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4 Essential Skills That HR Professionals Need

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

Traditionally regarded as a back-office function, the concept of an HR department originally leaned heavily into a transactional dynamic. The focus was on managing day-to-day administrative tasks relating to recruiting interested applicants, hiring new employees, properly compensating workers who have been onboarded, managing benefits and carrying out the termination process when necessary.

A heads up display with 7 hexagons that contain a bar graph, clip board, set of gears, a book, a figure indicating to a screen, 3 figures standing in circles connected by lines, and the word "Training" on a blue background

However, workplaces have digitized, globalized and diversified. As a result, the talent market has become more competitive as well, which has inevitably pushed HR departments into a position where they are strategically carrying out the following tasks:


  • Developing HR strategies that align with the company's organizational goals.

  • Serving as an advocate for the organization as well as the employees.

  • Managing employee relations in the workplace.

  • Promoting a healthy work environment and fostering a respectful workplace culture.

  • Acting as a mediator between the organization and the employees.


Both the transactional and strategic sides of HR are vital to the success of the organization that the HR department serves. All of this means that your HR professionals will need to hone certain skills. While the exact skills will often vary by role, let's take a closer look at four relatively common skills that HR professionals typically must have.


Skill No. 1: Effective communication skills


Effective communication is vital to all aspects of a business. But in HR, it is absolutely imperative, especially when it comes to talent management.


HR professionals must ensure the right people are in the right jobs at the right times. This includes communicating adeptly with candidates at the recruiting and hiring stages.


In addition, HR professionals are responsible for drafting a myriad of workplace policies and procedures and properly communicating them to new hires, existing employees and leaders.


Skill No. 2: Relationship management skills


The stronger the tie between an employer and its employees, the better for the organization. For example, strong employer-employee ties improve employee satisfaction and loyalty, which increases productivity and the bottom line.


HR professionals play a critical role in establishing and nurturing the following ties:

  • Organization-employee.

  • Manager-employee.

  • Employee-employee.

  • Employee-customer.

This is done by leveraging relationship management strategies, such as active listening, bias elimination, advocacy, conflict resolution and culture development.


Relationship management in HR also involves knowing how to work with other departments, particularly those closely tied to the HR department, such as payroll and finance.


Skill No. 3: HR-related technology skills


High-performing HR professionals appreciate the role of technology in HR service delivery. Even if they have never utilized your specific HR technology, they can be trained and at least know the vital role it plays in the department's efficiency.


HR professionals should be able to leverage technology in a way that boosts workforce management, planning and optimization. They should also have the ability to adapt to new technology as required by changing business needs.


Skill No. 4: Business acumen skills


An article published on workforceinstitute.org titled "HR's Secret Weapon? Business Acumen" points to the importance of business acumen within HR departments. The focus on business acumen is a great point because while HR professionals should have the necessary skills, how they apply those skills is what truly counts.


The article says that "HR professionals may possess traditional and trending HR skillsets such as people analytics, strategic workforce planning, design thinking, consulting and stakeholder/change management." However, "it's not just about the skill you've got, it's how those skills will drive outcomes that make a difference in what matters."


Business acumen, which combines knowledge and skill, is key to achieving positive HR outcomes.


FIC Human Resource Partners supports HR professionals in a wide variety of ways. You can connect with our Nuance Culture Consulting, Nuance Workforce Solutions, or our Nuance Culture Academy teams to learn more about how they can help support you and your team.


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