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Good to Have – New Age HR Skills

Dr. Anju Kumar


Change in technology, business challenges, market trends and disruption, these are the buzzwords we often hear. Historically the HR function has always dealt with people and in aligning with this, people skills are the most important skills for these professionals. Adding to these most valued skills, People in the HR profession must add certain other skills keeping with the fast paced changes happening with the business environment. Technology has changed the way work gets done. Employees now have access to more information and are therefore more empowered. Business models are changing and HR roles are getting reinvented. Ongoing Transformations have to be managed and HR professionals need to equip themselves with a new set of skills.

Some of the new age skills which are critical to HR professionals are:

Understanding Business

HR needs to actively understand business strategy and dynamically contribute to business. There are various factors which contribute to formulating strategies in business. Market conditions, political implications, the growth of the economy and others.HR should understand and pre-empt the business context. Operational realities have to be thoroughly analysed by HR to directly contribute to business. They should spend time talking with sales, production, quality, and accounting to make sure what is going on in that bigger world. They should also share responsibility for strategic business goals and plans. Apart from knowing their people, they should share and communicate opinions backed by data and analysis.

Digital Skills

Gone are the days when HR professionals evaded technology on the pretext that they were not tech savvy. With the digital revolution, it is imperative for them to accept digitally based mobile technologies and cloud systems to support current business processes. Digital disruption is the broader umbrella under which Digital HR is a part of. Mobile technologies, apps and digitally based processes are disrupting traditional models. Software to cloud systems are going to change the way HR tasks are going to be accomplished. Human Capital management is going to shift to the cloud space to support changing business processes.HR will have to create metrics for outcomes and goal achievement. Also accountability and responsibility will have to be shared by HR for Business plans and objectives.Learn and Grow Every Day through Every Possible Method. That’s the new norm for them. Recommend Programs for People that continuously improve the Business and making productive hours as strategic as possible should be worked on.

Continuous Learning
Professionals in the area of HR must be open to learn. Expertise should be shared with business and support should be given to sourcing of employees, Training & Development or setting key objectives to evaluate their performance for the future period. Value addition is being looked at by orienting with Business. Each functional area of business has HR needs in different perspectives. Now, the HR head should have a comprehensive business orientation about the organization. An open learning attitude with the required skills is a necessity for these professionals.HR expertise should be integrated into the business services. This would be a prerequisite for the new age skills.

Personnel/HR Analytics Skills

The ever changing work environment requires quick decision making.HR Analytics based on the big data available can accelerate the decision making process. Digital disruption has changed the way HR professionals are perceived. Analytics today is an imperative tool to augment decision making in organizations. Effective personal and business related decisions are available with the help of analytics. HR leaders have access to Big Data and with the help of tools, collecting, assessing and interpreting data will lead to changes in the HR landscape. They should learn to turn organization’s strategy into action. This involves, speed, responsiveness, agility, learning capacity, and employee competence. Being competent in analytics is one way of ensuring this.

Soft Skills

Soft skills basically have to do with common sense applied to the ability to deal with people with a positive flexible attitude. They define your relationship with people. Soft skills require a lot of practice. Empathy, public speaking, listening skills, negotiation skills, time management, conflict management and the ability to read people, all these are soft skills leading to interpersonal skills. People with exceptional soft skills create a better workplace. Being flexible and adaptable is another soft skill which these professionals must possess. The members of the HR department should become catalysts and accelerators to build capabilities in organizations and become enablers within the organization. People enable strategies and this is where the HR professionals come into the picture. They have to identify, develop, motivate and retain talent. The challenge is not to surrender to communicating with machines.

Building Trust

The expectations of employees have changed over the years. With all the technological changes happening, accountability, trust and transparency are aspects which have to be reinforced in the minds of employees ever so often. The growing disconnect between leaders and employees is increasing tremendously. The emotional disconnect, which on account of technology has been growing increasingly has to be addressed. Again establishing trust in the minds of employees is the prerogative of HR professionals. Communication and trust/ethical based behaviours are some ways of establishing trust. Integrity and trust must be established in the minds of employees and must get embedded in the culture.


HR professionals need to up skill themselves. A broad skill set is what is being looked into. This will bring organizations into the future and remove biases in the minds of people, regarding the back of house position that HR is languishing in. HR’s role is now limited to only the functional aspects of the profession. Compassion, empathy, emotional intelligence, coaching, mentoring, and addressing diversity and inclusion: all these are vital to both organizational health and success of the HR professional. Along with these skills, the new age skill set would certainly be an added advantage for HR professionals to address future challenges in organizations.
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