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Finding the right employees for your business

Date posted:  1/15/15 07:15:00 AM Getting the most of your employees can be the difference between a successful and struggling business.

Throughout the interview and application process, a company will look for two skill sets in potential employees: hard skills and soft skills.

Hard skills are abilities more easily quantified, while soft skills tend to be of the intangible variety. Examples of hard skills include computer programming, machine operation, typing speed, a degree or background in a particular field or proficiency in a foreign language.

Soft skills, meanwhile, focus on teamwork, communication, patience and motivation. But exactly what kind of soft skills are companies looking for?

Top soft skills wanted
According to CareerBuilder, the top two soft skills that managers want to see include a strong work ethic and dependability. Nearly three-fourths of HR managers told CareerBuilder they are looking for employees with those qualities.

Other soft skills that are on the forefront for HR departments include a positive attitude (72 percent), self-motivation (66 percent) and a team-oriented mind frame (60 percent). Rounding out the top 10 were being organized (57 percent), working well under pressure (57 percent), being an effective communicator (56 percent), flexibility(51 percent) and confidence (46 percent).

Christa Degnan Manning, senior vice president of research at HfS Research, told Forbes that companies that use an omni-channel employee experience to place a focus on soft skills tend to have more success.

"Self-service has been overdone and employees are frustrated with it," she said. "You need mobile, social and chat in a centralized environment that provides shared services supporting the worldwide workforce, engagement with all generations of workers in the way that they want."

The importance of employee engagement

While employers look for both hard and soft skills in a prospective worker, the majority of people interviewing or working for a company want to be engaged in the workplace.

According to Forbes, increasing employee engagement can help retention rates, which can be crucial to a business' success. In Forbes' 2014 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends research, nearly four out of five business leaders called employee retention and engagement "urgent" or "important."

Josh Bersin, founder of Bersin by Deloitte, claimed that when he talks to human resource leaders, retention issues are usually among the topics of conversation.

"Companies are struggling to engage, attract, retain, and lead younger people," Bersin said. "They don't have the leadership programs to drive the dynamic level of leadership that young people want. Sophisticated HR teams know that they have to work closely with top leadership to create new models of engagement in the new world of work."

Engagement trends to consider
Bersin said companies often closely watch their rating on Glassdoor, a site featuring employee reviews of a company. He added that businesses across the globe are trying to build passionate teams of employees, so looking at employee reviews of their companies is a surefire way to see where to improve.

Lisa Rowan, an industry analyst and vice president of HR, Talent and Learning Strategies at IDC, told Forbes that some of the main obstacles for employers include a geographically separated workforce. With more people working remotely, it's harder to get a feel for employees not in the same room.

"Gone are the days when 95 percent of the workforce went into the office and were full or part-time employees," Rowan said. "People are working remotely around the globe, you have freelancers and contractors. You may have partners' employees working next to your own employees. You can't gather everyone around the water cooler, yet HR still needs to meet the needs of the business."