Leading people

HR leaders today need these 4 skills to thrive

Do you consider yourself an HR expert?

We asked 500 HR leaders from Australia and across the globe how they’d rank their expertise. The results published in our report – The changing face of HR – reveal fewer than one in three rank themselves as an HR expert.

This lack of confidence is surprising until you examine the changing expectations of HR leaders. The role now demands new skill sets like people analytics, behavioural sciences, and employer branding. HR leaders must now wear many hats, which often leaves them feeling like they’re wearing none well enough.

New HR skills are required

Our research shows 86% of HR leaders think the HR Director role will be unrecognisable in 10 years. Many see tech-savviness, creativity, and people analytics skills as the next wave of required skills.

More strategic opportunities for HR leaders

This change in the HR Director role is because companies are prioritising employees even more. They understand the value of attracting and retaining a stable workforce, many of which want to work for a progressive employer.

Part of that progression is introducing new work styles like the contingent workforce and gig economy. It also means appeasing the varying expectations of a multi-generational workforce and managing the emergence of digital technology in the workforce and the function.

It’s a lot of added pressure for the role, but also a big opportunity. This new visibility fundamentally transforms a traditionally back-office function into one that offers more strategic value for business growth.

HR leaders who are willing to pick up new skills position themselves to reach new heights in their careers.

Businesses have to work harder to attract and keep top talent within the company, which puts this new, data-savvy breed of HR leaders in high demand.

Here are four skills HR leaders should look to sharpen over the next three years to thrive as the HR function evolves:

1. Communication

It seems like a no-brainer, but 76% of the HR leaders we surveyed said they think better communication skills will be the most important over the next three years. Soft skills like listening, sharing, collaborating, showing empathy, and other interpersonal skills are high priority.

2. People analytics

People analytics is a data-driven, goal-focused approach to managing the workforce. It this approach, HR leaders use data to make decisions about their people processes, functions, challenges and opportunities. Though 76% of the HR leaders we surveyed see this as a critical skill, only 28% feel their current skill level is up to par.

3. Creativity

Employee expectations are evolving to those of a consumer. HR leaders need to get creative in transforming the HR-employee relationship and elevate the employee experience. Of the HR leaders we surveyed, 73% said creativity is a skill that will become more important over time, and 69% said they believe employee expectations of HR are changing. Just 28% rated themselves as expertly creative.

4. Digital skills

More organisations are migrating to digital platforms to streamline their processes, including the HR function. HR leaders who are comfortable using software to manage the tedious parts of people management are in highest demand. Our research shows 73% of HR and people leaders see tech-savviness as a critical skill for the next three years.

HR leaders are business leaders

As HR leaders become savvier with using data to support the function, they create an unprecedented opportunity to showcase HR as not just a necessity, but also a tool. HR and people leaders can demonstrate the value in a people-focused strategy and how it benefits the bottom line.

You can then lead the charge to drive those changes across the business, expanding your contribution to the company and adding more value to your role.

Conclusion: What’s ahead for HR

As HR requirements evolve, its leaders will need to take on different approaches and skills to meet the demand.

Ultimately, the HR Director or CHRO must be a leader of all trades in business and an expert in one: choreographing these new responsibilities with commercial awareness and demonstrative value.

Download the research report, The changing face of HR, for our research findings in full.

Free research report: The changing face of HR

Seismic shifts in the way organisations operate, work, and manage their people are occurring. We surveyed 500+ HR leaders to discover how they are responding.

Uncover insights on how to stay ahead and transform HR from a process focused function to a people driven business.

Download Report