Building critical skills and competencies tops the list of priorities for HR leaders along with prioritising change management and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives for the fourth consecutive year, according to a study by Gartner.
As organisations approach the future of work, the convergence of HR and technology is anticipated to act as a catalyst for the future of workplace transformation. Additionally, by focusing on developing a variety of skill sets, HR professionals will be better positioned to support organisational objectives and growth.
Essential HR skills in demand for the future
The evolution of technology and the acceleration of digital transformation have paved the way for increased technology integration in human resource operations. Apart from AI and machine learning, people analytics and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) training are recent developments that are being adopted by HR functions.
People Analytics - People analytics have grown in importance for HR professionals. Data-driven decision-making skills with respect to employee management are now central to HR operations. People analytics affect business outcomes as they help provide actionable insights for matters related to talent management, workforce processes, and learning and development, among others.
AR and VR-led learning initiatives - The use of AR and VR in HR processes is gradually gaining importance due to the technology’s impressive potential in hiring, onboarding, training and virtual workspaces. HR can use AR and VR to make immersive and interactive training sessions for employees. Furthermore, VR is a viable option for training situations when safety issues or other factors make it difficult to generate the level of realism necessary for effective learning.
Metaverse – HR in the metaverse is a concept that may emerge in the coming years. As the metaverse gradually enters the HR sphere, a new environment for communication and interaction could emerge and have an impact on HR professionals. The metaverse could improve intra-company interactions across various business units as well as create new learning opportunities for employees.
Change Management - As organisations continuously evolve, change management is a crucial skill to have in the HR toolkit. With the shift to a hybrid work model, digitalization, the need for upskilling and reskilling of people, or the use of metaverse in the workplace, HR professionals will need to help employees navigate change. They will also need to deal with resistance, offer training on new procedures and/or technologies, and explain why the change is necessary along with the change process itself.
What organisations are doing to enhance HR skills
The skill changes brought about by the pandemic resulted in four major trends: digital skills in nondigital occupations, soft skills in digital occupations, visual communication and social media skills.
Although technology and the pandemic have been the main driving forces behind these four trends, digitisation and other advancements have enabled new ways of working, improved employee collaboration and engagement, and highlighted the importance of soft skills, visual communications and social media skills.
As HR professionals play a key role in implementing change and assisting employees with adapting to changes, organisations are concentrating on enhancing their performance through the creation of efficient training programs. Additionally, focusing on organisational communication, more frequent employee feedback, creation of a shared corporate vision, and use of available technologies are the various ways organisations are enhancing HR skills.
Furthermore, upskilling is no longer a buzzword and a "nice to have" benefit; it is now critical to an organisation’s success as it enables businesses to evolve.
Upskilling via learning and development (L&D) programs is commonly used in many industries. Some organisations provide online courses in addition to in-person lectures and seminars, while others provide peer coaching and an 'upskill track' on their learning management system (LMS).
Aside from L&D, organisations can implement strategies such as mentoring, job rotation, job enlargement and job enrichment, as well as hiring external experts/specialists to equip HR personnel with the necessary skills and competencies for the future.
Why developing future-ready skills is more important than ever
The way we work and conduct business has changed drastically since the outbreak of the pandemic. HR will continue to be at the forefront of business evolution in the years ahead. Enhanced HR skills will lead to facilitation of better career experiences and a supportive workplace focused on development and talent retention. It will also help in building an inclusive and purpose-driven organisation.
Hence, organisations need to help empower HR with updated skills which will play a key role in developing a future-ready workforce. HR’s role in facilitating business transformation has accelerated, making it an enabler of change for operations in the new normal. With the support of new technologies, HR professionals have an opportunity to upskill themselves with digital knowledge that will help foster change across organisational functions.