Human resources was once a personnel-based function with administrative and compliance-driven tasks. Despite this, it’s one of the fastest-growing and most in-demand careers today. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of HR managers is projected to grow by 9% from 2014 to 2024.
However, over the years, HR skill sets have transformed to support the company properly, as well as job seekers. It means adopting different roles to assist the evolving economy and new generations of the workforce.
Modern HR, as well as any recruitment agency, calls for technical knowledge to work with and around the latest innovations in recruitment. The following are some of the business and industry expertise that HR professionals would need to develop and sustain to flourish and keep up with the times.
7 Essential Skills Every HR Professional Needs Today
1. Strategic and innovative
Today’s HR personnel can be as proactive as other departments. Since they have a better understanding of the company’s mission and goals, it only makes sense for them to be the first choice as strategic partners.
With their knowledge, they can help differentiate their organization from the competition to drive success and revenue. Something as simple as aligning work and projects with the goals and needs of the business is essential, as long as they keep in mind that it still calls for creativity and innovation.
2. Mastery of HR systems
Much like many organizational processes, different HR functions are now also made easier thanks to various HR information systems (HRIS) that automate the work. However, it’s not enough to know how to use these platforms—they must also know how to analyze and use the data to come up with better decisions, whether it’s for recruitment, planning, or employee engagement.
3. Communication skills
Excellent communication skills, both oral and written, are mandatory for HR professionals, but it’s something that can be learned. Since they are constantly interacting with employees, they pick up points on how to mingle with people.
However, that doesn’t mean that coming into the job unprepared is recommended. Educating themselves early on can be an advantage. When HR is armed with excellent communication skills, issues are straightened out before they escalate, and that’s certainly something they don’t want to learn on the job because the risks are just too high.
Empathy is also part of good communication. More than just learning about which words to use, HR teams must also learn how to critically listen to people and understand the problems that they will soon have to manage. It also helps them build rapport with different kinds of people, allowing them to come across as convincing, caring, and believable.
In addition, communication skills are essential in today’s employment landscape as companies continue to employ people from all walks of life. HR professionals must use their skills to promote a respectful and reciprocal interaction that is all-inclusive, regardless of gender, race, religion, or social status.
As mentioned, personnel can be trained; something as easy as reading books and taking training or courses related to communication like negotiation, persuasion, and critical listening can be useful.
It also helps to improve presentation and public speaking abilities by taking tips from other people or colleagues who have this skill and practicing with a small group and collecting their feedback. Don’t forget to pay attention to body language as well.
4. Conflict management and problem-solving
The workplace is a melting pot of people of various cultures and lifestyles, and while this has advantages, different personalities colliding can also be a catalyst for conflicts. It’s only logical for the HR department to mediate in such instances. And while communication skills (especially empathy) will come in handy, it’s also essential for them to learn how to manage conflicts and resolve issues.
This entails listening carefully to both sides, understanding where their arguments are coming from, and finding solutions respectfully and appropriately. Whether the misunderstanding is between co-workers or with a manager, conflict resolution must be made civilly to maintain a harmonious working environment and high-quality output.
This skill is also useful for HR personnel when approaching potentially uncomfortable situations, like an exit interview. Being graceful and remaining calm when in such instances can help maintain a balanced work environment and will clear your mind before making the right judgment or decision.
5. Ethical approach
High ethical standards are required for every person, more so from HR professionals since they deal with a lot of sensitive and confidential information. They must learn how to respect the privacy of the organization and its people, and not share such details to unauthorized people. Being ethical also means practicing discretion, or only sharing sensitive information to others when it’s appropriate.
Then, there’s also the trustworthiness aspect—being upright enough to call out inappropriate behavior in the office. Employees who speak out the truth must be able to confide with HR without the fear of facing negative consequences, especially with their employment status.
Morals also come into play when creating company policies and drafting the employee handbook. HR must always have fair rules that meet the employees’ needs and is transparent to all, especially with a diverse workforce. They may also learn a thing or two from lawyers and IT professionals when it comes to the proper storage of sensitive data.
6. Develop training programs
As strategic partners, HR has a keen understanding of how their employers can gain a sustainable yet competitive advantage, one of which is by investing in people. At all levels and departments, having the right talents and retaining them for the long run will be beneficial for the company’s goal of increasing productivity and profit.
Investing in people means not only recruiting top talents but also nurturing them through training, thus, the HR staff must be capable of developing training programs. You can use a learning management system to accurately deliver and track your employee training. This will both address the organizational skills gap and the need for people to learn new competencies for career growth.
In addition, departmental managers must be trained to maintain a consistent hiring process and find the right applicant for their own teams.
7. Data and tech savvy
HR teams are used to making decisions based on theoretical and ethical concepts. However, there are some points that could be missed, and this can only be solved by looking and analyzing the numbers. The HR industry has turned to automation for efficiency, accuracy, and better decision-making.
Social media tools can assist in building business networks and looking for potential candidates. With most of the candidates spending their time updating their LinkedIn accounts, HR teams should be at the center of these digital CVs.
Moreover, onboarding new hires, training employees, and streamlining HR processes can all be executed through Talent Management Software (TMS). It will allow you to automate these tasks and shift extra focus on other business goals.
Today’s HR functions encompass recruitment and compensation management. They are now, more than ever, critical in developing a competent workforce through high retention rates and a positive culture. Therefore, the ever-changing professional landscape calls for an HR professional’s full skill set to attract top talents and produce the best results for the company.