Human Resources

What do the people people do?

The best part about working in Human Resources is: you know everyone in the business! How would you like to be in a role where you walk into the office and everyone says hello?

You know who to go to in the company for any and every issue, and you get to be the gatekeeper to other people within your organisation so you have quite a degree of control. You get to see employees progress through all the different stages of their job life cycle too — from the excitement of a job offer to that first day, their first promotion, right through to seeing someone go off on maternity leave for their first baby, and even then maybe onto an amazing new job somewhere else.It's a role where you see someone’s whole journey and you get to see people you really care about succeed.

People always think of HR as a cost on the business, but in reality it actually saves money. If you can make sure the company is hiring the right people, avoiding getting sued, and investing in in-house training so that you can save on agency fees — you’re massively increasing efficiency. It’s a function that’s often hugely underrated, but has such a big impact.

There is no typical day in HR because really it’s an umbrella department that covers a whole range of business functions. There are five main areas:

  1. Admin. This involves processing people on systems, making sure all their data is up to date, getting them paid on time.
  2. Employee relations. This involves handling more complex HR issues — maternity leave, any disciplinary actions, organisational restructures, performance issues.
  3. Recruitment. Hiring the right people!
  4. Learning and development. Making sure employees have the right tools and skills to do their jobs. And making sure the best people are being recognised for their efforts and being developed further.
  5. Rewards and benefits. Are people being compensated fairly, are the rewards that we offer relevant for our teams? What else could we offer to appeal to the workforce.

Initially, HR will involve a lot of admin work, but that’s such an important place to start because it underpins so much of the business. If you don’t have the right bank details for an employee, that person isn’t going to get paid and then they won’t be satisfied  which will bring a whole host of further issues. It’s crucial that the admin is done well.

Attention to detail is an absolute must, as is high emotional intelligence — after a short conversation, you need to be able to figure out how someone really feels about an issue, and act quickly to solve their problem. You have to be incredibly trustworthy, because you get access to so much personal data so you have to be responsible and keep things to yourself! And you need to be analytical, constantly on the lookout for ways to save the business money, introduce efficiency, be more productive.

Finally, openness to change is really important — you are often the part of the business that instigates change, so you should be willing to embrace it.

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