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Tips for Upskilling Your HR Department

Priorities, methods, and tips to upskill your Human Resources team

by Elle Mason - January 18, 2022

Across the board and regardless of industry, upskilling and reskilling is a major trend in 2022. In fact, we recently covered tips on upskilling and reskilling your team amid such an aggressive talent war. This article, however, will specifically cover how to do so within your HR department. Because of the ever-changing state of the industry, HR will be expected to do more and more in the future, and take on roles they previously didn’t have to: from technology management to employee experience and development to cross-departmental communication.

The nature of work has shifted dramatically in recent years, and for a number of reasons: globalization has shifted the markets we serve, the people we work with, and how we work; COVID-19 has made more workspaces increasingly digital (for some industries) and has tightened the war for talent, and the multi-generational nature of work along with a general cultural shift has introduced different ideas and attitudes towards how and why we work – and what it is that we’re seeking from work.

All of that to say: it can be quite challenging to juggle these competing demands and ensure that employee’s skills and abilities stay agile and relevant. Upskilling and reskilling is growing in importance, not only because of our increasingly technology-driven advancement, but also because the ever-changing nature of work requires flexibility, agility and the ability to shift gears in response to events and market demands.

While we’ve discussed why the broader organization needs reskilling and upskilling to support these aims, it’s also critical for HR, too. After all, HR is often tasked with learning and development and determining where the gaps lie. Given that, we’ve compiled some tips to begin upskilling your HR – so that HR will be equipped to help upskill and reskill the rest of the organization.

Priorities, Methods and Tips for Upskilling Your HR Department

Understanding HR’s new role in the workforce

Part People Ops, Compliance, Administration, Learning and Development, Payroll, and Employee Experience. Needless to say, HR in 2022 requires wearing a lot of hats. How can you prioritize or even excel in an area when you’re spread so thin? First, get a sense of all of these roles and what’s required to do them well. This can be achieved with research and industry resources. From there, you can survey the current department and see where the potential skills gaps are. For example, your team might be incredibly strong in Legal and Compliance with absolutely no idea how to build an employee experience. You can use this research to figure out where your team naturally excels and what can potentially be outsourced. An HRIS like GoCo can help a number of these different functions with automation.

Automate Time-Consuming HR TasksA major part of upskilling HR will be figuring out how to automate the manual, time-consuming tasks on the administration side so that HR has more time to focus on new trends, expand their skillset, people ops experience, and more. To do so, HR should look into modern HR software like GoCo that basically takes onboarding, benefits enrollment, payroll set-up, compliance, and time-tracking off their plates. In turn, they can focus their time on improving their craft, leadership development within the role, and learning what the new candidate and retention experience should look like.

Understanding the new candidate persona

What used to attract talent (e.g. 10 annual vacation days, a 401(k) plan, and a work anniversary gift) is no longer sufficient. The fight for talent continues, and today’s talent is not only looking for more than that – they often have different desires altogether. Figuring out what your ideal candidates are looking for is going to depend on your industry: while some industries pride themselves on stability and climbing the career ladder, others promote their flexibility and high-growth options. HR teams will need to analyze the market to determine what will work for them.

Being more data driven in performance measurement

There’s a growing need to rethink HR KPIs and metrics. Because the way that we worked has shifted, the way that we measure work also requires a shift. While some managers relied on “face time” (or seeing someone in the office the earliest and the latest), for example, to determine how hard someone was working, other leaders are turning towards output-focused solutions – meaning that in new models: how much you work matters less. The outcomes matter the most. But regardless of what matters most, being more data-driven can help to eliminate some of the bias that comes with performance measurement and drive towards more objectivity.

Building expertise in employee experience and further tying People Operations into the role

Employee Experience and the way that an organization attracts, engages and retains people is growing in importance year after year. From overhauling the benefits and compensation packages offered to meet the needs of the current workforce to enhancing efforts in diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging – these are the areas that can drive the culture of an organization. HR teams should focus on learning the ins-and-outs of these areas so that they can continue to create initiatives that support the wellbeing of employees across the business.

Building business cases for the resources needed to upskill

In an ideal world, HR teams would never have to make the case for the resources they need, whether it be an HRIS or critical upskilling demand. But because other members of senior management can often be a bit disconnected from the day-to-day demands of HR and employees, HR often functions as a critical bridge and liaison between organizational leadership and people. That means learning how to build a business case for resources (and other initiatives) is an important skill for HR teams to learn.

What can HR do when there aren’t many resources to reskill and upskill?

Many people equate upskilling and reskilling with expensive certification programs and trainings, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Even organizations with limited funds can begin upskilling and there are actionable ways to get started right now.

1. Discover learning opportunities: The internet has never had such an abundance of free courses on virtually every topic imaginable. From becoming a more effective communicator, to the most niche of software, there are thousands of ways to learn for free using articles, videos and structured courses. An HR department that’s already tight on time and resources might find the most value in micro-learning: shorter (5-15 minutes) focused bursts of periodic learning on a particular subject.

Customize training workflows in GoCo – Once you’ve decided on your upskilling and training process for HR within GoCo, create custom workflows within the platform with multiple tasks, assignees, and permissions for completing training. I.e. Embed HR training documents, videos, and assignment questions within workflows and track completion progress the same way you would for upskilling other employees.

2. Pulse check with the rest of the organization: While the lead of an HR team might have a strong idea around where the gaps on their team lie, other members of the organization might have a different point-of-view by nature of having different relationships and dynamics with that same team. For example: it might be easy to say “We don’t need to review Compliance; my team knows that.” But an employee could report that, actually, they reached out with several questions but felt the answers were unclear. While this is just one example, checking in with the rest of the organization about were there are opportunities for more improvement or growth from HR is a great place to start.

3. Consider leveraging an HRIS: Using a good HRIS is like hiring an entire automated team without the cost. It can handle workflows, checklists, procedures, compliance, legal questions, payroll questions, and it can offer employees 24/7 access to their vital information, records and other information that they might wind up looking for. The more an HR department can streamline with technology, the more time and resources they can save for People Operations that will ultimately drive satisfaction, productivity and other areas that support the profitability and success of the company.

See how GoCo can simplify your HR