HR is not just about liking people. HR isn’t the job for you if you’re not a ‘people person’, but liking people won’t be enough on its own. More precisely, you have to be interested in
getting the absolute best out of people.
It’s not just the softer ‘people skills’ that are important. You’ll have a strong interest in business and the strategy that underpins its success. You’ll need a good level of numeracy and analytical skills. Being able to work closely with your colleagues and earn their trust and respect is another critical factor
Each organisation is unique and the scope of the HR function adapts accordingly. HR departments often embody the values of their organisations. You should look first for organisations whose values you share. Then you can choose between generalist HR positions and a wide variety of specialist roles.
What does a HR generalist do?
When you’re an HR Generalist, variety is the order of the day and you’ll get involved in a wide range of specialist areas. One day, you could be working with management to decide on the people you need to deliver your business strategy. The next, you could be running an employee focus group, getting to grips with the issues that motivate teams. You could even develop a new benefits package or make sure a new HR information system delivers streamlined processes and support.
As an HR Generalist, you may often find yourself supporting – and even challenging – managers as they lead their teams. Your insight into building lasting performance will be a vital tool of your trade.
What does a Recruitment /resourcing / talent planning person do?
If you’re working in a recruitment, resourcing and talent-planning role, you’ll need to manage resources (people in the organisation) to meet the changing needs of the business and in particular to fulfil the short and long-term requirements of the organisation’s strategy. To do this, you need to plan around changing demographics, supply and demand, staff turnover and scarce skills.
You’ll also be responsible for identifying and attracting key people who can create a competitive advantage for the organisation. In times of economic uncertainty where recruitment is frozen or limited, this might include keeping talent engaged and interested for when roles arise and developing effective networks of talented individuals that you can tap into cost-effectively.
Additionally, you’ll have an important role in developing processes to identify talent across the organisation and integrating them with succession planning and other HR activities such as performance management.
What does a Learning and Talent Development person do?
Getting the best out of people and linking their skills and capabilities drives performance. It can also help people find their strengths and potential. That’s where learning and talent development (L&TD) comes in. L&TD specialists manage learning and potential. In this role, you may deliver activities as diverse as firearms training for police officers and mentoring programmes for fund managers. Or you could be involved in supporting managers in your business to act as a ‘coaches’ to their team.. L&TD specialists But it won’t just be about the delivery of these learning and talent development events. Having the analytical skills to evaluate the benefits to the business will be vital.
Learning and talent development professionals are involved in supporting, developing and accelerating learning in order to build agile and responsive organisations with the capability they need to execute their chosen strategy.
What does an Organisation Development Expert do?
Organisations are constantly reinventing themselves. ‘Change-ready’ and agile businesses are best-placed to cope with the challenges of a fast-changing external environment. If you’re involved in organisation development (OD), you’ll have a crucial part to play in change management. You’ll also be maintaining the health of the organisation in the long term.
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The change activities you lead or deliver could be about developing the organisation’s culture or the capability of its people. Or they may involve re-organisations and creating more effective and customer-focused processes. You’ll also require a focus on how you communicate with employees. Additionally, you need to paint a picture, not just of what successful change will look like, but the risks and challenges that lie ahead.
Organisation development practitioners work in a planned and systematic way – diagnosing issues using relevant data. They consider the whole organisation and look to achieve sustained business performance by involving its people.
What is the role of Employee Relations professionals in HR?
Employee relations (ER) professionals have a wide-ranging brief to maintain and develop effective working relationships across the organisation. You’ll be looking to create a trust-based culture that drives long-term performance. To do this, you need a good understanding of what drives your organisation’s strategy, goals and performance. You’ll also need to speak the ‘language of the business’ and understand how people management drives organisation performance.
In practice, the job involves supporting line managers in motivating and engaging the workforce, treating people as individuals and ensuring fair access to opportunities. You may be involved in managing the organisation’s relationship with its trade unions and managing workplace conflict. A commitment to diversity and ensuring fairness in the workplace is an important part of employee relations. Another key aspect is supporting effective internal communications inside the organisation. Employees will perform best where they have a good understanding of the goals and purpose of the organisation. They’ll also be more motivated to deliver when they have the opportunity to feed their views upwards to senior management.
What is the role of Employee Engagement Resources in HR?
Employee engagement can sit alongside responsibilities for areas such as the employer ‘brand’ and internal communication. It also forms an important part of today’s employee relations roles. It’s about understanding what really makes your employees get out of bed in the morning – and what motivates them to go the extra mile when they get to work.
An ability to use quantitative and qualitative information is important. You’ll need to help develop and analyse surveys to measure the attitudes of the workforce and, for example, gauge their understanding of company values or the trust they have in senior management. You’ll also need to sense the ‘mood’ of the business. You might do this through informal and formal means, such as focus groups and workshops, to make connections and share insights with your management colleagues.
Building a successful business depends on making sure people understand and want to deliver the organisation’s objectives. Your analysis and advice will be vital here.
What is the role of Performance and Reward Expert in HR?
Performance and reward is about ensuring people’s skills, behaviours, values, attitudes and contribution to the success of their organisations are rewarded and recognised in a fair, market-based and cost-effective way.
You’ll be involved in a wide range of reward activities such as establishing salary levels and allowances and managing pay relativities. You may create incentive and recognition schemes, establish the case for employee benefits, and manage the benefit package and evaluate its effectiveness. This is all part of the organisation’s aim to create and sustain a high-performance culture.
As well as being numerate and aware of legal and regulatory requirements, performance and reward specialists need to be able to communicate and educate employees and line managers about the reward strategy; work with colleagues in other departments to create a ‘joined-up ‘total reward’ approach and support people related programmes initiatives such as talent and diversity. You will need to identify and manage the risks around pay and benefits. You’ll be able to get involved in government consultations relating to reward. As well as taking part in public policy discussion and consultations on the subject, with issues on your agenda as important as pensions and bonuses, you will also be involved in facilitating senior management discussion around the role of reward.
The beauty of a career in HR is that you get such great insights into all aspects of business.