5 future skills every HR department should have to prepare for the future of work

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Simon Carvi, HR Expert L&D Contributor at Huneety.com.

In many organizations, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the transition of Human Resources departments admin-focused function into a more strategic role. HR more than ever are now expected to lead organizations through the sea of change. Although that trend is not exactly new and there has been powerful HR C-Level executives seating at boards for decades, those are now becoming more ubiquitous, bearing titles such as CHROs , CDOs or even CVOs.

The strategic nature of the HR function is being strengthened by the opportunities offered by digitalization. HR departments who manage to harness the power of digital for the benefit of the entire organization will strengthen their edge in the talent war, and reap benefits in term of talent attraction, retention and productivity.

Change is exhilarating for teams who are able to surf it, but can be confusing to HR leaders who are left behind. Let us review what are the key skills that should be developed now by every HR department now to prepare the coming decade of accelerating change.


Ability to collect and transform HR data into actionable insights that improve the way you do business. This skill is enhanced by the management of big data, allowing to streamline large datasets coming from both inside and outside the organisation.

Practical applications of People Analytics:

  • People analytics organizations have a clear data collection strategy. Being able to access employee performance indicators event in between annual reviews.
  • HR organizations that work with data produce monthly dashboards with actionable metrics. Beyond numbers, they are able to support the analysis with qualitative comment to identify underlying causes of turnover, absenteeism or overtime.
  • Departments mastering People analytics are able to project into the future, being able to anticipate talent shortages and succession planning.

Recommendations to get started:

It is not because you don’t have the latest HR system powered with AI and machine learning that you cannot get started. Identify a champion in your organization and start auditing the data sources (quality, refreshing frequency, etc.).

Business applications are often a blocker when it comes to data. You may use the flexibility of Excel and pivot tables to start generating your first indicators. Try to agree on 10 key HR performance indicators with your top management before starting to develop your dashboard system further.

If you do not have a harmonized group HR system across your entire organization, a Business Intelligence tool able to aggregate data sources (such as Microsoft PowerBI or Tableau) will already allow you to progress tremendously.


Ability to incorporate processes, tools, technologies or techniques to help organizations making successful transitions resulting in the adoption of change. Change management is before all a people process, requiring build trust and coach people to face their uncertainties, while providing clarity in the changing environment.

Practical application of Change management:

  • Change management allow to better pilot challenging times, such as companies switching from office work towork-from-home. HR organizations then become a partner to better implement remote management.
  • HR department who master change management are able to coordinate complex organizational changes, being able suggest new structures, their associated cost, benefits or inconvenient, and will ensure a smooth phased transition.
  • Change management can be used to help the organization pivot, for example working with new revenue models, selling digital products, or switching to pay-per-use or subscription revenue models.

Recommendations to get started:

Change is not only a matter of Human Resources. HR shall be placed as a change agent, coordinating change through committees gathering key stakeholders. Write a change management process and describe the role of HR within the process. Typically, whenever a change of organization applies, HR shall be consulted and perform a risk assessment and make people recommendations according to the organization capabilities. Ultimately, HR would also control the communication process, making sure information is diligently spread out across the company and supporting key stakeholders to operate within their new scope of work.


Ability to connect and bridge with other functions to ensure that technical expertise remains at the service of the business and create value. Business partners have a sound knowledge of the business environment and are very useful to support functions such as Finance, IT, HR, or Legal.

Examples of practical application of Business Partnering:

  • Business partners are the advocate of human resources in the organization, communicating trends on labour market and compliance on labour regulation.
  • Business partners in L&D are able to communicate to functions a clear ROI on a training program, and are able to explain what work and what did not, improving next learning actions.
  • HR business partners are allies in digital transformation, and help other business functions to identify the key skills to remain competitive in the future.

Recommendations to get started:

Frequent meeting with business line managers. Send your champion to induction provided to newcomers in all departments to get a better understanding of the business missions. Maintain frequent informal checks in with Managers and build your credibility around your expertise.

Create reciprocity by providing external market information that can help line managers become more knowledgeable about their environment. You want to build your influence and become the go to person on your area of expertise.


Ability to identify, test and analyse which HR systems bring the most added-value to the organization. Experts at HR systems management are able to pilot projects from end to end, to either integrate existing systems or roll out new HR-tech solutions.

Practical application of HR systems:

  • Companies onboarding the HR system journey start by mapping the paper processes to have a clear idea of what can be automatized.
  • Companies with HR systems have a clear macro view of their workforce across the organization, spanning over different locations or countries.
  • HR systems in recruitment allow to collect and process applications faster, building a healthy pipeline of candidates.
  • HR systems allow organization to assess the value of your HR department and enable the reporting of HR ROI to the top managemnet.

Recommendations to get started:

Think “Core HR” before investing in fancy tools. First, make sure that you have a unified employee database on which you can rely. Such employee database must integrate ESS Employee self service). Make sure Employee Database does integrate all employees (all locations, all contract types) and is linked with your payroll system (whether your payroll is managed inhouse or outsourced).

If your company cannot afford a Workday or SAP type of solution. Think scalability, and pick a solution that will allow you to add modules over time. Do not lock your organization in a “payroll-only” type of solution.


Ability to structure promote, share and nurture knowledge sharing inside or outside the organisation to create value. Knowledge sharing helps enhancing collaboration between internal and external stakeholders to stimulate decision making, innovation and growth.

Practical applications of Knowledge sharing:

  • Companies that harness knowledge sharing have a clear idea about their company’s expert and knowledge domains.
  • Companies that foster knowledge sharing have tools in place (digital portals, workshops, internal webinars, forum, intranet etc.) that experts can use as a platform to educate the rest of the organization.
  • Organizations that value knowledge will include internal trainings as much as external One-to-one are also a great way to share knowledge, and development plans include peer feedback or mentoring for example.

Recommendations to get started:

Knowledge sharing often starts by communicating purpose and vision to transform your organization. Onboard your CEO to participate in your first seminar initiatives. Onboard other C-Level stakeholders in future editions.

Make it easy for experts to contribute, create content guidelines, best practices and practical do’s and don’ts.

Map key knowledge domains and associated stakeholders: they could be expert, leaders, influential characters etc. You don’t need to be senior to be a champion. Younger sales force makes great advocate of online social networking for example.

Do you agree with those suggestions? Are you an HR leader willing to develop future-proof skills or a CEO that want to impulse change in the organization? Let us know which skills you see critical or others that we didn’t add in this article.

Would you like to get more ideas of development plans like this one? Browse different development plans with 70/20/10 activities on Huneety.com. New positions are added every week.


Simon Carvi is an HR expert professional presenting over 7 years of experience gained through roles in Talent Acquisition an Employee Retention globally and in APAC. Simon is passionate about how people learn and future of work. He helps organizations find practical ways to upskill their workforce as Huneety top learning contributor.

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