If you enjoy meeting and interacting with all sorts of people, helping them do their best work in a congenial environment, and contributing to the overall operations that keep a business happily humming along, you might enjoy a career in human resources.
What’s that, you say? Well, human resources is what used to be called personnel or sometimes human relations or industrial relations. In its broadest definition, it’s the management of everything related to the employees of an organization.
The people it employs are a company’s most valuable asset, which makes a human resources manager’s role a very important one. That role is to ensure that all employees are nurtured and supported with programs, policies, and procedures that help them succeed and thus in turn help the organization succeed. In most organizations, the HR department is responsible for:
When individuals or department heads have need for new staff members, the HR department coordinates and manages every aspect from talent recruitment marketing to final placements. Seeking out potential new hires may include participating in job fairs and recruiting on college campuses as well as creating online and other forms of advertising. HR also manages interviewing, skills testing, substance testing if required, reference checking, and selection of top candidates for positions.
HR sets salary levels and benefit packages in accordance with company policy and surveys of compensation in comparable positions in the field as well as in the company’s geographic area. It also administers raises and salary bonuses.
HR managers develop and oversee personnel policies and provide guidance in situations where workplace conflict resolution and disciplinary actions are required. This includes understanding and applying laws and regulations regarding gender and other forms of discrimination as well as monitoring lesser infractions that might disrupt the workplace.
Career Development and Training
Human resources provides orientation and training for new hires, and oversees continued career development and training programs for all employees. This might include designing team building exercises, leading seminars and classes in-house, and arranging for off-site seminars and training sessions. HR may also provide employee counseling toward promotion within the company and help develop succession plans.
The HR department develops and oversees employee benefits and wellness programs, including health insurance, pension plans, disability compensation, and similar programs. It is also administers workplace safety programs and is the primary contact for work-site accidents and injuries.
In large organizations, human resources may administer nutritional and food service programs, childcare facilities, health and physical fitness programs, and counseling services.
Part of HR’s mission is to build and sustain employee morale, so HR may administer recognition and reward programs like bonuses, awards, gifts, and contests as well as company events and parties.
Administration of lay-offs and dismissals, and the myriad details involved with leaves, retirements and resignations are also part of the tasks of the HR department. This includes managing severance pay, settlement of benefits, return of company property, and oversight of non-compete and non-disclosure agreements.
If some or all of the organization’s employees are unionized, HR staff may be responsible for coordinating negotiations and overseeing compliance on both the union’s and company’s parts.
Specialties in HR
In a small company one person may manage the entire range of HR responsibilities, but in larger organizations there are a number of specialized positions. If you are considering human resources as a career, you might choose to specialize in recruiting, training, benefits, compensation, labor and employee relations, information systems analysis, or work-life management, to name a few of the positions you’ll find in both corporations and nonprofit organizations.
Thinking Toward Your Future
Most of the tasks of HR require a sturdy understanding of the applicable law. Here’s where a master of jurisprudence in labor and employment law is a definite boon. What is jurisprudence? Simply put, it’s the philosophy of law. More precisely, it’s the interaction of the law within a variety of settings and specialties. Specific to the field of HR, it’s the study of the interaction of the law with all of the policies, procedures, and day-to-day decisions involving employee-employer relations that need to be compliant with the increasingly complex world of local and national laws and regulations.
You do not need to be a lawyer to work in HR, but an advanced education in employment law will enhance your ability to do the job. The good news is that you can earn the MJ degree online while you’re currently employed, and enhance your own value to the company.