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

The top soft skills employers are seeking

Employers want workers to improve in flexibility, adaptability, leadership and strong work ethics, according to a new survey. CompTIA interviewed 1,500 business and tech executives globally for the survey and identified the top soft skills employers want to see their staffers improve by percentage: flexibility/adaptability (48 percent), leadership (44 percent), strong work ethic (41 percent), motivation/initiative (37 percent), innovation/problem-solving (33 percent). “Managers know the company’s growth strategy depends on the ability to hire and retain,” Roberto Torres writes in CIODive. “An ideal workforce delivers value through a mix of soft and hard skills.” He notes that 88 percent of U.S. companies say they outsource tech needs, but 57 percent of senior leaders say they value soft skills more than hard skills. “When evaluating candidates, the top three traits they look for are creativity, persuasion and collaboration,” Torres writes. “The clip at which execs will need to fill roles is poised to increase over time, a trend driven by the evolution in technology, the steady aging out of skilled technologists and expansion of tech adoption.”

When employees drive a diversity campaign, the brand wins

An increasing number of U.S. companies and major brands are celebrating Black History Month this February, but one seems to get most of the accolades from the African-American community—retail giant Target. “Target has a Black History Month collection and it’s lit,” reads the headline from Black Enterprise. In Forbes, Sonia Thompson recounts a group text she received from her mom with a photo of the display she saw at a Target store. “Everyone in the group text loved it. They felt like Target got Black History Month right,” she writes. “I went in and investigated further and was delighted when I got to Target’s corporate page which talked about their plans for celebrating the month.” What’s the secret to Target’s success? The employees. Target worked with its African American Business Council, an employee resource group of more than 1,000 team members to help it with the campaign, including selecting which products should be a part of the collection, as well as coordinating events to help drive awareness, engagement and celebration. “Target’s model of engaging and collaborating with the group they wish to honor during this month-long celebration of cultural heritage and contributions went long way toward helping them get the campaign right,” Thompson writes. “As a result, Target created an experience that helped their customers, including my mother and loved ones feel like they belonged.”

Three ways to drive employee engagement

Keeping your employees engaged is just as important as hiring top talent, yet many employers fall short, Adam Robinson argues. He cites a recent study from Achievers, an employee recognition platform, which found that fewer than one in five employees (19 percent) consider themselves “very engaged.” In this Inc. blog post, Robinson shares three steps to drive employee engagement: 1. Set intentional core values that will become ingrained in your organization on a daily basis. 2. Recognize employees for their work on a weekly and annual basis with awards and compensation. 3. Give employees opportunities to grow and advance their career paths. “Engaged employees are more likely to positively contribute to your overall goals and stay with your team long-term,” Robinson writes. “By having a plan in place to keep employees engaged, you can set your organization up for continued productivity and profitability.”

2020 will see a rise in chatbots in HR

Workplace technology continues to enhance human and machine interaction, and more employers are using chatbots in HR, claims Carol Patton. “Besides offering voice-activated help desks to address HR questions, some companies are using virtual-reality glasses for training or text- and voice-enabled chatbots to provide a positive candidate experience,” she writes in HR Executive. “The ultimate goal is to free HR professionals from performing mundane transactions, enabling them to focus on more human responsibilities like employee coaching.” Emily He, senior vice president of HCM marketing at Oracle, gave Patton other examples of chatbots in HR, such as voice-enabled apps on cell phones that help employees navigate HR directories and platforms that managers can use to enter in real-time feedback on employee performance. “As workplace technology evolves in 2020, I believe it will create more opportunities for employees to focus on innovation and decrease burnout among workers performing mundane tasks,” she told HR Executive. “The work environment will become more positive and allow all of us to be more human.”

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