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The 12 Most In-Demand Skills for People Professionals in 2023

With flexible working, more of a focus on employee wellbeing and an abundance of other issues making their way to the forefront of countless companies in nearly every industry, it’s no surprise that a career in the people profession is in great demand, as well as the skills that separate a great people professional from an incredible one.

If you’re looking to start or enhance your career in HR or L&D, here are the 12 most in-demand skills you need to excel in the people profession this year.

1. Strong Communication Skills

Together, HR and L&D create the backbone of most organisations, and as such, often act as the critical link between the employee and the business.

Being that on any given day both HR and L&D teams are interacting with a variety of employees for onboarding, training, and upskilling purposes, it’s not hard to believe that a demand for people professionals to possess excellent communication skills will remain, especially as the working world continues to change.

People professionals must also know how to speak to employees at every level, as each individual will have a different level of authority and influence (think newbies versus CEOs), making your ability to connect with every type of employee in a professional and positive manner crucial to your success in your field.

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2. Administrative Expertise

While HR has come a long way from being a stuffy admin role, there is still a large component of administrative work necessary to do your job well, such as onboarding paperwork, payroll, issuing government health updates to staff and so on.

While the people profession is swiftly undergoing a digital transformation with the increasing automation of many HR tasks, we’re not out of the woods just yet!

Similarly, Learning and Development teams also need to have a leg up on administrative tasks to ensure that training is being executed effectively and that tasks such as the maintenance of e-Learning platforms are being handled with care.

3. An Understanding of HRIS & CMS

Speaking of administration, it’s a good idea to brush up on your knowledge of Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) if you plan to be at the top of your game as a people professional.

These systems are among those that are currently transforming HR into a more digital space, helping to monitor and report on critical workplace variables including performance evaluation, rewards and benefits, and - you guessed it - onboarding and payroll.

From the L&D side of things, it’s also important to have an understanding of various Course Management Systems (CMS) if you’re actively involved in training and upskilling employees.

In doing so, you’ll work on your analytical skills and be able to keep tabs on the latest innovations in virtual, blended, and online learning, enabling employees and the business to save time and money by advocating and investing in the best platforms and programmes for staff.

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4. Talent Management Skills

Talent management is best known as the full scope of HR, or rather the processes undertaken to attract, onboard, develop, and maintain employees.

Employees no longer have the patience or need to stay with companies who don’t value their development and well-being as now more than ever, employees know what they are looking for from employers.

Employees are much more aware of their value and ability to do their job and do it well. This makes the need for talent management skills far more crucial than it ever was as employers need to stay at the forefront of employee demands and priorities if they want to continue attracting the best and most up to date talent. 

This additionally means that HR and L&D will need to work together to recruit, select, and train the right individuals for the right roles, and ensure that the employee experience is both tailored and rewarding.

5. Diversity & Inclusion Awareness

As part of the talent management process and the employee experience, we can’t stress enough how important having an awareness of diversity and inclusion is to create a positive workplace culture.

That being said, it’s necessary for people professionals to develop an equal and inclusive playing field at work, no matter their age, race, ethnicity, background, or sexual orientation when it comes to recruitment, selection, training, and promotions.

To this end, celebrating employee differences, listening to their needs and concerns, and remaining sensitive to what each employee needs to thrive is necessary to make employees feel safe, heard, and motivated at work.

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6. The Drive to Be Proactive

While being proactive may well be considered more of a personality trait than a skill, it’s something that can be developed over time.

If you’re an HR professional, being proactive can help you spot any potential employee or workplace issues early on and prevent them from spiraling.

On the other hand, as an L&D professional, being proactive in your role is more about being prepared. Prepared with easily accessible learning materials for your diverse set of learners, as well as continually updating and expanding on current learning materials.

For all people professionals, however, another way to be proactive is by having the gumption to act on important industry details and updates while being an active resource for information and awareness for employees.

7. Mentoring & Coaching Skills

These types of skills are among the most helpful, especially to HR and L&D training professionals who are often in one-to-one meetings or group sessions on a regular basis.

Being able to mentor and coach mid-managers and employees through various workplace situations, whether that be assisting with frontline issues, performance evaluations, or conflict resolution, is of incredible importance when it comes to keeping workplace standards where they should be.

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8. Sound Advice

When we say that giving sound advice is an in-demand skill to have, we don’t mean you should consider a degree in psychology to do your job well (so rest easy).

However, one key component to being an above-average people professional is having the skills to advise stakeholders, employees, mid-level and senior managers on operational and training issues.

For instance, creating an effective return-to-office plan or perhaps a new upskilling programme for employees would mean helping to draft the necessary documents for management to reference and send to their respective teams.

In other words, giving sound advice is all about HR and L&D’s alignment with the business and its needs and how to communicate information, updates, and changes.

9. Leadership Skills

This one is a no-brainer, which is why it makes the list for one of the most in-demand soft skills of any people professional.

As we continue to make our way through current workplace changes, every employee - from new starts to C-suite professionals - have turned to their HR and L&D teams to help them organise what the new world of hybrid and remote work and training looks like.

To help people transition over to this new way of working, people professionals have had to step into more of a leadership role and guide employees through as government regulations continue to dictate our circumstances both at work and at home.

The future will expect nothing less.  

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10. Problem-Solving Skills

This one goes hand-in-hand with leadership skills, as it takes a detail-oriented and passionate HR or L&D professional to address new and lingering issues among employees within the businesses (i.e. the current skills gap).

Three tips to ensure that you’re problem-solving effectively include:

  • Clearly defining the problem
  • Focusing on the solution, and
  • Agreeing on the strategies moving forward

11. Collaborative Skills

As someone working in HR or L&D, you’re expected to work collaboratively with your colleagues and senior management in an effort to actively align HR, L&D, and the business, so it goes without saying that skills in teamwork are key for those in the people profession.

Without the ability to listen and remain empathetic, people professionals would lack the skills and understanding to think critically about the organisation as a whole and subsequently fail to positively contribute to what should be the company’s inclusive goals and objectives.

After all, it’s true what they say: teamwork makes the dream work.

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12. Flexibility & Adaptability

Without a doubt, two of the most critical skills you’ll need to have as a people professional are flexibility and adaptability.

With the changing landscape of so many businesses across nearly every industry in the last two years, there’s no better lesson learned than to be ready for anything and face any imminent issues with ease and finesse.

More so than ever, businesses have found themselves heavily relying on their HR and L&D teams, meaning there’s never been a better time to brush up on your skills, kickstart, and advance your career in the people profession.

Reach your HR or L&D potential and enrol on one of our 100% online professional CIPD qualifications. Start today and get your free CIPD course guide. 

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