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9 Skills HR Professionals Need to Succeed in the Digital Age

Source | | Caroline Styr

In a survey of 500 global HR and People leaders, 86% said HR skillsets need to change. According to research from IBM, talent executives are rising to the challenge by planning to double their efforts in the next two years to skill their HR teams in new capabilities, such as design thinking.  

In this article, we explain why the time is now for HR functions and professionals alike to upskill. We look at the impact of automation and augmentation on HR, as well as HR’s role in supporting digital transformation. Then, we answer the burning question – what is the skillset for the future HR professional? We question how willing HR professionals are to evolve and, finally, we offer you the opportunity to see how your skills stack up with the 9 skills needed for the future of HR.

HR needs to move to digital, data-driven skillset, and quickly…

HR professionals currently spend about 86% of their time on average on administrative work within HR. Augmenting and automating this task load is the principal approach to increasing practitioners’ capacity to take on more strategic work.

One report from Capgemini and Faethm concerning the impact of automation on HR suggests that automation and augmentation are likely to impact HR roles in several ways over the next ten years.

Source: Capgemini

So far, the impact of automation has not been evenly felt across HR roles. Roles with more administrative, repetitive elements, such as those in Shared Services, are significantly more likely to be fully automated in ten years than strategic roles, such as HR Business Partners and Center of Excellence roles, that depend on less automatable, “human” skills including consulting and influencing, and stakeholder management. For HR Business Partners and Center of Excellence roles, the division of tasks between humans and machines through augmentation is more likely.

Not only are technological advancements impacting HR, requiring an evolving set of skills to ensure relevance, but HR has a responsibility to impact the digital transformation of the organisation as well.

HR has a significant role to play in guiding the organisation through digital transformation. The function is under pressure from all corners of the organisation to deliver a people strategy fit for the digital age. Over 60% of HR leaders report pressure from the CEO to ensure employees have the skills they need in the future. At the same time, 69% of HR leaders report increased pressure from employees to provide development opportunities that will prepare them for future roles, compared to three years ago.

The pressure has only mounted since the onset of the pandemic as major digital challenges such as remote working escalated, with 59% of C-suite and HR leaders agreeing that human resources is now even more focused on digital transformation than in 2019.

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