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What are the HR Skills of the Future?

September 3,2019

The Human Resources profession requires to change. It needs to become more digital and analytical to deliver greater business value. The digital age has brought with it sweeping changes to the way that employees and workers communicate with each other, the way that work itself gets done and the amount of workplace data that when analysed properly can create huge amounts of value for organisations.

As a consequence, there is an increasing urgency for HR professionals to become digitally and numerically literate – to acquire the skills necessary to process, generate and leverage digital information. When HR professionals, as core Business Partners, are analytically and digitally more literate, they will possess skills that will put their organisation in the best possible position to deliver higher value to all stakeholders.

But what do HR professionals themselves want to learn?

This question is the one that we, analyzed via our crowd-sourced survey in late 2018. We wanted to do something different. We did not want to go to a select group of companies. We did not want to pre-select a number of people beforehand or gather data via selective focus groups. We wanted to generate data from people across the world and ask them what skills they thought were most important to learn for 2019 and how they wanted to learn.

Our Key Findings - Skills of the Future

Of our survey respondents, 72% of them stated they had roles in Human Resources within their organisations. A further 23% worked in areas that support HR - either as a consultant or working for HR vendors. When requested a “free text” question we found these insights:

  • Expertise in People Analytics is the most in-demand skill. People want to become more analytical and data-driven.
  • Managing stakeholders and influencing others are key skills for HR professionals. There is a clear indication that being effective in these two skills is very important to be a successful HR professional in 2019.
  • Learning about new HR technologies and using techniques like design thinking to accelerate adoption are also skill areas that are essential for Human Resources professionals.

Our Key Findings - The Future of Learning

We asked respondents about the methods they use for learning and the amount of time they consume using them every month. We asked them about blogs, free online training and formal online company training, amongst other things. Our hypothesis was that people don’t learn from training provided to them by their company as much as they do from other sources. In summary we found the following:

Three-quarters (75%) of our survey respondents said they spend at least four hours (or half a day) a month studying from free content such as blogs, articles or directly from social media. The number rose to 97% of respondents spending at least one hour a month. Only 32% learn for more than four hours a month from free online training sources (such as that found on YouTube). The number rose to 76% for those spending at least one hour a month training using these types of platforms.

When asked about formal online training provided by their company, only 13% of respondents said they learn this way for four hours or more a month. And in total only about half (52%) of people learn this way for at least one hour or more a month.

In summary, people want to learn their professionals skills using platforms and sources outside their company. This tells us that company developed training is not having the effect needed in the modern world. Also it seems clear that many organisations are not doing enough to equip HR professionals with access to the type of content that they need to develop the skills necessary for the future.



The Human Resources profession needs to change. It must become more digital and analytical to deliver greater business value – and as the findings of our above study reveal, this has been recognised by HR professionals themselves too.

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