help them interact with others. These skills cut across all professional roles and are not only human resources personnel qualities. For you to interact with and understand others, you have to possess soft skills. 

HR soft skills can be akin to interpersonal skills, as they involve showing empathy, the ability to collaborate with others, communicating effectively, being confidential, and being strategic in thinking. Human resources personnel who lack essential soft skills won’t deliver maximally compared to those who possess these soft skills. Some people feel soft skills can’t be learned like hard skills, which is a bogus claim. You can learn and acquire soft skills. Not all people are born natural public speakers; however, you can develop public speaking skills with practice and commitment. You can take courses and look for a mentor to guide you in your soft skill development.

Why are HR soft skills important?

Soft skills are vital for every human resources professional, at whatever level. As HR personnel, you are concerned with building relationships with employees and management. The human resources department, as the name implies, is created for the human resources, which are the employees, and to take care of your employees and understand them, soft skills are a must.

In addition to knowing what to do as an HR professional, you also need soft skills to support your hard skills to improve the employee experience and create an inclusive and safe workplace.

You have to develop strategies and policies to support organizational goals and relay your policies to both employees and management, and that requires soft skills to execute them. No organization is 100% without conflict, which may occur between employees or between employees and management. To handle such conflict, an HR professional will need to display their soft skills to resolve it.

Important soft skills for HR professionals

Communication skills

This is one of the top-notch soft skills every HR professional must possess. If you are considering a career in HR, ensure you are adept at communication. HR entails constant communication with people, whether you are explaining your company’s policies, goals, and mission to employees, entertaining employee queries, or presenting reports to the company’s stakeholders and top management.

A good communicator will be viewed as competent, professional, and trustworthy. One of the key aspects of communication is active listening. As an HR professional, you shouldn’t be the one always talking; you need to give a listening ear to others, understand their perspective, and offer solutions. Listening carefully to your employee’s speech will help identify standpoints and effect better measures to create a conducive environment for them.

Communication doesn’t entail just talking; it also involves writing. Key duties that call for writing include typing emails, memos, weekly or monthly reports, and creating policies that border on the employees and the company. Well-written write-ups are free of errors and communicate the intent. 

To develop your communication skills,

·         You can read books on copywriting,

·         Use proofreading tools such as Grammarly to detect errors.

·         Join the Toastmasters Club to boost your public speaking skills.


Organization is a vital soft skill that every HR professional must possess. Though the HR department manages recruitment, training, and development, they also conduct administrative tasks such as creating, sorting, storing, and maintaining employees’ records. In general, HR staff are constantly engaged in one activity or another; good calendar management helps to keep them on schedule. Also, unplanned schedules are inevitable; those with a great ability to manage time effectively when faced with such challenges do better than those with poor time management.

To develop organizational skills,

·         Make use of Google Calendar to create events and keep up with your schedules

·         Learn to make use of human resources tools to keep track of applicants and store records of employees.

·         Prioritize your daily tasks with tools like to-do lists, Evernote, and others

·         Practice time management by allocating time to each task and monitoring how you use your time

Decision making 

HR professionals are bound to make decisions that should align with the company’s goals and objectives. They make vital decisions when recruiting the best candidates to take up a particular role; they need to analyze if the person will be a good fit for the company or not. They scrutinize the person by conducting security checks before making a final decision. This skill also becomes necessary in determining the best time to implement policies that have an overall effect on the cultural ambiance of the organization. They also need this skill to decide whose contract to terminate during downsizing.  

HR people need critical thinking skills to complement their decision-making skills. Without critical thinking, HR professionals may make bad decisions. Moreover, when making decisions, HR professionals should ensure impartiality. They shouldn’t make decisions that favor one side of the spectrum while the other side suffers; the decisions must be balanced and clearly favor everyone.

To develop your decision-making skills 

·         Create a list of decisions you can think of

·         Weigh the pros and cons of each of the choices you have drafted

·         Set deadlines for making decisions

·         Learn from your decision-making experience


Every HR professional serves as a coach for employees. Your coaching skills will come into effect when training and developing your employees on the best practices and skills they need to excel in their line of function. As a coach, you will need to assess your employee’s skill deficits by performing skill assessments. Give advice to employees when they seek it or when you feel their performance is below optimum. In addition to giving advice, help them come to concrete conclusions by giving them puzzles and questions to explain. Also, coaching skills can help you train new employees to learn new skills and adjust to the new cultural environment, thereby successfully onboarding them.

You can become a better coach by

·         Taking advanced courses on coaching and mentoring

·         Reflecting on your coaching style and asking senior members for suggestions and feedback

·         Consider using different learning tools and styles by incorporating visuals and frameworks.

·         Ask for trainee feedback and build on them 

Conflict resolution

It’s safe to say that conflicts are inevitable in the workplace. A dispute may arise between the employees and the managers or among the employees. If such disputes persist, they may lead to disruptions in the workplace and affect the overall employee experience. In such a scenario, an HR person is expected to diffuse the conflict and bring the opposing parties to a common agreement.

To successfully handle conflicts, HR professionals need to understand the underlying cause of the conflict, give room to both parties to express their feelings, find solutions to the conflicting needs, and implement the solutions.


Displaying empathy toward people puts you in a position of trust and attracts people to you. This skill gives you the innate ability to feel and understand employee’s experiences and feelings. Empathy is what moves an HR professional to ensure that employee relationships and experiences are their top priority, and it also influences the management’s perception of employees as assets of the organization rather than dispensable liabilities.

An HR professional can show empathy by asking the employees simple questions like, How is work?, How are they doing?, and How do they cope with stress at work?  What are their major challenges? Listen actively to them, and always be there to mentor or guide them.   


The HR office is sensitive. There is sensitive information that HR people come across every day. It may be workers coming to you to disclose their feelings regarding a particular manager, out-of-work-related matters like health issues or mental illnesses, or sexual harassment. How this delicate information is kept from public knowledge is a skill every HR professional must possess.

HR professionals should ensure that every piece of information that comes to their table remains confidential and that no other person is privy to it. Being discretionary builds employee trust and maintains a healthy workplace relationship, as employees feel free to share their concerns with you because they are assured their privacy is maintained.


HR professionals will always encounter the simplest problems that require their attention. This demands their problem-solving ability to analyze the problems and quickly provide solutions.

Solving problems entails being capable of critical thinking—out-of-the-box thinking rather than one-dimensional thinking—being creative, and having a strategic quality.


Negotiation is a versatile soft skill every HR professional must have. Skillful negotiation tactics are vital during interviews, as HR people have to negotiate salary structures with candidates. With their negotiation skills, they will be able to convince the individual to accept their packages and work with them.  

This skill is not only applicable during interviews; you can also negotiate wages and salary structures with employees who are agitating for a pay increase, that is within the company’s budget. And in resolving conflicts between disagreeing parties, a well-rounded negotiator should be able to create a win-win situation for everyone.


The HR field is always an evolving landscape, and keeping up requires adaptability. As an HR professional, you must be constantly willing to learn new skills and laws if you want to grow. Adaptability will help you stay composed during major industrial disruptions like those witnessed in the COVID-19 era. HR professionals had to adjust the workstation from the office entirely to a remote setting. In view of uncertainty, they should always be ready to adapt to new changes.

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