Human Resources

Skills for HR

As HR is people-centric this can be a frustrating role or a satisfying one and the pendulum will swing vigorously between these extremes. Imagine you are informing a close relative of an employee who has died whilst at work or imagine you are telling a candidate they have been chosen for the new job. You will be involved in arbitrations and will be regarded as a confidante among staff generally. The employees will ask you for advice and guidance when there is a sudden change in their personal circumstances such as illness, marriage or divorce. These situations can create a conflict of scenarios for the HR executive who wishes to empathise and is supportively sympathetic to the employee's problem, whilst knowing that they have a vital role to fulfil in the organization.

There is heavy concentration on administration incorporating employment contracts, payroll, offers of employment and notification of recruitment dismissal or suspension. Organizations are employing more staff on a contract basis to cover maternity or paternity leave, sickness or a spike in trading, all creating an additional onus on the paperwork.

I purport that today's working environment is predominately task not people focused. This would endorse the profile of the Analyst as the most suitable personality type for a career in HR, though it will also fit the Supporter's skills, providing they can cope with the need sometimes to depersonalise emotional situations. This is a rewarding, busy career where there is logical career scope right to the board and where you are constantly at the forefront of new developments in the workplace. Confidentiality is paramount as candidates will often confide in you or you may be privy to sensitive information concerning your employer's future plans. Offering a sympathetic ear, conducting a disciplinary session, informing an employee of a promotion are all part of the rich mix of the modern HR professional.
Qualifications required: in the UK you will normally be a graduate and then obtain your Chartered Institute of Personnel Development qualification

Its workplace

HR plays an important role particularly within large multinational organisations. Employing the right staff with the right skills is foundational to the success of all organisations.
We are familiar with the recruiting function of HR but the tasks are multidimensional. Imagine the board of a UK company is discussing their strategic global expansion plans in China or India. The HR function would play an important role in the production of data regarding the culture, attitude, work ethic, recruitment, retention, dismissal and remuneration of local staff. Get it right and the launch will be a success, be dismissive of local traditions and ethics and the consequences, which, from a confidence perspective, can take a long time to redress. HR plays a pivotal role at all stages of an employer's activity – expansions, contractions, resites and closures.

The HR office must always be accessible and large employers will give their staff regular performance indicators, which will have been drafted jointly with HR and the departmental management. The key staff which the employer wants to retain will be given special treatment, and made to feel wanted, and HR will implement processes including appraisals, talent management and succession planning.
In its introduction the publication Career Coaching highlights that the dynamic of change is generic in today's employment market. This phenomenon puts a particular onus on HR professionals who must constantly forward plan to ensure that the skill requirements match the needs of their market. This highlights the importance of constantly changing and updating the training needs analysis strategy, to ensure that the education skills programmes are fit for purpose.

Industrial and employee relations can be a critical remit for the HR executive. They will have to negotiate with stakeholders such as trade unions and with internal employees who are representing the workforce. Knowing that your communication skills may at critical times provoke or avert a damaging strike is an indication of the demands of the HR role.
Keeping up to date with employment law and how it is to be applied and interpreted is necessary to safeguard the employer from being sued for breach of contract or treating an employee unfairly as judged by an employment tribunal. Racism, sexism and ageism are prevalent issues in today's workplace and, whilst there may be prescriptive legislation, contextual interpretation will be the challenge for the HR professional who is dealing with a predacious employee.

Coaching and mentoring are becoming more popular in today's stressful work environment and their conduct and management are tasks which normally fall within the HR department's responsibilities.

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