People Management
15 min.

14 HR skills to develop in 2024

Véronique Forest
Last updated on 27 Jun. 2024
Published on 19 Jun. 2024
fille qui vise une cible avec un arc à flèches
fille qui vise une cible avec un arc à flèches

Human resources skills are not just the concern of HR departments. They are what enable any manager to manage their employees effectively.

Table of contents

From year to year, the importance of specific HR skills can vary significantly based on economic conditions, the job market, and emerging innovations.

In 2024, employers are poised to face significant challenges, including employee turnover, the pervasive impact of artificial intelligence, and the imperative to foster diversity and inclusion within their organizations.

Here are a few statistics from a study by the recruitment specialists at Hays that provide pertinent details on the biggest trends of 2024:

  • 71% of employees intend to change jobs in 2024, which will put a lot of pressure on employers
  • 20% of Canadian jobs are at risk of disappearing due to artificial intelligence (AI)
  • 57% of companies have yet to put processes in place to mark out the use of AI
  • 52% of employees surveyed say that the company they work for does not take diversity and inclusion issues seriously
  • 87% of employees say they highly value their employer’s diversity and inclusion strategies

It is therefore clear that certain HR skills will be of particular importance in 2024.

In this article, you will learn:

  • What HR skills are
  • What influences which HR skills to develop each year
  • 14 HR skills you’ll need this year
  • Practical tips for developing your current skills

HR skills, what are we talking about?

An HR skill refers to an ability, knowledge, or expertise in terms of personnel management.

The term covers a wide range of skills needed to effectively recruit, train, evaluate, motivate, and manage employees within an organization. Whether a manager has 2, 3, or 20 employees, developing the right skills is essential to achieving their objectives.

HR skills: a necessity for all managers

HR skills include the behaviors and aptitudes required by all those who manage people in the workplace: manager, team leader, manager, employer, team leader, supervisor, etc.

Regardless of your job title, cultivating your human resources skills is crucial for fostering organizational prosperity and maintaining a low turnover rate.

What influences the HR skills you should develop this year?

The most important HR skills to develop vary from year to year, depending on a number of factors such as the state of the job market, the specific context of each industry, social and societal trends, and pressure from competitors.

Let’s take a closer look at how each of these factors influences the HR skills to be developed in 2024.

1. The state of the job market

Economic fluctuations naturally exert a significant influence on the labor market. Additionally, major technological innovations, like the advent of artificial intelligence (AI), are reshaping jobs and work methods.

The job market is constantly changing, creating new needs in terms of staff recruitment, employee management, skills development, and so on.

In 2024, wage growth across Canada can be expected to slow, due to slowing employment, rising unemployment, and fewer job opportunities. This is according to a report published by TD Economics in February 2024.

According to Randstad, organizations are likely to prioritize positive employee experience and engagement measures to improve staff retention.

2. The industry context

Obviously, not all industries face the same challenges.

For instance, industries like retail and food services are particularly susceptible to the fluctuations of the economic climate. Meanwhile, sectors such as retirement homes may encounter challenges related to labor shortages.

Therefore, the skills that need to be developed vary from one industry to another, depending on the specific needs of each company. For example:

  • Service companies may want to emphasize their employees’ technical skills
  • The retail industry might decide to recruit new employees on the basis of their soft skills
  • Restaurants may want to develop their employees’ technological skills, in order to use new technologies

However, a clear trend is emerging for 2024.

In general, companies will focus on learning and improving professional practices within their organization. To retain employees and improve their working conditions, employers will need to offer opportunities for skills development.

Companies will also benefit from capitalizing on their employees’ human skills (the so-called soft skills), both for managers and for employees. The development of soft skills is a trend that has already been present in the human resources world for several years. It is still relevant in 2024.

3. Social and societal trends

Social values are constantly evolving and have a considerable impact on the HR skills deemed important.

For example, the growing presence of diversity and inclusion in popular discourse is prompting organizations to give greater prominence to this issue within their organization.

Well-being at work and human management methods are also issues of particular concern for employees. People want to have a job that allows them to develop, but also to have time for their personal activities.

Diversity and inclusion will be central in 2024. Job seekers are now attracted to companies that demonstrate openness and aim for equitable representation of all groups in society in the workplace.

Work-life balance will also remain an issue.

4. The pressure of competition

To remain competitive, companies must constantly strive to improve in order to continue innovating and performing.

For example, if competitors consistently offer better customer service, a company may decide to invest in training to develop communication and empathy among its employees.

If a company is facing major recruitment challenges, it will need to stand out from the crowd and offer better working conditions, an attractive corporate culture, or even better salaries.

Decision-makers and managers therefore need to have the right skills to achieve their objectives and ensure the company’s success.

14 HR skills to master in 2024

The most important human resources (HR) skills may vary according to the specific context of the company and the needs of the job market.

However, here are 14 core competencies that are generally applicable to any manager who has to take on HR tasks, from personnel management to scheduling and payroll processing.

1. Effective communication

Communication is one of the key HR skills, since it lies at the heart of everything a manager does with their team. This includes developing trusting relationships, managing conflict, providing feedback, coordinating teams, and so on.

Effective communication means being able to express once clearly, effectively, respectfully, and sympathetically, but also knowing how to listen. In any exchange, listening coexists with communication skills.

Actions to develop this HR skill:

✅ Ask key stakeholders for feedback: what do your employees think you could improve? Use an anonymous survey so that your employees feel comfortable offering constructive criticism.

✅ Practice! Be aware of your weaknesses and work on them.

✅ Practice active listening. This will enable you to understand the other person’s needs and what they are telling you. It’s the basis of communication.

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2. Problem-solving skills

Problem-solving skills are a must for all managers. This skill enables them to make decisions quickly and effectively when faced with the most difficult situations.

In fact, since the COVID pandemic, managers have been faced with a number of considerable challenges. Many industries are still reeling from the aftermath. Problem-solving is therefore a key skill.

Actions to develop this HR skill:

✅ Discuss problems with other managers to get different points of view.

✅ Break complex problems down into several sub-problems to get a better overview.

✅ Analyze problems in detail, asking yourself a multitude of questions (how serious is the problem, who is involved, what are the consequences, etc.).

3. Knowledge of labor law

When managing employees, it’s your responsibility to know the laws so you don’t infringe on your team members’ rights.

Knowing the laws and regulations not only protects the company itself, but also demonstrates the importance attached to employees’ rights and well-being.

Laws are constantly changing and adapting, so it’s important to keep up to date.

Actions to develop this HR skill:

✅ Take specialized training courses every year to keep your knowledge up to date.

✅ Attend conferences on the subject.

✅ Work with a specialist to ensure that the processes and policies in place comply with employment law.

4. Agility

Agility is an individual’s ability to evolve in a complex, constantly changing environment.

Managers must be able to navigate an increasingly dynamic work environment, finding creative solutions to meet the changing needs of employees and the company. They must be proactive and be able to work as part of a team in order to adapt to their environment.

They also need to be able to identify when challenges are beyond their capabilities and seek help. Using the right tools can also help them achieve their goals more quickly and navigate through difficulties more easily.

Actions to develop this HR skill:

✅ Use introspection to analyze your behaviors and identify your weaknesses in order to improve.

✅ Step out of your comfort zone and challenge your beliefs.

✅ Work with a mentor or coach to challenge your ways of doing things and become more agile.

5. Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills refer to social skills, psychosocial skills, and interpersonal abilities. We’re talking about listening, dialogue, collaboration, empathy, and so on. These skills enable us to forge and maintain bonds with colleagues.

These skills are essential for any manager, as they help build relationships based on trust and mutual support. Without them, a manager would find it difficult to maintain harmonious links with their team.

Actions to develop this HR skill:

✅ Display empathy towards your employees with active listening and appropriate body language.

✅ Step back when you feel frustration building up so you can better control your emotions.

✅ Take a genuine interest in your employees outside their work responsibilities. For example, take the time to share a meal with them to discuss non-work-related topics.

6. Data analysis skills

Knowing how to analyze data fairly and effectively is a skill that every manager should have. It’s a skill that allows you to make more informed decisions, and not just rely on your gut feeling.

For example, all managers should be able to analyze their labor costs, so they know what they need to do to adjust them in line with their objectives. Data analysis also helps to make better budgetary decisions and avoid making mistakes.

Good data analysis goes hand in hand with good critical thinking and industry knowledge. A manager will struggle to make the right decisions if they don’t have in-depth knowledge of the company’s activities and the ability to step back and look at the big picture.

Actions to develop this HR skill:

✅ Improve your knowledge through self-study using books, podcasts, or specialized videos.

✅ Take training courses to master the right technological tools. For example, use scheduling software to quickly access data on employee attendance and absenteeism, as well as your labor costs.

7. Stress management and resilience

Employee mental health will be one of the most important issues in 2024, as it follow years of accumulated stress and increasing pressure on employees. Not only do managers need to know how to manage their own stress and that of their employees, they also need to know how to cope with it and overcome it to become resilient.

Employees attach great importance to their well-being and health at work. Employers need to adjust accordingly and offer their employees a better balance.

Actions to develop this HR skill:

✅ Develop healthy work habits and share your knowledge with employees.

✅ Survey employee stress levels using anonymous surveys, and take action to prevent it.

✅ Learn to better manage your emotions so you can identify stress quickly.

8. Ethics and privacy

Ethics and privacy are at the heart of employee management tasks. It is essential to understand the importance of ensuring the privacy and security of employee information, as well as that of customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.

Managers need to understand their responsibilities under the law (such as Quebec’s Law 25), and be able to meet those responsibilities.

Some fields of work also require compliance with a given code of ethics or code of conduct. For example, managers of retirement homes must ensure that their employees understand their ethical responsibilities towards residents.

Actions to develop this HR skill:

✅ Update your company’s privacy and ethics policies to clearly define the steps to be taken and the limits to be respected.

✅ Treat any information about your employees as confidential and avoid participating in or encouraging gossip within your team.

9. Technology skills

The integration of technologies such as artificial intelligence and human resource management platforms is becoming commonplace. Managers and HR professionals need to be comfortable with these tools to optimize processes and remain successful.

For example, it is essential for managers to master the use of technology to simplify their personnel management with appropriate software, or to recruit more easily using social networks.

The use of artificial intelligence in the workplace is also one of today’s biggest trends. In fact, 76% of professionals surveyed in a Gartner study claim to be lagging behind the rest of the business world if they are not using artificial intelligence in their processes.

So it’s a good idea for managers to hone their skills in this way.

Actions to develop this HR skill:

✅ Use artificial intelligence to speed up your research, develop your skills, and make learning easier.

✅ Use employee management software to better meet the needs of new generations, improve your communication processes, and automate certain tasks.

✅ Keep abreast of the latest technological advances relevant to your industry by attending specialized seminars or conferences. For example, many industries have associations that offer interesting training or networking opportunities.

10. Managing diversity and inclusion

Beyond the legal challenges, diversity and inclusion help to improve the performance and innovation of organizations.

With an increasingly diverse workforce, the skills to foster an inclusive and equitable work environment become essential to maintain employee engagement and foster innovation.

What’s more, 67% of candidates looking for a new job want to be part of a team with diverse profiles.

It is therefore essential to develop diversity and inclusion within companies. In fact, many employees from younger generations attach great importance to diversity in the companies they work for.

However, according to a 2022 survey, less than 50% of Canadian companies have adopted a diversity, equity, and inclusion policy.

In 2024, companies need to develop effective strategies to promote diversity (gender, sexual orientation, neurodiversity, background, political ideas, etc.).

Actions to develop this HR skill:

✅ Begin by cultivating an open-minded interest in diversity and inclusion issues.

✅ Review your recruitment process to encourage diversity in your company, and avoid always hiring people with the same kind of profile.

✅ Take training courses to ensure you are properly trained and able to share your new knowledge with the rest of the team.

11. Employee well-being management skills

It’s no longer a secret that employees attach great importance to their well-being and to a good work-life balance. Managers need to keep up with this trend and implement practices and processes that promote their employees’ physical and mental health and reduce their stress.

In fact, according to an Indeed study conducted in 2023, 89% of employees surveyed felt that feeling well at work was important.

Contributing to the well-being of one’s employees involves a range of measures such as:

  • Offering attractive fringe benefits: gym memberships, more days off per year, comprehensive health insurance, flexible working hours, partner or in-house discounts, employee assistance program, etc;
  • Adopting humane employee management methods: conduct performance evaluations several times a year, use effective communication tools, allow employees to swap shifts, etc;
  • Developing an attractive corporate culture: organize team-building activities, offer employees a budget for additional training, draw up individual skill development plans, etc.

Actions to develop this HR skill:

✅ Survey your employees to better understand their needs and propose measures that align with them.

✅ Use high-performance work tools to automate certain tasks. The time you save will enable you to implement measures that contribute to employee well-being.

12. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence refers to an individual’s ability to perceive, understand, manage, and express their own emotions and those of others.

Managers who lack emotional intelligence tend to be quick to anger, make decisions impulsively, or even lack empathy. These behaviors contribute to a toxic work climate and undermine employee motivation, satisfaction, and retention.

Did you know that 37% of employees who quit do so because of their manager?

It’s clear, then, that managers benefit from honing their emotional intelligence to make better decisions and build better interpersonal relationships with their team members.

Actions to develop this HR skill:

✅ Try to put yourself in your employees’ shoes to understand their point of view. Show empathy and understanding.

✅ Don’t be afraid to take specialized training to develop your emotional intelligence. Not only will you be a better manager, you’ll also be a better person in other areas of your life.

✅ Be introspective when your employees or colleagues give you feedback. This is what will enable you to improve.

13. Time and priority management

Managing time and priorities is a skill that all employees should have. But when it comes to a manager, it’s even more important.

Not only do managers have to manage their own time and priorities, but also those of their team members. For example, it’s essential to schedule enough employees, prioritize tasks, keep them informed of new goals to be achieved, etc.

A manager who manages their time effectively will be able to achieve their objectives more quickly and ensure the company’s success. They’ll be more productive and efficient, and will influence their employees in the same direction.

Actions to develop this HR skill:

✅ Set up a time and attendance tracking tool such as Agendrix to automate the calculation of your employees’ working hours and limit payroll errors.

✅ Use the Eisenhower matrix to structure your tasks and be more productive.

✅ Make to-do lists when you feel overwhelmed by the tasks at hand to help you fully concentrate on each item without forgetting anything. You can do it the old-fashioned way with paper and pencil, or use software or digital tools.

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14. Organizational skills

Being organized enables managers to make better decisions and be ready to pivot if the situation calls for it.

For example, organized managers don’t get caught off guard when an employee can’t make it to work at the last minute. Why? They already have processes in place to find replacements easily, and are prepared to replace the employee themselves if necessary.

A disorganized manager sets a poor example for employees to follow. Their actions may even limit their leadership.

A lack of organization can also cause a great deal of frustration within the team and contribute to a harmful work atmosphere.

Actions to develop this HR skill:

✅ Use employee management software. You’ll be able to use it to create open shifts, find replacements easily, log all employee leave requests and availability, and centralize employee data.

✅ Leave time in your schedule for the unexpected so that you can be more flexible.

2024, a year where adaptability is key

The most important HR skills in 2024 are likely to reflect the demands of a rapidly changing business environment, with an emphasis on agility, technology, diversity, employee well-being, and relationship management.

Our best advice? Never stop updating your skills and cultivating your knowledge and curiosity to become a better manager.

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