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The Many Hats of Human Resource Practitioners


I was chatting to a friend the other day who happens to be a Human Resources (HR) Director for a large multi-national finance company and the more she spoke about her challenges, the more I realised that HR was no longer just HR as I understood HR. In fact, HR has a much wider remit in the modern day organisation. HR practitioners need to be incredibly flexible in how they operate, as a result of the ever increasing demands and requirements of the business.

Pressing her further, we discussed the multiple “hats” the modern HR team wears:

The Performance Manager– To achieve or over-achieve results, the business must perform adequately or, in an ideal world, over-perform. It often falls on HR to analyse and action relevant business intelligence to create and deploy a performance programme and measurement plan to assist in the success of the organisation.

The Change Manager– Businesses are dynamic, operating fluidly to achieve targets. This often means change is endemic in organisations, as new tools, process and skills are adopted to stay ahead. With change comes an impact on human talent, including changes to contracts, working practices, remuneration and a range of other areas that are often transitioned into the business by HR practitioners.

The Succession Planner– Without succession planning organisations cannot improve or retain their star players, creating a negative impact on the overall business. The HR team are key in deploying, maintaining and measuring leadership development programmes and succession planning initiatives.

The Recruiter– Keeping existing staff and attracting new recruits is critical in business progression. The role of HR cannot be underestimated in ensuring that existing talent is retained, programmes are in place to make certain that staff welfare goals are exceeded and the best benefits packages are in place to recruit talented new team members. In an increasingly competitive recruitment landscape, the retention and attraction of staff is absolutely vital.

The Training ManagerAs Richard Branson so neatly put it, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to”. This is exactly the challenge that HR teams have and need to resolve. Investing in skilled staff that can deliver optimum performance for the business is key and keeping them is even more critical.

The Equality Manager– Often, you need the skills of a UN Negotiator when working in HR in order to handle any internal conflict and arrive at a mutually beneficial resolution. HR must be unbiased and fair to maintain harmony and drive business performance.

Our conversation then led to the challenges and overheads associated with the above roles. Most HR departments still have a heavy reliance on paper, especially when on-boarding new staff, but a good HR system can help with this. It can also be difficult to keep track of documentation in and out, especially around the recruitment process, where many organisations require various documents to be signed and returned by the prospective employee.

Although just the tip of the iceberg in many companies, a selection of key documents that are needed from on-boarding right through the employee life cycle include:

  • Contract
  • Offer Letter
  • Policies to be signed for new joiners – employee handbook, IT Security, Data Protection, code of conduct
  • New Joiner form – personal details and bank details
  • Probation Sign off letters
  • Invitation letters to disciplinary hearings (absence, grievances, conduct, performance)
  • Outcome letters for disciplinary hearings (absence, grievances, conduct, performance)
  • Letters for role changes, salary increases, promotions, change in hours, bonuses
  • Maternity confirmation letters
  • Flexible working requests
  • Redundancy documents and letters
  • Confirmation of resignation letter
  • Settlement Agreements

My friend and I agreed that having standard documentation helps to some extent, but every situation is different and tweaks need to be made, meaning that having a system allowing flexibility and automation is essential for the modern HR team.

We also agreed that anything that speeds up the generation of paperwork is a huge benefit, and that decreases in human error and standard templates for everyone to use ensures that a process is consistent and fair, regardless of which member of the HR team is doing it. Another point we aligned on is that the law changes frequently, as do internal processes. These days, it’s a must that any HR solution needs to be easy enough for HR departments to update quickly and accurately.

I left our conversation with a lot to think about and with a hugely increased understanding and respect for the importance of HR and the challenges these teams face. I also wonder why so many organisations undervalue or underestimate how having a strong HR team can help with making the business wheels turn seamlessly.

HotDocs document automation software offers HR practitioners the ability to save time, reduce cost, increase accuracy and create standardised output in the production of HR documentation. To find out more pleaseget in touchorschedule a 30 minute demo.

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