A career in the human resource department can be challenging and rewarding. For some, the opportunity to earn above median salaries can be a strong motivation. While others, the opportunity to work closely with people in the workforce is what drives them to start a career in human resource management. But a job in the human resources department has its share of difficulties. A human resource manager is involved with making critical decisions that have a direct effect on the personal and professional life of people in the company.

Human resource management is responsible for one of the most valuable assets of an organization, its workforce. It runs the gamut from entry-level employees to high-level management positions. Employees of all levels play a vital role in an organization’s success, profitability, and sustainability. Human resource management aims to maximize each employee’s contribution through strategic human resource management.

One of the human resource department’s primary functions is the recruitment of top talent by attracting and selecting the best candidates. To achieve this, HR managers must not only work within their department but also coordinate with management and the different departments in the organization. It is done to ensure that the human resource manager not only recruits the candidate with the best qualifications but also one which is best suited for the position.

Must-Have Qualities of a Human Resource Manager

Some of the attributes associated with a successful human resource manager include patience, flexibility, outstanding people skills, flexibility, communication, and negotiation skills. These qualities set them apart from other human resource personnel.  It makes them highly effective HR professionals who are equipped with the skills to handle day to day HR operations.

Quality#1 Expert Knowledge in HR

A strong educational background in human resources is a must for any HR manager. It includes a solid foundation for the different functions of human resources. A bachelor’s or master’s degree in human resources is ideal for HR managers. Expert knowledge,  along with continuing education on the latest HR trends and best industry practices. It is only with education and experience can an HR manager implement an effective human resource planning strategy that copes with the demanding challenges of everyday operations.

Quality#2 Strong Leadership Skills

A human resource manager is a focal point for all HR strategies and actions. As a manager, they must exhibit strong leadership skills. A human resource manager is a leader. When it comes to becoming a manager, there are no leadership manuals. The only benchmark that a leader is measured by is the performance of their team. A leader is also a risk-taker, one who can perform tasks to the best of their abilities. And lastly, a leader is someone who can take responsibility for their actions.

Quality#3 Ability to Multitask

The human resource department is tasked with handling the workforce, which sometimes runs into the hundreds and even more. An HR manager must be able to deal with dozens of personal complaints while overseeing the hiring of new personnel. The roles of a human resource manager are so diverse that it even includes developing an employee benefit program that balances the interest of the company with its personnel. The ability to handle several tasks simultaneously is not something to be desired but a requirement for any HR manager.

Quality#4 Effective Communicator

Communication is a critical skill for any human resource manager. It is a skill that is constantly applied through their day to day dealings. An HR manager must be well-equipped in both oral and written communication. They must be able to communicate, concisely, and effectively to all individuals regardless of their status in the organization.

Effective communication skill is critical during negotiations. Misunderstandings between employees or management require an HR manager that can find an acceptable compromise between conflicting parties.

Quality#5 Motivator

A good strategy for helping your team at the human resource department stay engaged is to motivate them constantly. An HR manager must determine what motivates and does not motivate the team. A great motivator does not only offer benefits but more importantly, gives them a better understanding of their work. How it translates to the overall success of the organization.

Quality#6 Strong Sense of Ethics

An HR manager must not only be capable intellectually but also balance this with a strong sense of ethics. It is critical since human resource management has a direct effect on the lives of people. They must act as advocates promoting both the interest of the organization and the people who work in it. When dealing with employee concerns, they must be transparent and maintain confidentiality. To be called trustworthy, an HR manager must earn the trust of employees and management.

Quality#7 Critical Thinking Skills

The success of any negotiation is the ability to find a solution based on experience or by analyzing the situation. Critical thinking is essential, especially in today’s fast-paced working environment where every second count. HR managers must be able to present their solutions to unique problems which require critical thinking skills.

Quality#8 Conflict Management

Conflicts are always constant, especially in a workplace where there are people closely interacting with each other. Conflicts in the workplace generally resolve itself or become serious after time. An HR manager must be able to identify the exact cause of conflict and find an appropriate solution. They could help develop a compromise between two conflicting parties or file necessary disciplinary actions.

An HR manager must be able to gather detailed information, identify the issue, formulate solutions that are acceptable to both parties. Conflicts, although not desired, will always be a constant. However, a successful human resource manager must have the required people skills to resolve this to ensure that the organization runs smoothly.

Primary Areas of Focus for Human Resource Management

The advent of new technology and changing workplace atmosphere are the main agents of change in today’s human resource department. Human resource managers must be able to identify these unique needs and create a strategic human resource management plan to address this.

Significant areas of focus for human resource management includes creating solutions that promote better employee engagement and the use of new technology in hiring operations. Employee retention also continues to be a significant concern. With employees searching for companies that promote better work-life balance and those that go beyond the usual perks and benefits. This changing attitude of employees and the demand for a better workplace environment is a challenge that faces today’s human resource managers.

#1 Increasing Employee Engagement

According to a study made by Gallup in 2017, 85 percent of employees worldwide are not engaged at work. This number represents a big percentage of the workforce. They are uninspired or not motivated to perform their best at work. It can translate lost opportunities and productivity, which can be detrimental to the health of a business. Other studies showed that 32 percent of employees left their jobs within 90 days simply because of poor company culture. It can be disturbing since recruiting and training new employees represent a significant drain on a company’s resources. One-third of employees also expressed that they wanted to leave their job because they were bored.

Employee engagement can be defined as the level of an employee’s involvement, commitment, and connection to the company. Employees who are actively engaged and find purpose in their work are more driven to perform better, thus improving their level of productivity. Employee engagement also translates to higher employee retention, performance, and productivity.

The human resource department is responsible for overseeing and delivering employee engagement programs that start with the recruitment process through offboarding. These human resource planning strategies are aimed at improving engagement and ultimately, employee retention. Solutions include soliciting feedback from employees, recognizing employee achievements, and creating a better workplace culture. Providing continuing education and training, career pathway, and incorporating wellness benefits are just some of the things to consider when implementing an employee engagement strategy.

#2 Improving Workplace Diversity

Most of the hiring process requires decisions based on face-to-face communication and candidate interaction. However, this can also have a negative implication on the objectiveness of the hiring process. More and more organizations are focusing on increasing diversity in the workplace. Hiring strategies should also be geared towards inclusion around gender, culture, ethnicity, and age.

Research has shown that human recruitment managers have personal tendencies that shift towards a specific group of individuals. It can even begin during the resume screening process, where particular bias or discrimination is directed towards race or gender. While this might not hold for many HR professionals, the study represents a disturbing possibility that this occurs during the hiring process.

A high degree of diversity in the workplace can improve the exchange of ideas and improve productivity. But this can be difficult when HR management are predisposed towards specific candidates. The first step in hurdling this bias is to identify and acknowledge that this might exist. The next move is to take the necessary steps in reducing or eliminating it from the hiring process.

Organizations are expected to increase their efforts towards improving diversity in the workplace. Human resource managers must be able to meet these needs and implement hiring programs that promote diversity. They must be able to create human resource planning that achieves gender, cultural, ethnic, generational, and cultural diversity. To eliminate prejudices in the hiring process, human resource departments can employ a variety of strategies. It can include changes in recruiting, screening, assessment, and interview tools that do not require first-person interaction. HR managers could utilize HR software and tools for diversifying talent.

Hiring management solutions can include diversity filters that eliminate unconscious bias during recruiting. An automated approach without human intervention and the use of analytics can help human resource managers get a better understanding of their hiring needs. Eliminating personal information such as gender, age, and ethnicity during the initial application process can help hiring managers focus on job skills and experience.

The use by HR managers of blind hiring technology and software will go a long way in removing unconscious bias during the hiring process. These solutions can help diversify the pool of candidates and improve the workplace by providing a more diversified workforce.

#3 Improving Workforce Conditions

The work of the human resource department goes beyond the hiring process. Much of their role also involves improving workforce conditions. A report showed that almost one-third of U.S. employees felt that they were not satisfied with their finances. Thirty-five percent of employees also missed 3 to 5 days of work per month as a result of stress and poor working conditions.

Today’s most efficient organizations and top companies place great importance in their workforce. It includes investing in their employee’s well-being to improve employee engagement and promote a healthy workplace environment. Human resource departments are deeply involved in various workplace and employee programs that focus on mental and not just physical health. It should also consider the development of well-being programs which are targeted towards improving employee engagement and increasing workplace productivity.

Stress in the workplace goes beyond long work hours or poor working conditions. Employees also express great concern about their finances. Human resource management includes the creation of a financial and benefits program for employees. These benefits should consist of debt, saving, mortgages, savings, and investments. Financial education, assistance, and solutions are increasingly being implemented by organizations to assist employees in handling their financial concerns.

The HR department should provide a more holistic approach that includes a comprehensive wellness solution for their employees. Physical improvements in the workplace, such as the stress management rooms, mediation facilities, and gyms, can be an excellent addition to any organization. Investing in your employee’s well-building in an integral part of promoting positive and engaging company culture.

#4 Streamlining HR Operations

Advancements in computing technology have made many things possible. It is now possible to work in a paperless environment where everything can be stored and accessed in the “cloud.” Organizations are increasingly investing in technology to improve the efficiency in its various departments. The human resource department can improve efficiency by automating some of its functions.

Technology-aided human resource operations can help improve productivity by letting HR employees focus on the workforce. HR technologies can help HR managers create human resource planning from recruiting through offboarding. Technology can help streamline many of the HR functions improving employee experience, increasing engagement, and promote company culture.

Building a career in the human resource department or as a human resource manager can be a rewarding experience for any professional. The opportunity to work for an organization’s most important resource, its workforce, makes it one of the most critical roles.