Going into a new year, there is always a mixture of excitement and trepidation. The excitement around new opportunities, projects to work on and ways you can personally grow and develop. But there is also trepidation as to the challenges that will inevitably arise (both the ones you’re aware of and the ones which will take you by surprise).

You and your team may have specific goals for the year but here are five key skills every HR professional would benefit from developing in 2018:

1) Build resilience in yourself and within the team

Resilience is the ability to bounce back effortlessly from any setbacks or handle any situation that you are thrust into. Its emergence as a key trait for individuals, teams and companies in the past few years, relates to the more volatile nature of business, where being adaptable to rapid changes increases a business’s ability to survive and thrive in changing economic conditions.

One of the most powerful ways to build resilience is having a strong sense of purpose to see you through all the challenges that are likely to come your way. Individuals and teams with a clearly-defined, shared sense of purpose are more likely to overcome obstacles more easily. The question is, how can you develop a shared purpose that aligns with the wider goals of your organisation in 2018?

Want to know how to build resilience? Here’s 3 ways to build resilience in your team – https://esphr.co.uk/news/3-ways-to-make-your-hr-team-more-resilient

2) Think strategically, move tactically

One of the most powerful skills you can develop as an HR professional is the ability to switch your thinking from tactical to strategic. Regardless of your current role, it is always possible (and beneficial) to think more strategically to your benefit.

It may seem difficult right now with the volume of work you or your team is tasked to handle, but setting aside specific time to take a step back and consider wider strategic issues will always pay off.

Among the many strategic approaches you may adopt, maybe it is time to review your current HR systems and processes and make key changes that make your team’s day-to-day operational function smoother. Assessing previous courses of action to specific situations and formulating how to work better next time or identifying opportunities and ideas you can use.

An important part of thinking strategically is taking the time to assess how well the goals of your HR team are aligned with the bigger goals and aspirations of the organisation. This alignment is essential to showing the value of the HR function to the broader business.

Discover how to think more strategically right here – https://esphr.co.uk/news/hr-flash-point-how-do-i-think-more-strategically

3) Challenge existing thinking about how things are currently done

The whole purpose for developing resilience is to handle change. Change is always on its way, but in the case of 2018, change is moving at an incredible pace. This may seem a problem but if you have the time and space to focus on how to utilise the technology and new HR service models emerging, you can gain real advantages to your team’s way of working.

Now is perhaps the time to start asking, “why?”.

By asking these questions, it forces you to reconsider any behaviours or thinking which may be rooted in the past.

In example after example with our customer base, we find HR teams still believe traditional law firms are the only option for employment law support… until they meet us and understand there’s a different model of working that delivers fixed price, unlimited legal support from practising employment lawyers, which is fast, accessible, highly commercial and incredibly personal.

The great thing about discovering new ways to work is that HR professionals are a really social bunch and getting out and seeing what other options are available in the market is just an article or conversation away.

4) Stay ahead of the curve

This year brings a number of legal changes and employment law compliance issues for most organisations, that will derail many businesses, if they’re not properly planned for right now.

Among the most prominent are:

Gender pay gap reporting

If your organisation is a large, private sector company, the need to comply with gender pay gap reporting before the first publication date of 4 April 2018 will mean the focus is on your work during this period. Liaising with payroll to deliver the correct figures in a timely fashion and with the right analysis is sure to eat into your team’s already busy programme – so managing this process early on is key.


In terms of GDPR, your organisation may already have a compliance head or team moving this forward ahead of the deadline of 25 May 2018. This will have an impact on the HR team which holds a great deal of personal data on employees, both in terms of the removal of a fee for subject access requests, which must be done in a timely manner, and possibly changing employment contracts, practices and processes to reflect the changed circumstances. Understanding the additional resources and time needed to ensure compliance before the deadline will be highly valuable.

Tribunal fees

With regard to employment tribunals, many organisations’ have already reported a significant increase in cases since fees were abolished last July. The additional volume of work required to plan for and defend these actions will have a potential huge impact on you and your team, but there may also be key work to be done in reducing future potential employment tribunal actions. What activity can you undertake now to reduce the exposure to employment tribunal cases in the future?


Technology and the increase in AI is already having an impact in many organisations’. Trying to stay ahead and learning such fast-moving technological developments in other companies will be valuable in your own team discovering helpful practices to stay ahead of the increasing workload and challenges that 2018 will, inevitably, bring.

5) Show your organisation the value your team brings

Improved communication has been top of the pile of New Year’s resolutions for many HR professionals. Better communication when it comes to their job, and also better communication and greater openness about the role HR plays in the wider company. Too often, we assume others know what we actually do. The truth is everyone needs reminding of the role and value of functions other than their own.

Whether you are at director level or have an operational role within the HR team, there is always the potential for building valuable connections through the organisation and communicating the HR team’s purpose and value.

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