Understanding the role of HR
In a world with an increasing need for a global workforce, a career in human resource management is considered one of the most promising ones, and HR itself one of the fastest-growing industries. According to Mauer (2019) employment of human resource managers in the US is projected to grow 7% by 2028, which in comparison to any other ocupation reaching 5,2% is an upscale. What it means in practice is the estimated opening of 14,400 jobs annually (Mauer, 2019). This trend is not only a reflection of the US market but a global tendency.
What is so special about working in human resources is the need to understand both the international character of employees in the 21st century, rotating between jobs, being able to move counties in search of a dream job, and employers (companies) looking for dedicated staff determined to offer competitive employment packages to attract and retain the best talents.
What is the role of HR? In big shortcut, as a human resource professional one needs to effectively manage an organization's human capital, oversee the business of managing people in an organization (including training and development, staffing, and strategic planning), recruit and retain the best employees (making the company competitive in terms of its attractiveness to potential candidates).
However, as stated by many HR professionals, their role goes way beyond conducting interviews, explaining company benefits and managing employee relations. In fact, HR professionals play a much larger role in today’s business than ever before. Having an HR department is often considered strategic for an organization as its role has evolved from behind-the-scenes performing administrative responsibilities to active involvement in shaping corporate policy and strategy.
Companies nowadays realize and recognize what significant role an HR department has in the overall success of the organization. Why? Because as much as processes, policies and structures of other successful organizations can be replicated, the ability to acquire the right talent and maintain it makes the company unique.
Is HR profession something for me?
Working in an HR department requires both technical knowledge and soft skills. The fact that the job itself entails lots of interaction with people, patience, flexibility, empathy and emotional intelligence are crucial to being successful in the job. Applying for the HR profession one needs to bear in mind that the role will include liaising with all company stakeholders, which is not always an easy thing to do.
Representing the company’s and employees’ best interests while dealing with a situation involving conflict is not only complicated but also requires attention to detail, a strong knowledge of employment laws and business practices, and well-developed communication skills. Being able to represent the voice of management (and follow organizational policies and practices), and act as an employee’s advocate (ensuring their standpoint is being heard and understood), thus supporting both sides of the conflict, necessitates diplomacy and the ability to make sound, unbiased judgment (shrm.com).
Naturally, the HR profession does not only involve managing stressful, conflict situations. It is also about linking people strategies with business strategies, and what is considered quintessential- the art of adding the value of human capital to the company.
What do HR studies entail?
The HR programme curriculum focuses mostly on behavioral and social sciences concentrating on developing interpersonal skills needed to excel in HR. What it means is that HR professionals are trained on how to communicate appropriately, how to deal with issues escalation, how to teamwork, etc.
However, the changing role of HR professionals and recognition of HR departments as critical to business success enforced the introduction to the curriculum analytical skills. As a result, most programmes now include modules dedicated to general business with a focus on elements of labor law, accounting or policy application. This is to ensure that future HR professionals meet greater technical demands and during their studies are already exposed to practicing actively functional areas of knowledge such as for example managing business risk, decisions making, creating strategies and their execution (shrm.com).
Find My Programme HR programme portfolio
Within the portfolio of Find My Programme we offer online post-graduate certificates, post-graduate diplomas and master degree level programmes delivered by two institutions Essex Online and Liverpool University Online.
- MSc International Human Resource Management delivered by Essex Online focuses first on studying the theory and then moving towards the practice of human resource management in the context of a global economy. Students are encouraged to explore a number of key HR topics including: strategic human resource development and learning and talent development practices and policies, the management of diversity and inclusion in national and international contexts and their influence on shaping diversity of policies and practices within organisations, the significance of leadership and management development.
- Similarly, to Essex Online, the University of Liverpool in its Master’s in International Human Resource Management focuses on developing key HR skills and well as core business competencies such as finance and data analysis, managing change and conflict, becoming a leader, and performance management. The programme focuses on the international dimension and implications of human resource management practices and their impact on business functions, including the complexities of managing people across multiple countries, legislative frameworks and cultures.
- Among shorter, one-year long, courses there is Niagara College Toronto offering a graduate certificate in Human Resource Management. Full details can be found here.
Careers in HR
In principle, there are two pathways to choose from while following a career in HR: the general and the specialist pathway. The choice depends on two factors personal preferences and the nature, size and scope of the organization one is working for.
As the generalist you may expect to be involved in various day-to-day responsibilities including hiring new employees, working on compensation and benefits, providing training, administering policies, maintaining procedures, etc. These responsibilities may vary depending on the needs of the company and its current situation. Therefore, for someone who enjoys the variety and switching tasks (e.g. dealing one day with onboarding new employees and the other day with solving workplace disputes, or evaluations) this can be the right career choice (indeed.com).
The Specialist role was created as a response to the growing need for HR specialists with particular technical knowledge and skills in specific areas of human resource management. Contrary to the generalist, the specialist is trained to work in a particular area of human resources, like benefits administration, training and development, risk management or recruitment. This is a perfect choice for an individual who prefers to stay more focused on a specific set of responsibilities (indeed.com).
The growing demand for HR generates more and more interest in this area of studies, and the fact that through recent years HR role and importance grew to the extent it is considered essential for organization development and staff retention, HR programmes are among the most popular study direction. The growing demand for a workforce, less restricted job market, ability to work remotely, ease to move countries, and determination to hire accurate talent and manage it well, create a strong need for HR professionals skilled to be able to handle it and mark its contribution to the success of organizations.
Indeed Editorial Team (2021) ‘HR Specialist vs. HR Generalist: What's the Difference?’ (With FAQs). Available on: https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/finding-a-job/hr-specialist-vs-hr-generalist (Accessed: 28 November 2022).
Mauer, R. (2019) ‘HR Manager Is One of the Most Promising Careers’. Available on: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/organizational-and-employee-
development/pages/hr-manager-is-one-of-the-most-promising-careers.aspx (Accessed 29 November 2022).
Shrm.org (2022) ‘Preparing for a Career in HR’, Available on: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages/preparing-for-a-career-in-hr.aspx (Accessed 29 November 2022).