The HR (Human Resources) department is a group that is responsible for managing the employee life cycle (i.e., recruiting, hiring, onboarding, training, and firing employees) and administering employee benefits. The human resource department provides effective policies, procedures, and people-friendly guidelines and support. Additionally, the human resource function serves to make sure that the company’s mission, vision, and values are part of the company culture.
Skills Required By an HR
1. Communication skills
Communication is essential in Human Resource Management, as the HR professional is the link between the business and the employee.
Example: When they have questions regarding taking a day off or any other employment issue, they will come to you. Being able to efficiently handle their questions and complaints is key to most generalist roles.
2. Administrative expert
Administrative duties involve areas like employee leave, absence, absence files, the in- and outflow of employees, payroll and other topics.
Despite the rise of digital HR and the increase in automation of HR tasks, administrative duties still haven’t disappeared till now. They are mentioned as an integral part of the job in many of the job postings. Being an administrative expert helps in entering data in a precise manner.
3. HRM knowledge and expertise
Previous work experience, or educational background in Human Resource Management or Industrial- and Organizational Psychology are very helpful. It helps to understand recruitment, selection, absence procedures, data reporting, and other personnel processes.
An educational background in psychology or HRM often also helps to develop the soft skills that are helpful in communication and coaching.
Proactivity is often considered more of a personality trait than a skill. However, it is certainly something you can develop over time. As an HR professional, you are the connection between the employer and the employee, therefore proactivity can help you in spotting potential problems early and preventing them from escalating.
In line with this, proactive Human Resource Management is preferred over-reactive HRM.
Proactive HRM helps to plan and align the core HR tasks in a way that offers the most value to the business.
One of the key HR skills is advising different stakeholders. You need to able to advise both employees, line managers, and senior managers on personnel issues.
These issues can be very operational, for example creating a re-integration plan for an employee or helping a senior manager with the formulation of an email to the department. More tactical issues are the organization and advising in restructuring efforts. Strategic advice involves the alignment of HR practices to align more with the business.
This advice also has to be communicated.
Coaching skills are helpful when it comes to one-on-one or group sessions to spread information or train people. This happens in training and development situations, but also in onboarding, re-integration, conflict resolution, and in assisting frontline managers with people issues. These coaching skills are most often developed on-the-job or in external coaching training.
7. Recruitment and selection
Finding qualified candidates, selecting the best, and exploring if there’s a match between the candidate, the company’s culture and the manager is one of the most important HR tasks.
8. HRIS knowledge
Human Resource Information Systems are the digital counterpart of the soft-side of Human Resource Management. Most information regarding hiring, performance evaluation, payroll, rewards and benefits, and more are registered in one or more HRIS.
Large organizations usually have standard providers like SAP (with SuccessFactors) or Oracle. Smaller companies work with smaller providers. Knowledge of an HRIS is a prerequisite for most senior HR jobs and one of the top technology skills HR professionals need today.
It’s hard to understand these systems without having hands-on experience in them.
9. Intercultural sensitivity and language skills
This HR skill depends on the specifics of the organization. Especially for larger multinational companies, intercultural sensitivity is a must. When you’re in touch with managers and employees in different countries, you need to be aware of intercultural differences.
For example practices for managing and retaining people can differ tremendously between cultures. In India, it is common to get a promotion every single year, while in the Western world this happens on average every 3-5 years.
The cultural differences will impact how you try to hire, retain, and promote people. There are also communication differences with regard to evaluating people. Israelis, Russians, and the Dutch are very direct whereas Japanese and southeast Asian countries are much more indirect. Using the wrong communication style may result in your message not being perceived as important – or risks offending people from more indirect cultures.
10. Analytically driven and oriented
Most HR generalists are now required to be analytically-driven and oriented. There’s a push through all departments to leverage the power of data analytics to make better decisions. This can involve the use of complicated predictive analytics on HR data, or the much simpler use of data to make better decisions.
11. HR reporting skills
These skills include the ability to create, read, and interpret HR reports using data coming from different Human Resource Information Systems.
Reporting on key metrics is key to advising managers and employees, create better people policies, and make otherwise more evidence-based decisions.
Teamwork is one of that HR skills that is impossible to avoid. As an HR professional, you’re expected to work together with your colleagues in HR and with managers in the organization. Working together internally by actively aligning HR activities benefits both the organization and HR.
Responsibilities of the HR
1. Recruit candidates
HR needs to understand the organization’s needs and make sure those needs are met when recruiting for new positions. Recruiting is a massive—and costly—undertaking; the right candidate can revitalize an entire organization, but the wrong candidate can upend operations.
2. Hire the right employees
Human resources is in charge of arranging interviews, coordinating hiring efforts, and onboarding new employees. They’re also in charge of making sure all paperwork involved with hiring someone is filled out and making sure that everything from the first day to each subsequent day is navigated successfully.
3. Process payroll
Payroll is its own beast. Every payday must have taxes calculated and hours collected. Expenses need to be reimbursed and bonuses need to be added in as well.
4. Conduct disciplinary actions
This responsibility may be why HR tends to get a bad rap. When navigated inappropriately, disciplinary actions can lead to the loss of a valuable employee and can even result in litigation or a poor reputation. But when handled appropriately, disciplinary action can result in the success of an employee.
For instance, if a company notices that a particular employee is routinely late and continues being late even after the employee has received several warnings, HR could step in and investigate the reason for the tardiness. It may be an opportunity to extend benefits such as counselling to the employee or offer additional resources to help the employee learn to be on time. Instead of taking on the cost of firing and then recruiting a replacement for that employee, it could be a learning opportunity that could enhance that employee’s career. It’s up to HR to develop a strong enough relationship with managers and employees alike to identify the cohesiveness and health of a team.
5. Update policies
Policies need to be updated (or at least examined) every year as the organization changes. It’s HR’s job to make official updates to policies and to suggest changes to policies when they no longer serve the company or the employees. Sometimes a policy should be updated as a reaction to an occurrence. HR should always be included in and consulted with regarding these decisions.
6. Maintain employee records
Maintaining HR records is mandated by law. These records help employers identify skill gaps to help with the hiring process and to analyze demographic data and comply with regulations. They also contain personal details and emergency contacts for each employee.
7. Conduct benefit analysis
Staying competitive is of prime importance when trying to attract the best talent. A promising recruit may choose a different company with lesser pay if the benefits are more attractive. HR should routinely investigate similar companies to see if their benefits are compatible.