Here are the top news stories in talent & organization from this week.

The top five soft skills for the future of work

Soft skills matter a great deal to senior leaders and HR professionals, according to a new survey by LinkedIn. More than half (57 percent) of senior leaders surveyed said they value soft skills more than hard skills. An overwhelming majority (92 percent) of the talent professionals surveyed said soft skills matter as much or more than hard skills, while 80 percent said soft skills are increasingly important to company success. Glenn Leibowitz, in this Inc. blog post, takes a look at the top five soft skills identified in the survey: creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and time management. “It’s not terribly surprising but nonetheless very encouraging to see creativity at the top of LinkedIn’s list of soft skills,” he writes. “Creativity as it is applied at work is not necessarily about art or design, but is more often about devising fresh solutions to old problems, synthesizing heaps of data into actionable insights, and drawing connections and conclusions between seemingly disparate ideas.” For Leibowitz, persuasion is a soft skill that artificial intelligence cannot replace, while collaboration is a non-negotiable skill. “Adaptability is a far more important skill than we like to acknowledge,” he writes. “Time management can make or break your ability to get your job done and have impact.”

How to make employees your best customer advocates

Brands that focus their time, attention and resources on improving the employee experience (EX) ultimately get better results in the customer experience, claims Paul Phillips. “My mantra has long been that people build brands, and brands build businesses,” he writes in a Forbes blog post. Phillips outlines three ways to develop an employee-centric approach to business: 1. Build real relationships with employees by regularly checking in with them and engaging in honest conversations. 2. Consider ways to turn employee feedback into actionable results. 3. Offer the best-in-class digital tools to unleash employee potential instead of dragging it down. “If you aren’t 100 percent confident that your employees are having the best brand experience possible, it’s a good time to evaluate and start taking these essential steps to bring the employee experience to the forefront of your brand,” he writes. “Your customers will thank you for it.”

EX should be a top priority in HR tech purchases

With the growing wealth of platforms, solutions and services that have become available, 2019 is shaping up to be an exciting year for HR tech buyers, argues Kevin Grossman. “Understanding our options is a big part of our challenge—but it is only one part,” he writes in TalentCulture. “Our candidate and employee experiences should be paramount concerns as we weigh our HR tech options.” Grossman believes technology is an integral part of the recruitment process, employee engagement and retention. “The truth is we all want technology to work for us, not disrupt us. We’re consumers and we want seamless experiences and solutions that save us time and energy, not add to the clutter we face,” he writes. “The same goes for employees who depend on the HR technologies we provide them to get their work done.”

A case study in reskilling

The future of work and reskilling the workforce were among the trending topics at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, last month. Business Insider interviewed Accenture’s head of human resources, Ellyn Shook, about our large-scale internal job-retraining program. She explained how Accenture reskilled nearly 300,000 employees over four years by investing about $1 billion annually in training, and using a “Job Buddy” program that assesses which roles will be automated and which adjacent roles can be learned. “I think the thing that organizations really have to start doing, quickly, is move from workforce planning to work planning and really understand what work is going to be done by machines and what work is going to be done by humans, and make sure that you are investing in your people, to understand how to work with the technology,” Shook told BI. “And I think that’s how you’re going to future-proof your workforce.”

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