Top HR Skills and Activities

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 1 September 2022 | Published 30 June 2021

Updated 1 September 2022

Published 30 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Human Resources (HR) is one of the fast-growing fields with excellent career opportunities. Since HR professionals work in almost every sector, they are required to possess a wide variety of skills to perform their duties well. Knowing what HR skills are highly in demand helps you prepare for a successful career in this field. In this article, we discuss the top 15 HR skills, the seven major HR activities and the qualities of a good HR professional.

Related: What Are the Roles and Responsibilities of HR? (With Skills)

The Top 15 HR Skills

Here are some of the essential skills you are required to possess:

  • Communication

  • Decision-making

  • Training and developmental

  • Empathic

  • Finance

  • Organisational

  • Business management

  • Leadership

  • Strategic thinking

  • Multi-tasking

  • Relationship

  • Teamwork and collaboration

  • Onboarding

  • Risk management

  • Intercultural sensitivity and language

Communication skills

HR professionals are responsible for informing candidates about the interview process, planning and implementing the company's on-boarding process and effectively communicating the company's policies to its employees. This often requires excellent verbal communication skills. Also, you are required to have good written communication skills because you would often create and design policy handbooks, send emails regarding promotion and release memos.

Related: How To Improve Communication Skills

Decision-making skills

HR involves a lot of decision-making to support crucial organisational functions. They make difficult decisions when the organisation is facing the dilemma of downsizing. Also, during the recruitment process, you require to decide whether a candidate is a good fit for the job. Recognising the right candidate or talent requires intuition, experience and strategy.

Training and developmental skills

HR professionals often require to plan training and development sessions for employees to help them improve their skill set. By doing this, HR professionals play an important role in supporting the career growth of the employees. For example, you may want to arrange sessions on leadership and time management to help employees improve their teamwork and productivity.

Empathic skills

HR professionals manage lots of employee concerns such as excessive workload, salary-related complaints and conflicts between colleagues. Sometimes, an employee just wants to share their concerns and needs an active listener. HR professionals are required to understand an employee's situation and their point of view before making any judgment.

Finance skills

All the employee compensations and benefits go through HR. As an HR professional, you would also handle other responsibilities like social activities, training and performance appraisals. You need strong finance skills to plan and include these things in the company's budget, considering the functions of each department. You are also responsible for limiting expenditures by avoiding unnecessary spending.

Organisational skills

Because HR entails a lot of responsibilities like recruitment, performance review and individual development plans, they are required to have a systematic way of going through all the processes. HR professionals require to ensure that documents, such as legal documents and employee profiles are filed systematically. With all the processes and administrative tasks involved, being organised, it helps boost your efficiency.

Business management skills

Business management is one of the most important skill that HR professionals have. They require to know how to address organisational challenges in companies of all sizes. For instance, they require to understand employee rights and hiring laws, handle the issues of diversity and inclusion, create and manage benefits packages and build healthy organisational culture.

Leadership skills

Strong leadership skills help HR professionals guide employees towards success and help them become leaders themselves. They require to have the ability to cultivate company-wide leadership and create problem solvers at different levels of the organisation. Employees look to HR professionals as organisational leaders helping to guide the company towards success.

Related: Top Qualities of an Outstanding Leader

Strategic thinking skills

HR professionals use strategic thinking to determine how to help the company gain a competitive edge by investing in its employees. They are required to know the strategic needs of every department in the company. Also, they require to strategically retain the employees who are an asset to the organisation.

Multi-tasking skills

Human resources is a field with a variety of responsibilities like managing interviews, training programmes and grievances. To handle all the tasks efficiently and on time, the ability to multitask is important. You require to know how to remain calm under pressure.

Related: Writing An HR Coordinator Resume (With Template And Example)

Relationship skills

As an HR professional, you would be responsible for building professional relationships and creating a sense of belonging within the organisation. You are required to make decisions keeping both employer's and employee's interests in mind. Also, you may often manage labour disputes and conflicts. You need relationship management skills to maintain harmony in the workplace.

Teamwork and collaboration skills

HR professionals work towards creating the best workplace for employees. To do so, they work together as a team with their colleagues and managers. Internal collaboration is beneficial for both HR and the organisation.

Onboarding skills

An organisation is required to have an effective onboarding process. It helps the new hires get adjusted to the performance aspects of the job smoothly and quickly. Companies expect their HR professionals to have the necessary skills to onboard employees and help them settle in and succeed in their job.

Related: Common HR Analyst Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

Risk management skills

HR's risk management team has the responsibility to provide a safe and risk-free working environment to employees. For instance, HR professionals working in healthcare institutions are required to proactively identify any hazardous items and plan for their safe disposal. Also, HR has to create a safety handbook and give safety training to the employees to maintain a safe work environment.

Intercultural sensitivity and language skills

HR professionals in multinational companies work with employees from different cultural backgrounds. Thus they require to be careful of intercultural sensitivity. For instance, they are required to learn about different cultures and have the language skills to interact with people from different countries and also to know which cultures prefer direct and which prefer indirect communication styles.

What Are HR Technical Skills?

Technical HR skills are those that relate to the daily tasks of HR professionals. These skills help HR employees and managers alike to find and hire talented individuals, manage payroll and communicate ideas between upper management and lower-level employees. Being able to complete these tasks further contributes to a successful corporation.

Related: How To Get An Entry-Level HR Job: A Complete Guide

What Are The Seven Major HR Activities?

Here are the seven HR activities which you can be familiar with:

1. Recruitment

Recruiting the right candidates who would work for the organisation is the primary responsibility of HR. Whenever there is an open job position in any department, the manager sends the job requirement to HR and they start the recruitment process. HR professionals use different selection tools like assessments, interviews and reference checks to shortlist the right candidates.

Related: Recruitment Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

2. Performance management

Performance management is one of the major activities handled by an HR professional. It involves aligning the employee's performance with the company's goals and vision. HR professionals are required to understand how to set employee performance expectations, provide opportunities to improve their competence and rate employee performance.

3. Learning and development

Most companies have pre-defined budgets for learning and development, which are used to up-skill their employees. HR professionals handle this activity. They align the employee developmental plans with the company's goals.

4. Succession Planning

Succession planning means passing on senior roles, especially leadership roles, to others without disrupting the work. In succession planning, HR creates a pool of qualified people who are suitable for taking senior positions. It ensures the continuity of the business and also saves a lot of money.

5. Compensation

Providing fair compensation to existing and new employees is an important aspect of an HR professional's job. This helps to retain the employees and also keeps them motivated. Also, the benefits and compensation decisions require to align with the company's budget and financial policies.

6. HRIS Expertise

Human Resource Information System (HRIS) solution eases out the HR tasks. There are different HRIS solutions, like applicant tracking systems, human capital management software and payroll management system. HR professionals require to be familiar with this as it increases the productivity and efficiency of HR by simplifying their basic tasks.

Related: The Functions and Departments of HR: A Complete Guide

7. Policy formulation

It is HR's primary duty to keep all the existing employees and new hires updated with the organisation's policies. This might include distributing employee handbooks and conduct sessions whenever the company policies are revised.

What Are The Qualities Of Good HR?

Here are a few qualities an HR professional requires:

  • An HR professional has to perform a lot of activities in a day, thus they require to be able to switch between different tasks efficiently. Hence, it is important for them to know how to prioritise tasks.

  • HR professionals require to tackle a lot of issues like employee satisfaction issue, appraisal dissatisfaction. Thus they are required to know how to solve problems and keep employees motivated.

  • HR professionals require to have risk-taking abilities. Sometimes, they may get stuck in a tricky situation about whom to hire and whom to let go of. Their decision at times can be wrong, but they require to learn from their mistakes.

  • HR professionals are required to be approachable. Employees of all levels require to be comfortable reaching out to HR.

  • HR professionals often work with the company's sensitive data. They require to have strong ethics to protect this information.

Related: How Much Does HR Make? (With Different Job Roles and Salary)

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