Most in-demand skills for HR named in CIPD survey

Line manager coaching is a top priority for HR professionals when considering the future of the profession, according to the CIPD’s annual People Profession Survey

Recognising the critical role that line managers play in shaping the success and failure of people practices, 31% of leaders said they would like to see change in HR capability when it comes to coaching line managers and 29% said they’d like to see an improvement.

In light of the COVID-19 crisis, Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, said: “It’s particularly encouraging to see the focus on supporting line managers, many of whom are now having to manage teams remotely for the first time and support workers through these anxious and uncertain times.”

To be more effective at delivering such strategies, the CIPD said more connection between people professionals and the rest of the business is required.

Other areas for further connection within HR, particularly between in house staff and external consultants, were organisational development (OD) and change management.

Though also in demand, decision-making in OD was only identified as the main responsibility of 7% of in-house professionals, and organisational change as the responsibility of 3%.

Instead, OD and change management decisions are currently placed with independent professionals - 42% and 51% respectively said this is their main responsibility.

Julie Chell, chief people officer at software company Civica agreed that each of these skills are key "for any business leader."

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: "Coaching, organisational development and change management are undeniably key skills for any business leader, particularly in this current climate when organisations need to be more flexible and innovative than ever.

"Roles may have to evolve more quickly with HR teams focussing even more on training and upskilling existing employees."

She added that the world is currently entering "a new era of technology-led work," and posited that tech skills are starting to become even more vital.

Chell said: "Pre-pandemic, there was already a STEM skills shortage in the UK. With remote working practices set to continue in many industries, HR teams will need to embrace new operating models and continue to enhance the employee experience, wherever people are based.

"This will require HR teams to both have a good understanding as to how to use the technology themselves and how to use technology such as data analytics and AI for insight-driven decision making when it comes to developing people strategies."

The CIPD’s 2020 People Profession Survey was conducted in collaboration with Workday and is based on the views of 1,368 in-house and 204 independent professionals in HR, OD&D and L&D across the UK and Ireland.