So you work in HR. How do you even begin to explain what you do when someone asks about your job?
“Uh, basically I oversee recruiting, retention, employee engagement, talent development, workplace culture, promotions, change management, emergency preparedness and response, conflict resolution, employee benefits including annual open enrollment and ongoing utilization of soft perks, policy implementation, diversity and inclusion initiatives, employe data protection, legal compliance risks, compensation analysis and all employee relations.”
No big deal.😵
Let’s face it, without HR, most workplaces would be total chaos. Their selfless resilience and altruistic leadership saves organizations from crumbling.
So if you’re trying to summarize what HR professionals actually do day in and day out, I think the word you’re looking for is: Hero.
You Can't Spell HERO Without HR
While HR professionals may not wear capes or receive public recognition like Iron Man and his comrades, their behind-the-scenes efforts are essential in maintaining a healthy, productive, and ethical workplace. Their dedication to employees' well-being and the organization's success is nothing short of heroic. HR pros are the force behind the workforce, steadily driving it forward by empowering everyone else to execute in their various roles.
Just look at what they faced with the COVID pandemic.
COVID-19 brought about circumstances most of us never imagined facing in our lifetimes. It impacted everybody, everywhere. Especially in the workplace.
In spring of 2020, nearly 90% of businesses encouraged employees to pack up their workstations and set up camp at home. Zoom became the new conference room, the kitchen table doubled as the breakroom, and then there was the whole toilet paper debacle. With so many people doing their business at home rather than the office, TP manufacturers increased production by over one million rolls per day yet still fell short of demand.
While everyone had to make adjustments, it’s likely that no one felt the pain quite like Human Resource professionals. They weren’t on the frontlines fighting the disease; instead they quietly (and sometimes frantically) ran around behind the scenes to keep things rolling.
Through the pandemic, the weight on HR's shoulders became heavier than ever. But, true to hero conduct, these fearless professionals faced the adversity, tackeld new challenges and exceeded the expectations piled on their already full plates.
Now, post pandemic, they continue to support their people in a myriad of ways.
A Day in the Life of HR
HR roles and responsibilities can vary quite a bit from one organization to another. Things like your company’s industry, location and number of employees can all impact the nature of your job. It also makes a big difference whether the Human Resources department is a large team or a one-person show. But regardless of all these variables, there are some basic hats all HR pros wear within their organizations. Here are a few of the most critical:
- Recruitment and Onboarding Specialist - HR works with department managers to identify staffing needs and get those positions filled with top talent. HR supports the hiring manager through the entire process from helping develop the job description, interviewing candidates, drafting and extending the offer letter and eventually managing the onboarding and training process for the new employee. HR essentially acts as the face of the company through the entire hiring process.
- Employer Branding Strategist - HR’s responsibility for hiring top talent doesn’t stop once positions are filled. They are also tasked with enhancing the company’s reputation as an employer of choice, both internally and externally. This can boost employee retention as well as make the hiring process smoother when positions do open up. We go into this a lot more in our article, How to Win the Talent War by Winning Workplace Awards.
- Compensation and Benefits Curator - It’s probably fair to assume that when the majority of workers think of HR, their thoughts turn straight to benefits. But most employees don’t realize just how complex that whole process is. It includes researching industry compensation packages, vetting out benefits, and executing the roll-outs of everything from health insurance to employee discount programs. It’s daunting, to say the least.
- Safety Foremen – OSHA laws ensure that employees have a right to a safe workspace. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this took on a whole new meaning for HR pros. On top of enforcing standard safety procedures, they suddenly had to manage thorough, company-wide sanitizing procedures, track down hard-to-get cleaning supplies, and brainstorm preventative measures like hand-sanitizing stations, masks and plexiglass. And while many requirements have relaxed in the last year or two, it definitely brought forth a new standard for cleanliness in the workplace.
- Legislative Expert – Keeping up with employment-related legislation is certainly nothing new for HR professionals. In 2020, Congress delivered it through a firehose when they passed laws like the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Paycheck Protection Program. HR busily got to work making certain they were in line with hundreds of new implications that came from these bills. This spring we published an article: Legislative Update: What Secure Act 2.0 and Other New Laws Mean for HR, outlining even more recent changes that could impact HR.
- Policy Enforcer - Since HR is the expert in labor laws and regulations, it makes sense that they’re also the head guru for company policies. In many cases they develop and maintain the employee handbook and ensure that it stays up to date. HR pros may need to conduct audits or investigations and address issues related to discrimination, harassment and workplace misconduct when necessary. It’s probably not their favorite part of the job, but it’s definitely one of the most important.
- Employee Engagement and Wellness Coordinator - While most leaders focus on moving business forward, HR has the unique responsibility to oversee the human side of their workforce. At Access Perks, our HR dept is great about checking in with employees regularly. They ask about our well-being, encourage us to use our Employee Assistance Program and offer support however they can. A couple ways many companies tackle employee engagement are through learning & development opportunities and awesome employee perks.
It's Hero Time
Given this extensive, yet non-comprehensive, list of all that falls under the HR umbrella, it shouldn’t be surprising that many HR Heroes feel stretched thin. And though they may sometimes feel like they’re barely hanging on, the reality is, they’re actually holding us all together.
They’re each doing the work that would easily keep entire teams busy.
So, if YOU work in HR, let me express a gigantic, heartfelt THANK YOU. I’m sure you’re going above and beyond, working tirelessly to support your people. Because that’s who HR is.
As a small token of our gratitude for all you do, we've designed five fun Zoom backgrounds for HR Heroes to use in your virtual meetings. Check them out and download them for free at the link below. It's a simple way for us to celebrate all your efforts that may feel like they go unnoticed.
And if you aren’t an HR pro, do me a favor. Reach out to your friends that are and let them know you appreciate them.
After all, you can’t spell “HERO” without HR.