Requisite or minimum qualifications for most jobs include functional expertise or job knowledge, core competencies and professional attributes. However, the very nature of human resources work, both strategic and functional, requires that professionals in this area have certain cognitive skills that enable the performance of their job duties. A cursory review of any number of human resources job postings reveals that employers looking for qualified human resources staff value basic cognitive skills, such as language, memory, logic and reasoning.
In the human resources field, functional expertise includes knowledge of labor and employment laws, recruitment and selection procedures, workplace investigation steps and processes for employee benefit administration. Core competencies include written and verbal communication skills as well as decision-making, analytical and critical thinking capabilities. Professional characteristics such as commitment, integrity, candor and other subjective qualities are attributes that ultimately determine whether there’s a good fit between the candidate and workplace.
Cognitive Skills for HR
Cognitive skills are mental capabilities, such as perception and reasoning, that are necessary to process information and acquire knowledge. Intuition is another cognitive skill which, for human resources staff, may be one of the most useful. Intuitiveness is a cognitive skill that determines the potential and quality of interpersonal relationships. It’s a cognitive skill that helps human resources staff recognize attributes, traits and characteristics in applicants, candidates and employees that create a philosophical fit within the organization. Intuition is sometimes used to justify the selection of prospective employees over other candidates based on how their professional styles mesh with the workplace culture.
Logic and Reasoning for Employee Relations
Logic and reasoning are essential cognitive skills, particularly for human resources staff in the employee relations discipline of this field. Employee relations specialists are typically responsible for conducting workplace investigations, which includes interviewing employees and witnesses, researching case law and determining the application of workplace policies. Basic cognitive skills such as logic and reasoning, as well as memory and recall, are mandatory for successfully resolving workplace issues. Investigating workplace issues requires logic in assessing the credibility of witnesses and reasoning to determine the appropriate application of workplace policy, case law and legal bases. Reasoning is also helpful in negotiations for resolving or mediating differences concerning workplace complaints.
HR Staff and Multitasking
Attention, whether sustained for short or long periods or divided by competing demands, is another cognitive skill that benefits human resources staff. For example, when employees have questions about working conditions or pay, they don’t always make an appointment or wait until the human resources staff member has set aside time for specifically addressing their workplace issues. In workplaces where employees feel comfortable in freely visiting the human resources department, the HR staff must often juggle the demands of several employees at one time. Well-developed cognitive skills related to attention span improve an HR employee’s ability to work on one project or task for sustained periods as well as handle disruptions or pressures to manage more than one task simultaneously, usually referred to as multitasking.
HR Strategic Planning
Human resources managers and directors are responsible for strategic HR planning that improves the sustainability of organizational success and employee engagement. As lofty as these goals might appear, they are easily attainable with the expertise of a human resources leader who has highly developed cognitive skills. Highly developed cognitive skills enable the visualization of concepts, such as the concept of employee engagement, and the organization of functional or tactical processes to achieve business goals. Conceptualizing an idea, assigning structure to the concept as it would appear in the workplace and determining what functional tasks transform it from concept to reality requires cognitive skills such as visualization, perception and logic.