HR as a profession has gone through many changes over the years. Previously known more commonly as ‘Personnel’ it morphed into HR and has continued to evolve into ‘People’ roles in many organisations. Along with the name change has come an improvement in profile, a greater recognition of the value, and with that an increased number of HR professionals on Boards. It seems obvious really, that a role concerned with the performance of an organisation’s people, should be considered any business’s priority.
But what is also often underestimated is the breadth and variety of roles and responsibilities existing under the umbrella profession of HR.
You can specialise in an area you may feel passionate about or opt for a broader, more generalist role.
In our three-part mini-series we explore some of the exciting roles that exist within the HR and related fields.
A handy guide to different HR roles – Part 1
Learning and Development/Talent Development
Diversity and Inclusion
General HR, fairly obviously, describes working across a wide range of human resource areas. This would generally cover the full employee life cycle, from their recruitment and induction into the organisation, handling contracts, employee engagement and performance management, pay, pension, benefits and other administration, training, development and progression, through to handling conflicts, dismissals, redundancies and outplacement.
Depending on the size of the organisation, HR teams will handle different volumes and elements of these responsibilities. In a small business with a small number of employees, the HR manager may handle all of the above, and enjoy a great deal of variety and autonomy as a result. In a much larger organisation however these functions may be divided up into specialist areas and different teams, with an HR Director taking the overview and leadership.
Generalists will need a strong and broad understanding of employment law and regulation in order to support employees and protect organisations, ensuring compliance.
At entry level, HR Assistants will often take on a lot of the administration and this will be a great way of learning the role before progressing to more responsibility.
General HR can be both operational as well as strategic. It needs to deliver day-to-day administrative requirements, but also think about the talent, skills and performance needs of the organisation, and how to recruit and retain a workforce with the talent, skills and motivation to deliver it.
Learning and Development (L&D)
Learning and Development is a niche area of HR, also often referred to as Talent Development. A crucial role in retaining, valuing, and developing employees to achieve their maximum potential, it involves reviewing and understanding the organisation’s goals and the skills and qualities the workforce needs for them to be achieved. This often has a future focus, for example anticipating change or technological needs of the future, and ensuring employees are ready and equipped with the right skills.
These roles will often mean looking at existing culture, assessing and making changes where necessary to ensure learning and development is encouraged, rewarded, and valued. This is both for the career prospects and fulfilment of staff and also with the result of retaining talent through providing challenges and opportunities – even more important in sectors facing skills shortages.
L&D/talent development specialists will understand human behaviour and different learning styles, to bring in or outsource the right sorts of learning and training people or platforms, to achieve the best results.
Part of the work may also involve individual, team, department, or full workforce capability assessments to understand what’s needed. L&D applies right across organisations from entry level to executive and leadership coaching and therefore has a wide and challenging remit.
There may be an overlap of Training with Learning and Development. In some large organisations, assessing training needs, setting up workshops and outside training opportunities, then measuring the impact of the training on the organisation can also be a significant role.
Even within L&D lots of further roles may exist, from administrative roles, to training managers, through to technical digital learning design positions through to highly strategic responsibilities.
The degree of overlap of recruitment with HR will differ from organisation to organisation usually depending on size. Recruitment, or talent acquisition, as it’s now often known, is a very specialist area and key to growing the right culture and best performance in organisations, through attracting the best talent available and effectively promoting the values and employer brand.
Recruitment specialists need to understand how to attract, select, and retain the right candidates. They need to know where and how to recruit, whether direct recruitment through search and advertising or through engaging recruitment agencies. Skills in interviewing, assessment and managing the whole candidate process will also be beneficial. Supporting administrators will help with candidate information and packs, job descriptions, letters, and organising interviews and assessments.
A poor candidate experience can result in a damaged brand for a business, losing talent to the competition, or in the very worst case a legal conflict. So the process must be fair, professional and run with humanity and care for the candidate.
Sometimes recruitment may be done on an ad hoc basis, as vacancies arise. Other organisations will have cyclical recruitment such as graduate or hospitality. Recruitment and talent teams in big companies will be responsible for workforce and succession planning, and cross over with Employer Branding, to assure a continued presence in the market and to build talent pools.
Diversity & Inclusion
Diversity roles have been around for a long time, but D&I is now considered key to commercial performance in many businesses and therefore this role is a crucial one.
Achieving diversity and inclusion in a workplace is likely to involve a full top-down assessment and review of existing culture, then analysing where improvements can be made, and identifying and implementing the right steps.
Interventions may include Board level coaching, internal or external mentoring, training and coaching of all line managers, review of performance management processes, recruitment and looking at the employer brand of the organisation.
It may even involve a full-scale overhaul of how jobs are presented, and requirements framed, to encourage a greater variety of skills and perspectives and to open dialogue in this area.
Cultural considerations may include how information is communicated and how minority groups are treated and supported within the organisation, with changes and education programmes designed and implemented as necessary.
In our next article we’ll explore;
Workforce Planning/Modelling, Analysis and Data
Health and Safety
We carry a wide range of roles at different levels, so keep an eye on our vacancies to find the right role for you.Back to the lastest news