Human resources originally evolved out of a personnel-based function rooted in administrative tasks. Historically, the HR department has been perceived to add the same value to businesses as marketing or sales roles, but that sort of thinking is old school.
According to a recent report issued by HR Open Source (a community platform for HR professionals), 68% of current HR professionals have previously worked in fields outside of human resources. This cross-pollination of ideas is creating a new breed of HR folks — they're moving from "human resources" to "people operations."
What skills do these emerging pros need to have?
Skills for the New HR Department
1. Technological Fluency
If you’re looking to hire in human resources, look for fluency with technology and the ability to learn about new tools and practices, says Fast Company. Strong HR candidates are fluent in technology and have the ability to learn about new tools and practices.
The perfect storm of scalable cloud storage, big hardware processors, machine learning algorithms, and big investments have made AI applications more accessible than ever before. According to Gartner, "over the next few years every app, application, and service will incorporate AI at some level. It will run unobtrusively in the background of many familiar application categories while giving rise to entirely new ones." If you're not able to adapt to these new tech gadgets and programs, you're going to get left behind.
Want to learn more about AI? Check out this in-depth read about artificial intelligence and how it relates to the job market.
There’s one skill in particular that Fast Company says everyone, not just HR pros, needs now and moving forward — flexibility. It's a skill that "can help you adapt no matter what gets thrown at you, and one that doesn’t often make it into forward-looking conversations about emotional intelligence and other 'soft skills' commonly deemed crucial to the evolving workplace."
Fast Company says:
When it comes to goal achievement, flexibility isn’t about knowing when to cut your losses and give up. It’s about changing your thinking in order to make progress, no matter what unexpected new obstacles get thrown in your path—or when the path itself becomes unclear.
Many other jobs already demand this of their applicants in the form of asking for someone familiar with an agile work practice.
Originally introduced in 2001 by 17 technology geeks as a way to organize their work in software development, today the Agile Methodology has moved beyond software to encompass other types of big projects in many industries. While there are many components to Agile, the Agile approach is essentially made up of planning, commitment to tasks, daily accountability for making the work happen, and a flexibility to pivot when needed in order to complete tasks.
So get ready to put your adaptability on. "It may not be a skill recruiters are looking for on LinkedIn (yet), but it’s likely to serve you well in the years ahead," says Fast Company.
3. Creativity and Storytelling
HR is now on the front lines of most company’s branding efforts, Fast Company reveals. Think about it, who is telling stories and shaping prospective hires’ perceptions of what it’s like to work in your organization? HR (with a little help from the marketing department). Traditional sites like Glassdoor and Indeed have online review components built specifically for the job seeker to explore a brand's true identity, but social sites like Instagram are rising through the ranks as go-tos for job hunters looking for a peek at company culture.
It's not uncommon these days for HR to have its own social presence. Just look at LinkedIn Life on Instagram or AmtrakCareers on Twitter. "As a result, modern HR leaders need to think much more creatively than their predecessors," warns Fast Company. They need to understand social media, digital engagement, storytelling, and other types of compelling and authentic messages in order to attract the right talent.
4. A Focus on Humanity
In a labor market where 96% of Americans are already working, the idea that any employee is expendable needs further reflection. Today’s human-centered search process requires HR to manage with cultural improvement — not just resources — in mind. A recent employee recognition report from the Society for Human Resource Management and Globoforce surveyed HR managers across the United States and found that 36% of HR teams cite recruitment as their top challenge.
Here’s how HR managers are applying human-centered search and retention programs:
- 75% are engaged in creating a more “compassionate, caring culture”
- 73% have initiated an employee recognition program
- 70% said they offer employees opportunities for learning and growth
- 75% reported they spend time on “positive relationships and teamwork” activities
Does it work? The managers polled said the proof is in the pudding — for companies that have initiated employee recognition programs, most HR managers say these efforts are improving corporate culture.
5. Data Centricity
Data-driven decisions should be everyone’s highest concern, says social media software company HeyOrca! HR leaders will need to develop adaptable strategies for people management that can evolve with the business. It’s no surprise, then, that one of the most significant shifts in the field over recent years is the focus on data, says Fast Company. "In the recent HROS report, 'people analytics' was the field with the highest increase in expected impact (22%) among HR professionals, 48% of whom said their organizations planned to invest in people-analytics software over the next three years."
This means the HR department is going to have growing access to tons of data and analytics on employee performance and productivity, retention, recruitment, satisfaction, and more...and they'll need to know what to do with it.
Hiring Future, Here We Come!
Shape your HR team with futurists or help your existing team beef up their skills for the coming surge in trends — either way, an HR team built on the future of the workplace will keep your company on the road to success.
Here's a shameless plug: Artisan exemplifies the human-centered search process and loves staying on top of hiring trends. If you’re an employee looking for a new corporate home, we can help. For employers, we have the talent you’ve failed to spot.