The utilization of soft skills in retention of professionals: an explanatory sequential mixed methods inquiry
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The human resource profession has transitioned from its early inception of human relations into the proliferating revamped department it has become in the 21st century. Because of this change, organizations have employed resources to guide them through these changes. One such change is that of creating a training and development specialist position that is geared towards addressing employees' training needs. The primary purpose of the study was to examine the utilization of soft skills in the retention of professionals. The study employed an Explanatory Sequential Mixed Methods Design. The researcher collected and analyzed the quantitative data, followed by the collection and analysis of the qualitative data, and concluded by interpreting and synthesizing all results. The study examined the importance and training availability of 10 soft skills, namely, 1) communication, 2) courtesy, 3) flexibility, 4) integrity, 5) interpersonal skills, 6) positive attitude, 7) professionalism, 8) responsibility, 9) team work, and 10) work ethic. For the quantitative component of the study, there were 113 human resource professionals who voluntarily agreed to participate in the study. Data were collected via an online survey questionnaire as well as in person. For the qualitative component of the study, there were seven human resource professionals who agreed to participate in a focus group and share their perspectives regarding the usefulness of soft skills in retaining professional employees. The quantitative results showed that the 10 soft skills were very important as perceived by both the new and experienced professionals; however, there was little to no training available for the overwhelming majority of the skills. Analysis of qualitative data resulted in three themes: Implicit Learning, Formalized Learning, and Continuum Learning. The study results showed that there is little to no training for these important soft skills. Therefore, training and development specialist must create educational opportunities to address the soft skills. There are some skills that can be taught, while others are learned. Although human resource professionals can facilitate these trainings electronically, it is suggested that audience participation, role playing, and interactive training sessions can be more beneficial in mastering the skills.
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF EDUCATION in EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Corpus Christi, Texas, December 2014