13 Minutes of reading

HR skills: the new challenges of human resources

The HR area has seen some profound shifts in recent years. Human resources professionals have been on the front line since the first months of the health crisis, and their central role within organisations is sure to continue. The 2019 Gartner Performance Management Benchmarking Survey reported that 81% of HR managers report having made changes to performance management.


The data regarding performance management foresees that numeric and qualitative labels will soon be forgotten by some HR managers. Others think about eliminating the idea of grading and ranking employees, wondering if that will bring better performance results for both the employees and the company.

HR departments are indeed seeing crucial challenges confirmed (for some) and emerging (for others).


The pandemic meant they had to deal with lockdowns, restrictions and their consequences: the implementation of a new approach to work organisation (remote working, hybrid work). These changes are long term and bring new challenges to human resources staff.


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Employees are increasingly looking for meaning but also for better pay. The phenomenon of the "great resignation", which originated in the United States, is spreading to France. In March 2022, 4.5 million people quit their jobs, up by 152,000 compared to February.
In 2021, more than 47 million workers quit their jobs, up from the record high of 42 million in 2019.


HR departments therefore have the task of re-engaging employees in order to retain them, such as by training them. In addition, successful onboarding processes are proving crucial to ensure that employees are effectively integrated into the company. Finally, on the issue of salaries, HR managers must be able to negotiate.


All of this requires a set of key skills, which Rise Up will highlight for you now.


What are the most strategic HR skills?


The HR competency grid is constantly expanding. Focus on strategic skills in the post-Covid era.


Recruitment: identifying talent to tackle the skills shortage


Sourcing using all possible digital recruitment channels

There is no shortage of digital tools for identifying talent: professional social networks and online CV portals, connected platforms, smartphone applications and sourcing software. HR staff must master them in order to digitalise the entire recruitment process. In other words, knowing how to recruit online is one of the essential skills for the HR professionals in 2022.


Recommending a candidate from your network

Co-optation is an avenue that should not be overlooked. This is a recruitment technique based on recommendation.   An employee or a person from outside the company recommends a professional from their network for a position to be filled. Co-optation is particularly relevant to sectors affected by a shortage of candidates. For HR, this means being able to set up cooptation campaigns, which is another skill to develop.


Using a recruitment agency

Delegating the recruitment process to a specialised firm has several advantages and is a popular solution for both large groups and SMEs. Consultants with strong HR expertise make sure the best profiles are found and recruited. Using a headhunter is particularly effective for high-level positions and/or those requiring specialised skills.


The importance of the candidate pool

Building and updating a database of candidates is another key to successful recruitment. The talent pool is a time-saving tool that is essential in any recruitment process. HR professionals should consult it before publishing a job offer, as the ideal profile may be found there!


Recruitment: conducting effective interviews from a distance


If digital tools are indispensable in the sourcing phase, they are also indispensable in the next stage: conducting interviews. Mastering videoconferencing software is of course essential. It is also important to create a bond and make the applicant feel comfortable despite the physical distance. Engaging in an informal discussion and then taking a genuine interest in the candidate in order to identify their strengths and personality are vital to a successful remote job interview.


Work on the company image


Developing the employer brand, i.e., cultivating the organisation's image among candidates, is a prerequisite for the attractiveness of the company and the retention of talent. Defining the brand platform is the key to creating a positive image that conveys the company's values, commitments and vision.


Project management (HR)


Project management is one of the skills to be strengthened in the post-Covid era. The tasks of HR departments are expanding to include managing more complex projects than before. These are both strategic and operational projects, of varying duration, which integrate new dimensions: work flexibility, employee volatility, employee well-being, ecological issues. In addition, it is important to work on transferable skills, when it comes to management teams.


Promote the development of employees' skills


Retaining talent is a crucial issue today. Ensuring the commitment of employees is a major objective assigned to human resources departments. This involves providing relevant training schemes, ensuring effective upskilling, as well as relevant development for employees.


Professional training encompasses upskilling, reskilling  and cross-skilling:


  • Upskilling provides the employee with real expertise in their job;
  • Reskilling allows the employee to maintain their employability and maybe even to change jobs;
  • Cross-skilling, on the other hand, leads the employee to extend their scope of skills in order to be more versatile and flexible.


In order to carry out their tasks in terms of training and to ensure the re-engagement of employees, human resources professionals must know how to:

  • Establish and update a skills reference framework, an essential document that provides a complete and synthetic overview of all the professional skills needed by the company to be successful.
  • Draw up a skills development plan, in order to list all the training actions put in place for employees.

Knowing how to negotiate


No, the art of negotiation is not just a sales skill! Controlling the wage bill in a context of inflation and demands for increases from employees requires great negotiation skills. For this it is important to develop good interpersonal skills. Emotional and relational intelligence, active listening skills, conflict management: these are the three major skills to be developed!


Two people shaking hands


Prevention of psychosocial risks (PSR)


The prevention of psycho-social risks (PSR) and, more broadly, the quality of work life. As we have said, some employees are ready to leave their jobs if their well-being at work is not covered. Employee disengagement is a reality and requires immediate solutions from HR. In addition, the isolation and disruption of normal working patterns that lockdown has caused has led to an increase in work-related stress, another issue that HR teams must address.


What actions should be taken? Three measures stand out:


  • Identify employees in psychological distress, whether they are affected by depression, anxiety, burnout, etc.
  • Raise awareness of well-being at work among all employees
  • One solution which is subject to debate is to employ a chief happiness officer (CHO). These "happiness managers", who have emerged in Silicon Valley start-ups, seem to be praised as much as they are criticised. Some are quick to portray them as corporate GOs, calling them "bullshit jobs", while others praise them. A study conducted by Andrew Oswald, Eugenio Proto, and Daniel Sgroi at the University of Warwick expose how productivity increases on happy employees by an average of 12%, which would mean a significant general increase of 3% in regard to GDP and economic growth.

Legal knowledge


Legal knowledge is essential in several areas.


Firstly, the legal rules on personal data protection and confidentiality and the respect of privacy must be assimilated. It is no longer possible, for example, to ignore the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), which applies to any European organisation processing personal data.


Secondly, HR staff must be familiar with the legal framework surrounding the recruitment of trainees and sandwich course candidates.


Thirdly, knowledge of the labour code is of course one of the essential skills of the human resources professional.


There are therefore many HR skills to include on a CV. For existing employees, the HR skills assessment is a necessary step for check the match between actual skills and the requirements that have arisen over the last two years.


What are the skills of a HR Manager?


Recruiter looking at a CV on a tablet in an interview

HR project management


While project management concerns all human resources professionals, the manager is specifically responsible for steering and particularly for change management. Supporting teams towards the success of HR projects (e.g., QWL) is one of his or her essential duties.


Definition of strategic priorities


It is also responsible for defining the HR strategy. What strategic directions should be taken to ensure human capital performance and enable the company to achieve its objectives? Answering this question helps create short- and long-term action plans.


Recruitment strategy


With a shortage of candidates, a "war for talent" and demanding applicants, recruitment is an increasingly complex task. Being able to define an effective strategy in advance is therefore crucial, and this is the role of the HR manager.


Training strategy


As we have seen, providing employees with a rich training experience that fully meets their expectations is paramount. The HR manager plays the role of a conductor. They are responsible for steering and ensuring that key tools are used correctly:


  • Forward-looking management of employment and skills, which enables the needs to be anticipated and the jobs, workforce and skills to be harmonised according to the company strategy.
  • HR skills repository
  • Skills development plan

Branding strategy


Another necessary skill for the HR manager is the ability to develop an employer brand strategy. This is a matter of marketing and communication, since it is a question of spreading an attractive and "seductive" company image.


Prevention of PSR


As we have already mentioned, the prevention of psycho-social risks is of major importance today. At the forefront is the HR manager, who must ensure that working conditions, internal organisation and labour relations are conducive to the development of employees.


QWL strategy and well-being at work


More broadly, developing a strategy that promotes quality of work life and employee well-being is now a priority. Ensuring a healthy and stimulating work environment will go a long way in retaining employees and improving the company's results.


What are the skills of a HR Assistant?


While the HR manager positions himself as a strategist, the HR assistant's role is essentially operational, working in close proximity to employees and job applicants.


Administrative skills


The first HR skill on the CV of a human resources assistant is personnel administration. They have numerous responsibilities: management of employment contracts, payroll, sick leave and social security contributions.


Recruitment: several operational skills required


The skills of the HR assistant naturally extend to the recruitment process. They are responsible for  operational tasks such as: 


  • Writing job offers
  • Posting adverts on the various websites and distribution channels
  • Pre-selecting CVs
  • Conducting the first interviews, both by telephone and by video conference, such as by Zoom.

Mastering digital tools and knowing how to conduct a remote job interview are therefore essential skills.


Finally, the HR assistant is involved in the onboarding phase by welcoming new employees.


Employee training: participation in the skills development plan


As far as professional training is concerned, the HR assistant supports the management. In particular, he or she is responsible for identifying all the training initiatives that the company wishes to implement.


Internal coordination: the indispensable role of the HR Assistant


Their human resources skills also cover the field of internal coordination. The HR Assistant participates in actions aimed at improving the employee experience and teamwork. They are involved in the organisation of team buildings and other corporate events designed to bolster employee well-being, cohesion and team spirit.


How can we train in HR skills?


To respond to the upheavals in the world of work and employee expectations in the post-Covid era, training in HR skills is essential. As such, Rise Up offers companies and their employees a comprehensive off-the-shelf training catalogue. Designed with specialised partners, it is based on innovative teaching methods and provides concrete solutions to the problems encountered by companies.


This gives HR professionals access to engaging content, perfectly targeted to their needs. Here are a few examples of training courses:


  • GDPR (3 training courses available)
  • Project management (12 training courses available)
  • Change management
  • Safety in the workplace


In addition to its range of off-the-shelf content, Rise Up helps organisations to set up blended learning systems (a hybrid formula combining face-to-face sessions and distance learning), which are particularly relevant to improving HR skills.


Finally, peer-to-peer learning should be encouraged within teams. Knowledge is acquired through collaboration and the exchange of expertise. Valuing knowledge and know-how helps to create healthy competition and a learning culture. This should not only concern the human resources teams. It is in the interest of the company as a whole to develop a learning culture.


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