Human Resources is a department within a company that literally interacts and affects every aspect of the company’s business. Some leaders have the notion that HR serves its purpose primarily through hiring employees. It is up to the recruiter to evaluate, test and check references for potential employees, while making sure the candidate is a good fit for the department. However, there is so much more to this department than meets the eye.
In a typical Corporate America environment, HR consists of the following Sr. Management and staff members:
VP of HR: This senior management position is directly involved with business initiatives for the company, evaluation of vendors and services, and works alongside the CEO and CFO to address and suggest ideas and changes needed within the organization with regard to compensation and various legal issues.
Director of HR: This position reports directly to the VP of HR and supervises HR managers, negotiates contracts and or disputes for union workers, addresses lawsuits and oversees the compensation, hiring practices, escalated employee conflicts and more.
HR Manager: Directly responsible for the HR staff within the organization. Reports in a straight line to the Director of HR and oversees local recruitment, employee issues, payroll (if handled within HR) issues, reporting, developing employees and interacting with management.
These three key positions within HR account for very important functions within a company. However, as important as these positions are, the staff level remains one of the core elements of a solid, and knowledgeable HR group.
What happens if an HR staff member leaves the company?
This can be a sticky problem if foul play is involved. These employees are naturally privvy to confidential information that others are not. This translates to the fact that HR staff need to maintain confidentiality at all times. Period. A higher level of professionalism is required from these employees in order to have the company function properly. Which brings us to the topic at hand.
What qualities should I look for in an HR staff member?
Generally, any one of the staff positions must have integrity, polished professionalism, knowledge within the area they are seeking, and good instincts in general. References are a must in evaluating these employees and several interviews with key managers should be scheduled. These HR candidates will interact frequently with management and if there is a personality or knowledge conflict, your organization will definitely feel it.
Take a look at the area of focus they are being hired for: Recruiters must be extremely personable and knowledgeable about employment law. They should have a professional appearance and have articulate communication skills. They are the first representative of the company a new hire candidate will meet. First impressions are everything. Feel free to quiz this individual on various legal and illegal hiring practices.
Generalists traditionally are considered the “next in line” to an HR manager’s job. They should have a well rounded background in all facets of HR: Recruiting, Reporting, Payroll, Benefit Administration, Compensation, Employee Issues, Legal issues and more. They should also have a professional demeanor due to their wide variety of interaction with management and duties.
Benefits/Payroll: These individuals should be analytical by nature, good with numbers, organized and be able to work closely with the accounting department. They should have a high sense of confidentiality and a wide knowledge of insurance plans, good customer service skills in dealing with employees, payroll systems, tax filing etc.
Think of HR as an all purpose department. These staff positions lay the ground work for a well run company. Next time you have a vacancy within your HR department, don’t panic. Focusing on the particular function that is vacant will help you to make an intelligent new hire choice for your group.