What skills are required to work in an HR or L&D role?

Human Resources (HR) and Learning & Development (L&D) professionals are usually very organised, skilled individuals with an in-depth knowledge of the profession. 

Skills to work in an HR or L&D role

With HR being concerned with the smooth running of a business, it’s important that these employees are skilled at understanding the law and implementing HR processes. This is also important for L&D professionals with more of an emphasis on how to train and develop an organisation’s workforce.

We explore some of the key skills and requirements for HR and L&D personnel. 

What are the key responsibilities of most HR and L&D professionals?

The roles of HR and L&D can vary between organisations, with some businesses looking for more generalist HR personnel and others looking for specialists. It also depends upon the size of the team and the sector as to the responsibilities of the role. 

Nevertheless, every HR employee will be expected to understand how to do the following tasks:

  • Ensure that the business is compliant with employment law
  • Advising management on the administration of human resources policies and procedures
  • Building programmes and processes to ensure the proper management of resourcing and talent management
  • Leading, managing and influencing other members of the team and employees across the business
  • Improvising and adapting to organisational changes as and when they arise 
  • Assisting with the development and coordination of recommended changes regarding workflow
  • Developing methods for compiling and analysing data for reports and special projects
  • Presenting training sessions related to specific HR programmes
  • Building relationships both with employees and clients
  • Working with HR systems and IT programmes ie. payroll, excel etc.

Learning & Development professionals will also have tasks associated with:

  • Organising and overseeing individual and team training programmes
  • Planning regular employee performance reviews and feeding back to the business
  • Developing effective strategies for identifying skills gaps within the workforce

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What are the main skills required to carry out each of these tasks?

As with all job responsibilities, professionals have to have certain skills to be able to carry them out. In order to execute the above key responsibilities, HR personnel need to have a:

  • Clear understanding of professional practice
  • Knowledge of business Issues and the contexts of human resources
  • Ability to understand and analyse HR data
  • Clear understanding of the HR function and its responsibilities
  • Understanding of resourcing and talent planning
  • Knowledge of reward management and what this means to the business
  • Ability to advise on business processes to improve organisational performance
  • Knowledge of employee engagement strategies and how to implement within an organisation
  • Insight into new developments in employment relations
  • Clear knowledge and understanding of employment law
  • Knowledge of organisation design and development
  • Understanding of HR service delivery 
  • Computer savvy with working knowledge of human resources IT systems, such as ATS and payroll

For L&D professionals, they also need to have an understanding of:

  • Contemporary developments in HR development
  • How to meet organisational development needs
  • How to develop coaching and mentoring programmes
  • Knowledge management

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What personal qualities are desired to succeed in HR and L&D?

Both HR and L&D require certain personal qualities to succeed in these roles. However, there are slightly different motivations for each: an HR individual is concerned purely on the efficient management of an organisation’s talent, meanwhile L&D is focussed on ensuring an organisation’s talent is as highly skilled as possible to ensure the success of the business.

Key personal qualities required by each are:

  • Outstanding interpersonal and communication skills
  • Very organised and detail-oriented
  • Ability to be strategic and tactical when making decisions
  • Brilliant at influencing others
  • A team player
  • Analytical thinker
  • Practical and logical
  • Driven to succeed
  • Trustworthy
  • Impartial and objective
  • Fantastic mentors able to advise and train

The above is not exhaustive with HR and L&D professionals expected to carry out a large variety of tasks, especially within specialisms, with varying skills and personal attributes required for each. We hope to have given you a glimpse into whether a career in HR or L&D is the right path for you. For more information and specific roles and responsibilities, search the People Management Jobs website for suitable roles and inspiration.

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