Human Resources (HR) departments are integral to any business and could be involved from the initial recruiting process, training, assessing, and rewarding employees, to any disciplinary procedures and exit interviews.

To work successfully within HR, you will need to demonstrate a passion for supporting others, the ability to build strong relationships and to embody your employer’s ethos and values.

Importance of an HR function

The HR function is found across almost all types of businesses and sectors. It plays a central role in influencing the company culture, is responsible for staff wellbeing, and ensuring that the organisation remains compliant with company policies and employment laws. 

Staff working within an HR department will be required to:

  • Address staffing needs, including recruitment, hiring, onboarding, training, and termination.
  • Run payroll, ensuring all employees are paid the correct amount at the right time.
  • Pay any approved expenses or incurred business mileage in accordance with the company’s policy.
  • Ensure all relevant benefits are issued to employees, this may include health insurance, dental cover, pension payments or company car allowances.
  • Calculate, track, and pay annual leave, parental leave, and sick pay.
  • Ensure compliance with all relevant employment laws, including equality and diversity, equal opportunities, health and safety, discipline, dismissal and grievance polices.
  • Create, update and issue company policies and procedures.
  • Maintain employee records and ensure all private and confidential information is treated in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
  • Carry out any required disciplinary actions in line with the company policy and employment law.
  • Organise training to ensure career growth and employee progression.
  • Undertake or sit-in on employee performance appraisals, making sure all agreed actions are documented correctly.
  • Facilitate health and well-being initiatives for all employees.

To become a high-performing HR department employee, you should expect the unexpected, remain impartial, always think carefully before you speak and maintain records in accordance with compliance regulations.

Typical job roles and responsibilities within HR and how they’re measured

A selection of the roles and responsibilities found within an HR department:

  • HR Administrator – entry level into an HR department, supporting the wider HR function with general administration. You will need the ability to multitask, use your own initiative and have excellent communication skills. Success in this role is measured by your accuracy, efficient planning, thoroughness, and ability to attain deadlines.
  • Onboarding Coordinator – responsible for creating an engaging recruitment and onboarding process for new starters. You will need a working knowledge of HR systems, recruitment vetting processes and, in conjunction with line-managers, create job descriptions and people specifications.
  • People Business Partner – contributes to the development of HR plans, successfully implements changes in employment law and coaches line-managers in effective management and staff development. You will need to be a natural coach who can work effectively as part of a team and enjoys developing others.
  • Comms Specialist / Change Lead – supporting change within the workplace to ensure all employees can positively embrace change. You must have exceptional people skills, high-level influencing skills, and previous experience in change management.
  • Training Coordinator/ Learning and Development Coordinator – supports employee learning and development (L&D) through creating and implementing training programmes, facilitating workshops, and designing e-learning courses. Must be highly organised, an effective communicator and able to build good working relationships. Relevant previous experience or a professional qualification in L&D will be required.
  • HR Manager – leading an HR team to deliver all core duties, including recruitment, payroll, L&D, and compliance. You will need a good understanding of employment legislations and procedures, a relevant degree and approximately 4 years’ experience in HR.
  • Head of HR– responsible for leading the transformation of an organisation’s culture, ensuring compliance and standards are met. You will need to demonstrate inspirational behaviour, be proficient in employee relations and have excellent knowledge of all HR practices.
  • HR Director – an inspirational leader who promotes a positive workplace culture and creates effective people management strategies. Ideally, you need an HR accreditation or a bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject, knowledge of HR strategies, and approximately 8 years’ experience within HR.
  • Chief People Officer (CPO)– is ultimately responsible for the HR function of an organisation and providing insightful solutions to critical HR issues. This is the highest possible accolade within an HR department and requires a vast amount of HR knowledge gained over many years of experience.

The HR function within a business is measured by Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which are typically the responsibility of the CPO, and are used to assess how successful the HR team are.

  • Decreasing the cost per hire – measures the cost per head of recruiting new employees.
  • Increasing revenue per employee – the average amount each employee makes for the company.
  • Decreasing absence rates – the amount of absenteeism within the organisation.
  • Decreasing benefit costs – the cost per employee of the benefits package they receive.
  • Increasing employee and manager satisfaction and engagement – this can be difficult to gauge. Employee feedback and questionnaires, as well as absentee rates and turnover levels, can be used to quantify this.
  • Increasing retention and reducing turnover– how many employees left the organisation in any one year.
  • Decreasing time to fill vacancies – how efficient the HR department are in filling vacant positions.
  • Increasing training impact – the effectiveness that employee training has on their performance and productivity.
  • Improving diversity and inclusion – measuring your workforce demographics, diversity, and inclusivity.
  • Decreasing time to productivity – how long it takes each new starter to reach their full productivity potential.

Qualifications, experience, and key skills to be successful in HR

The qualifications and experience required to become a successful HR professional are:

  • A bachelor's degree in Human Resources Management, Psychology, or a Business-related subject.
  • Accreditation from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
  • To progress further, experience within HR and management roles.
  • Fluent level of English, both spoken and written.

The skills needed to successfully progress and develop within HR roles include:

  • Being a great communicator, strategic thinker, and good listener.
  • Having admin expertise and good HR knowledge.
  • Having intellectual sensitivity when giving sage advice.
  • The ability to successfully coach others.
  • Expertise in recruitment and selection.
  • Being analytical and using data to drive decision making.
  • Having excellent influencing and negotiation skills.

You would be well suited to a role within HR if you are bold, willing to take risks, have vision and are courageous enough to speak out when needed. You should also be able to put the needs of employees first, treat them well and celebrate their wins.

You will do well in this choice of career if you can be an informed decision maker, who is able to embrace change, stay grounded, be flexible, and tech-savvy to meet business objectives and key HR KPIs. Your success within HR would rely on your integrity, and your ability to be a team player and to inspire others.

Next steps

Visit our HR Jobs area for new opportunities. 

For more information you can click here for Careers Advice, or to review our recruitment process click here.    

You can keep up to date with industry news and advice by visiting our blog or visit our LinkedIn page.