Editor’s Note: This is a guest post written by Helen Sabell – CEO & College Principal at The College for Adult Learning, Her opinions are her own.
The HR department remains a mystery to many. You see them when you first apply, and at every performance review afterwards. But what else do they actually do?
We all know the textbook outline of a HR professional. They search for and recruit appropriate candidates, guide employees and establish policies within the business. Ultimately, they are the gateway between an employee and their employer.
What you didn’t know is that HR professionals are also responsible for establishing and maintaining a healthy workplace culture, dealing with many sensitive situations and being just as good at administration as they are at communication.
HR professionals are the superheroes of the 9-5 workplace, and must learn to juggle all of these different responsibilities in order to drive sustainable growth for the business and enjoy the benefits of being a HR manager.
Check out these 5 unspoken responsibilities you may not have known are handled by HR.
1. Enforcing a workplace culture
A HR manager will spend hours at a time carefully researching, crafting and writing up policies that establish workplace culture. This could include documents about hours worked, incentive programs for employees or candidate regulations to ensure only the best people are hired for the job.
It is no coincidence that your team is well-suited to each other, or that you are able to bounce ideas back and forth from your professional experiences. While the exact drive behind workplace culture is disputed, it cannot be doubted that HR is a pillar of your organisation. People that are like-minded, motivated and passionate help to facilitate a positive work environment.
It is the role of every great HR professional to search, test and recruit these people for the benefit of the business. Beyond this, the industry must work tirelessly to maintain the kind of workplace culture that will appeal to unique talent.
2. Dealing with tantrums from both sides
If a healthy workplace is the marriage between an organisation and its employees then the saying ‘happy wife happy life’ becomes very much applicable. HR professionals will deal with disputes on a daily basis, some of which could have major business impacts, and must ensure that business needs and employee rights are balanced.
Often a solution will leave one party unhappy – there really is no pleasing everyone – but it is up to the HR department to compromise on this. Creative thinking is a natural attribute of every professional and is the only way to produce a unique solution to workplace problems.
If an executive spits the dummy, then you need to be agile when responding to this. Whilst the correct steps against conflict might seem black and white on paper, every HR professional will understand the importance of improvisation and case-by-case consideration.
3. Juggling personal and career development
It can be tricky for HR professionals to balance their time spent analysing individual competency, development and training needs. It can be even more difficult to then coordinate on-the-job training with inductions, external workshops or supported study. A HR leader will need to not only understand the many ways to train an employee but also, which method will best suit them.
When the expected HR-to-employee ratio is 1:100 it is important that this core industry is not undervalued or undersized. Professionals are responsible for the development of each employee skill set, and this has a direct impact on business growth.
Despite often being criticised for having no clear display of work, it’s fair to say that HR workers have to operate around the clock to keep ahead, and might just be too busy ensuring that everyone else does.
4. Being a lawyer, trainer and mediator
Whether you studied a diploma of HR or graduated one too many years ago from your degree, studying to work in the field gives you a foundation for a great career. What many students often don’t realise is that being a HR professional requires you to be a lawyer, mentor and shoulder to cry on for employees.
HR workers wear many different hats. They have to find a way to balance offering advice on legal contracts with developing employee talent, and playing the part of the middle-man during conflicts. That is no short order for the workplace, but completely necessary for building trust between the business and employees.
5. Keeping talent from straying
Congratulations! You’ve sourced the candidate, interviewed and hired them! They’re being trained to excel in their field and all in a day’s work. Right? Not even close. For HR professionals, the work doesn’t stop just because an employee is comfortable because chances are they won’t stay that way.
In an age of job-hopping and constant career upheavals, it is crucial for HR professionals to devise an incentive good enough to keep unique talent from straying. If John decides he would like a pay rise, and his performance is at the point of invaluable, then it is your job to facilitate this for him.
Knowing how to retain talent is a fundamental role of the HR industry and no easy task. An in-depth understanding of ambition and expectation is only the beginning. A combination of great workplace culture, healthy employee relations, room for promotion and the right support system is needed to keep your office all smiles.