Essential communications skills for HR professionals are a major focus for most forward-thinking companies right now, as businesses seek to become more nimble in a changing and unpredictable economy.
After all, your enterprise is only as productive and adaptable as your talent pool, and those fine folks need to be managed and looked after by human resources all stars who know their stuff.
To this end, we thought we’d share a quick rundown of the non-negotiable communication skills we believe every HR professional should have:
1. Clear writing
A focus on solid writing skills may seem super old school, but in a time when digital communication is the preferred mode of interaction for an entire generation, it’s all the more important that your HR team avoid miscommunication at all costs. This goes for everything from informal text messages on in-house platforms like Slack and group chats on WhatsApp, to detailed company policies, employment contracts and more.
Here's a top tip for you:
During interviews, ask your HR candidates to write something by hand. It could be anything - a paragraph on their favourite food, their take on the latest rugby score, etc. This allows the interviewer to see whether they are able to write coherently without the support of a spelling or grammar checker. In fact, there are businesses out there that use graphology (the study of handwriting)as a personnel selection method!
2. Critical listening
The ability to listen clearly and critically helps HR employees to have frank discussions with both staff members and managers, as well as understanding other people’s point of view.
Angie Ontong of the Department of Trade & Industry, who took home the HR Director of the Year Award at the Future of HR 2019 Awards, is a shining example of someone who puts this theory into practice.
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3. Conflict management
Day-to-day conflict management is another essential role of the HR department.
After all, you need to be able to approach somewhat uncomfortable situations like salary negotiations, grievance conversations and exit interviews with a suitable level of sensitivity.
This is something Linda Cronje, HR Manager at Mediclinic, and winner of the HR Manager of the Year Award at the Future of HR 2019 Awards understands all too well. She believes that it’s important to walk the fine line between being approachable and empathetic, and setting firm boundaries for all personnel.
4. Discretion and trustworthiness
The link between psychological empowerment, organisational trust and employee engagement has been proven, and authentic leadership has been identified as one of the key ingredients of a good HR strategy.
In short: HR professionals have to inspire trust and be able to practice discretion in every aspect of their involvement with employees, from grassroots up to top management level. Employees need to know that their personal information is protected at all times, and that they have a safe space to discuss any issues they may have or concerns they need to raise.
5. Giving credit
Finally, one of the most critical communication skills a human resources professional can have is the ability to give credit when credit is due. Whether this is at the hand of an organised employee recognition programme, or simply a straight-forward thank you for a job well done, the premise remains the same - they need to be in tune with their team and able to see when someone brings extra effort to the table.
The benefits of regular, timeous employee recognition and rewards have been proven time, and time again. These findings have been put to good use by companies like Microsoft, Vodacom, Accenture, Tata Consultancy Service, and Unilever, who ranked among the 10 best companies to work for in South Africa in 2020. Criteria like talent strategy, workforce planning, performance management, compensation and benefits, as well as overall company culture were used to determine these clear leaders.
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6. Faultless ethics
Brands like Clover, Mr Price Group Limited, Woolworths, Spar and Coca-Cola understand that reputation is everything, and that it all starts with internal ethics.
After all, HR teams have access to very sensitive corporate information that range from budgets and salaries, to official offers and contract terms. As such, it’s vital that human resources officers keep this information to themselves and remain professional at all times.
Did you know that companies with recognition programs can experience a 31% lower voluntary turnover? Here’s a checklist to help you get your recognition program off your desk and into your workplace. Click the button below 👇 to grab your copy.