Soft Skills or Tech Skills? Why HR needs both

May 26, 2020 | David Daly 5 Mins read

Soft Skills

It used to be the case that soft skills were the most essential skills needed by HR professionals. Understanding people and their needs, empathy, sympathy, problem-solving and discretion were important soft skills to nurture and develop in HR departments at multinational companies.

These skills still matter and have a strong role to play in company culture in the modern working environment. But these soft skills alone are not enough to meet the new challenges human resources teams are facing, largely due to the digitalization of all the other departments within the company. Technology has moved fast, and HR professionals are required to adapt and include a wide range of technology skill sets in their approach to solutions.

New expectations

HR professionals and recruiters today find themselves interacting with a young workforce who have been raised with a variety of digital skill sets, and they often look to technology in order to resolve any issues they are having. Today’s tech savvy generation live in an instant gratification world, where many apps or technology solutions can provide them with very quick results to problems they encounter on a daily basis. This has created something of an inbuilt expectation that the people they encounter in the working environment will be of a similar mindset and also choose to look a technology as a problem solver in the same way that they do.

In this new digital economy, there are many people who consider technology to be very helpful and have an expectation that resolutions to human problems will also involve a certain amount of technology. This is the way things are right now, so these expectations do prevail, and it has gotten to the point where some people are uncomfortable with solutions that do not involve technology. A mindset has been built up, fueled by the rapid advance of the Internet, which has resulted in the widely held belief that technology can solve the vast majority of problems people are likely to encounter.

The new HR

So, what does all this mean from the point of view of the HR professional? First of all, it means that there needs to be a recognition and acceptance of the reality that digital solutions are hugely influential today. HR professionals need to operate in the same world as employees, a world where most team members are very digitally engaged. This means that HR teams now need to be digitally aware as part of their job and those who are not, need to take steps to develop their technical skills in this area. Failure to do so may result in an inability to connect with those they are trying to help.

It might be a bit dramatic to suggest that the modern HR professional needs to sit somewhere between a HR specialist and an IT specialist, but the truth is- some happy medium between the two is required to satisfy the growing need for a mix of hard and soft skills. It is very unlikely that somebody will enter a HR career with this particular blend of skill sets, instead it is far more likely that the technology and digital skills will need to be nurtured and developed over a period of years. HR managers who are focused on what is happening in the digital economy will be factoring this into their digital training plans.

Digital Training and Development

Achieving the right balance between hard and soft skills is important, but many HR departments are finding that there is no balance at present due to an absence of digital skills. The talented people-person with great communication skills may not need to develop into a full blown IT specialist but they will need a level of digital or technical skills that can help them deal with a range of issues they are likely to face which require digital knowledge.

Training and development may turn out to be the correct solution here- HR departments in general are becoming more digitized and many are undergoing important digital transformations in order to keep pace with advances in other departments. HR professionals are beginning to learn new digital skills because their IT infrastructure has changed.

They also need to learn additional digital skills because the make-up of their global workforce has changed; new recruits are often savvy, digitally minded people with a built-in set of expectations when it comes to resolving challenges. So, the HR professional may also need regular training and development courses to help them deal effectively with employees who approach things with a different mindset, a mindset that has been heavily influenced by the technology at their disposal over the last five to ten years.

A framework for the future

Introducing more digital skills to HR professional has many benefits to the HR Department but it is really about putting in place a framework for the future. It is about ensuring that there is a framework in place to equip HR professionals with the digital skills they need to meet the demands of a rapidly changing digital landscape, and also to meet the expectations of current and future employees who they will be expected to help.

The future of HR might be a series of interconnected technology systems that talk to each other and send data to each other. Digital skills will be needed to help navigate the features of these systems. Other digital skills may be required to assist employees with access to data. These may be simple things like employee self-service apps that allow a workforce to access their payroll, tax and personal information via a mobile telephone app.

What HR managers need to do right now is assess current and future needs by asking important questions:

  • What new systems are likely to be on boarded in the future? Will these systems integrate with global payroll and ERP? Are the currents digital skill levels of the team capable of operating in such systems?
  • What level of investment and what kind of support or buy-in is needed from other departments in the multinational that HR deal with on a regular basis?
  • What can be done today to develop a solid business case for either technology development or a new training and development program?
  • What needs to be done to ensure that the correct balance is achieved between important soft skills like empathy and understanding- and digital skills, like scheduling or customizing important data driven reports in a cloud-based environment?


Payslip and HR

At Payslip, we have been advocating for years that global payroll and HR departments need interconnected software to improve operational efficiency. Our platform integrates smoothly with the vast majority of HR systems and is designed to accommodate the smooth flow of crucial business data between global payroll and HR. Our system enables HR departments to access data and global reporting that can provide them with essential business intelligence along with predictive analytics.



Our cloud- based platform with digital dashboards, helps global payroll teams at multinationals to partner with HR departments instead of operating as a separate business function. This kind of digital partnership helps both departments work together for the wider good, while becoming important strategic partners in the achievement of the wider goals of the business.

If you are a HR professional, who has often wondered how your team can work more efficiently with a global payroll function in your company, talk to us today about a software integration. Connecting to the Payslip platform, could be the first important step you make on the road to a very important HR digital transformation.


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Using Payslip, we can manage all our payrolls across nine in-country vendors on one platform. When the global Covid-19 pandemic arose, it was not an issue from a payroll perspective, and critically getting everyone paid. The Payslip platform enabled continuity for our international payroll service including the fast and seamless implementation of the Payslip Employment Self Service during this time.

Colin Smith

Payroll Manager, LogMeIn

With business and employee growth rates of above 50%, we rely on our vendors to deliver on time, every time. Payslip’s workflow automation, enables Phorest to manage our payroll provider process – data driven, real time and transparent. Payslip saves us time so we can focus on our business growth.

Ana Kelly

International Payroll Manager, Phorest