The 8 Most Essential Skills in 2024

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HR teams play a significant role in the operations of businesses across the globe which require them to have their own unique set of skills to help them succeed in their career.

From resolving employee disputes to recruiting new talent and handling confidential data, HR professionals’ tasks can vary greatly from one day to another, and their skills should allow them to switch between their obligations with ease. 

If you’re an aspiring HR professional looking to develop your skills and further your career, here we review  8 essential skills to help set you apart and navigate your role with ease in 2024. 

1) Organisational acumen 

HR professionals act as liaisons between employees, heads of departments, CEOs and the board, while simultaneously being  responsible for managing tasks to which different people contribute. This means being organised is a vital skill you  must develop if you want to succeed in your role as an HR professional.

On one hand, you  must ensure that documents are effectively filed, including employment agreements and personal data. On the other hand, you’ll also be in charge of managing your  own calendar. 

That said,  having good organisational skills enables HR professionals to remain productive and meet their deadlines. However, being organised encapsulates many different aspects, including:

  • Time Management: Some HR tasks such as managing payroll and drafting employee contracts can prove to be time-consuming, so it’s essential to effectively manage your time and workload to meet deadlines without falling behind. 
  • Records Management: Creating, storing and updating company records and employee documents is usually done daily. Being organised allows you to retrieve documents quickly while making sure they’re safely stored.
  • Calendar Management: Keeping on top of your calendar and daily tasks is vital to remain productive while managing your other tasks, which may include meetings, training, interviews and events.

2) Effective communication 

One of the most important soft skills to develop, for anyone considering a career in HR, is communication. HR professionals are often required to conduct interviews, give presentations, resolve conflicts, and be able to explain company policies to employees. 

A qualified HR professional requires strong written and verbal communication skills to effectively execute daily tasks while also adhering to organisational standards and guidelines. These communication skills include:

  • Clear Writing: Vital for drafting effective company policies and other pieces for communication. Your writing should be clear and to the point.
  • Critical Listening: HR managers are expected to be good listeners as you’re  sometimes required to resolve conflicts and have frank discussions with staff, gauging their point of view and presenting a fair and appropriate solution. This is important when communicating with employees about their workplace needs, what’s lacking, and their concerns. 
  • Conflict Management: This could encompass any situation that may be deemed uncomfortable, for example, exit interviews, salary negotiations, grievances and employee disputes. When handled with grace, you’ll help maintain balance in the company.

As an HR professional you must also be aware of how to approach and speak to employees with different levels of authority and influence. This skill allows you to connect with many types of employees in a positive, yet professional way. 

3) Flexibility & adaptability

Without a doubt, two of the most critical skills every HR professional  will need are flexibility and adaptability. Remaining flexible is typically more immediate and based on the situation in front of you, whereas adaptability is about planning ahead and being aware of potential changes within the organisation. 

Oftentimes, it’s widely appreciated that structure can help a business run smoothly, however, realistically there will be many things that arise unexpectedly and that are out of your control. It’s essential though that as an HR professional, who is responsible for an entire company’s personnel, to remain flexible in such instances.

Whether it involves an employee abruptly quitting their job or a business partner suddenly changing their policies, unpredictable circumstances can shake up the daily agenda of HR teams. 

More so than ever, with the changing landscape of many businesses across the world, HR professionals should display adaptability and handle anything with finesse.

4) Confidentiality 

HR teams regularly handle sensitive and confidential information, whether that’s employee private records, partner contracts or even something as simple as being informed of employee disputes and complaints. 

Due to this variety of delicate information, you must deal with such information or data with sensitivity and discretion, building trust between you and the other party, ensuring you remain reliable and, most importantly, that you respect their privacy.

Employees tend to raise many complaints or disagreements they may have with their managers or other employees to the HR manager. It’s imperative, therefore, that as an HR professional, you inspire trust, in order for employees to feel secure to have an open and honest conversation, without fearing that it may affect their employment status. This also helps build employee trust towards the organisation as a whole, as well as promoting a positive company culture. 

5) Recruitment & onboarding

In all companies, HR teams have a hand in the recruitment and onboarding of new staff members, so people professionals must understand how to do so effectively.

With a 13.8% voluntary turnover, according to Cendex’s Labour Turnover Rates 2023 report, it’s evident that “the labour market has not stood still over the past year”. Coupled with the high cost of employee turnover, which according to research by Oxford Economics and Unum, the average cost of turnover for an employee with a £25,000 salary is approximately £30,000, it’s no surprise why HR professionals are expected to be skilled recruiters.

This then feeds into onboarding, which refers to the process by which a new hire adjusts to the new job smoothly, both socially and professionally. The more effective and successful the onboarding is, the more likely it is that new hires are properly integrated into the company, are satisfied with their job, and remain in the role for a substantial amount of time. 

6) Tech-Savvy

A big part of an HR professional’s day-to-day tasks relies on digital spreadsheets, visual planning platforms and online databases, so being tech-savvy is a must! 

Gone are the days when HR would draft performance reviews and employee contracts by hand. With the digital shift we’ve experienced in recent years, being IT proficient is a vital requirement for most jobs, especially so for HR professionals who handle vast amounts of sensitive data and confidential documents. 

By employing automation for certain HR processes, HR teams can save precious time they could be utilising on higher-impact tasks instead. 

In fact, the Society of Human Resource Management found that 69% of HR professionals that utilise automation during the hiring process identified that it significantly decreased the time spent on hiring as a whole. This can, in turn, help increase productivity and boost efficiency. 

7) Tactful negotiation

Oftentimes, when disputes arise between employees, each party believes they're right and the other parties involved are wrong. Usually, the truth lies somewhere between the two, so HR professionals must be master negotiators to diffuse the conflict and get the two sides to meet in the middle. 

However, that isn’t the only instance in which HR managers must display their negotiating power. Other situations that warrant negotiations include:

  • An employee threatens to quit unless they receive a raise or an added benefit
  • An employee refuses to work with another member of staff
  • A new employee is trying to negotiate a higher salary than the usual starting rate
  • An employee wants to keep their job but can’t cope with their work load or schedule

In these situations, HR managers’ skills should also embrace negotiating to come up with solutions and compromises that benefit both the employer and employee. 

8) Analytical and data-driven 

People analytics are becoming more and more significant for businesses, as data extracted from analytics platforms can help address key business questions and concerns. According to the Society of Human Resource Management, 71% of HR professionals whose organisation utilises the benefits of people analytics say it’s “essential to their organisation’s HR strategy”. 

Therefore, HR managers must be able to leverage the power of data analytics to make improved, evidence-based decisions that will benefit the company long-term. 

By utilising key metrics such as employee turnover, retention, engagement and absenteeism, data analytics can be employed to:

  • Identify fair pay and incentives,
  • Analyse benefits,
  • Find employees with high potential, and
  • Project the need for future talent.  

Businesses are now, more so than ever, heavily relying on their HR teams to drive change and help reach organisational objectives. This  means there’s no better time to kickstart, advance  or boost your career by gaining the knowledge and essential skills that will undoubtedly help you thrive. 


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