“U.S. companies invested $2 billion into HR technologies last year.”

Technology has transformed pretty much everything about HR. With automation replacing many traditional roles and processes, HR has been freed up to concentrate on such long term, high-level tasks like data-driven analysis of people’s on the job performance and strategizing innovative ways to create an open and supportive culture of success.

With the rapid pace of change that HR is experiencing, an important question to consider is: what skills do today’s HR professionals need to excel?

According to thought leader Josh Bersin, there are 4 must-haves for future HR leaders. Check out his explanation in his interview with our CEO Ronni Zehavi.

Below is a breakdown of these four factors that separate the best from the rest.

Know the basics

“Tort costs have increased more than the gross domestic product since 1950 in the United States.”

HR practices are greatly influenced by employment laws and regulations. An effective HR leader needs to be well versed on a wide array of compliance issues, running the gamut from recruiting to retirement.

Ultimately, it’s HR professionals who are responsible for making sure that an organization treats people fairly and legally.

Some of the key areas that an HR leader needs to be educated about are benefits, wages and hours, immigration, anti-discrimination, family and medical leave, occupational safety and union laws.

HR professionals who are abreast of the latest employment laws are a major asset to an organization since they can reduce exposure to legal risk. HR leaders who understand the law and its applications help their organizations stay compliant while protecting their people’s rights.

Embrace data

“82% of organizations planned to either begin or increase their use of big data in HR.”

People info is probably the most important asset at an HR team’s disposal. When insights about an organization’s workers are harnessed to improve decision making, increase employee wellbeing and streamline workplace processes, a company’s overall value is bound to rise.

What can an HR pro learn by mining the data? Everything from personal development, to absenteeism rates, to productivity trends, to staff reviews. It’s even possible today to analyze staff emails in order to measure employee satisfaction.

In today’s hyper-competitive market, top HR teams are using data to find the perfect people to fill job openings and keep them motivated.

Be technologically agile & innovative

“86% of CEOs consider ‘agility’ to be the new currency of business.”

Research shows that there’s a strong connection between an HR manager’s flexibility and people’s overall level of commitment to reaching organizational goals.

What does it mean to be agile? Staying current on the latest technological trends is vital. An HR department that doesn’t implement time-saving advantages is bound to fall behind the competition.

Technological advances in internal communications, information sharing and onboarding need to be embraced by HR because they boost employee engagement. HR tech facilitates a continuous feedback loop between team members and managers that’s crucial to employees’ ongoing development. And metric-driven feedback clarifies expectations, which increases an employee’s confidence in an organization.

On the other hand, HR leaders who stick with spreadsheets and generally avoid technological innovation will have a hard time attracting and keeping the best and brightest talents.

Business acumen: know the business

“73% of CEOs say that their HR leader had provided data that they had incorporated into their business strategy.”

Indispensable HR leaders don’t work in a vacuum. They are strategic partners in an organization and have a deep understanding of its business and financial model.

HR professionals understand that an organization’s most valuable commodity is its people. As a result, recruiting, retaining and developing talent must be closely connected with organizational business goals. The best HR pros are those who are in regular contact with leadership in order to ensure that HR strategies are in sync with a company’s short and long term objectives.

To be a strategic business partner, HR pros must know an organization’s key performance metrics, including profit, margin and ROI – as well as what drives these measurements. By combining their business knowledge with their understanding of the people that comprise an organization, effective HR leaders can develop innovative solutions to business problems that arise.

Do you have what it takes?

“I believe the real difference between success and failure in a corporation can be very often traced to the question of how well the organization brings out the great energies and talents of its people.” — Thomas J. Watson, Jr.

Today, a great HR leader is much more than just a people person. To be an effective human resources management professional requires a unique balance of compassion, technological know-how, business acumen and legal knowledge. WIth these traits, an HR professional can facilitate better decision making as well as influence an organization’s decision-makers.

Indeed, the best HR leaders can have a positive long term impact on an organization and its people.

From Danielle Mizrachi

Danielle is a Marketing Manager at Hibob. She studied Business and Psychology and believes in the power of utilising behavioral insights to form great companies. She enjoys discovering what the future of work might look like, listening to podcasts, traveling, and hiking.