Human resources can cover a broad spectrum of professions in the workplace. Typically used as an umbrella term, human resources generally refers to the various aspects of employment, including hiring, compensation, labor laws, terminations, retirement, and other inter-office communication practices.
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The concept of human resources is relatively new in the broader sense of the workplace, and it has evolved over the course of time to adapt to an ever-changing workforce. There are a set of skills and tools that all HR professionals should possess and use. Here we take a look at what you should have under your belt if you are pursuing a career in human resources.
Skills and Mindsets of HR Professionals
When it comes to the field of human resources, it is critical that you embrace the following seven key skills and mindsets in order to succeed:
Understanding that people come from all walks of life and how to communicate accordingly is a must. Communication is critical for effectively working across organizations so that you can talk and relate to everyone from CEOs to entry-level employees. This skill set includes verbal and written communication, interviews, mediations, and presentations.
2. Conflict management
The ability to negotiate and mediate any situation, from mundane to drastic, is crucial for HR professionals. This trait requires patience, good listening skills, and a deep understanding of the issues at play. Common examples of conflict resolution at work include discrimination, performance reviews, and disputes with customers.
3. Decision making
Critical thinking is important for resolving disputes, deciding who to hire, and determining how best to communicate policies or develop training materials. Some of the most common decisions that need to be made in the workplace by HR professionals include deciding who to hire, how to hire them, decisions about benefits packages, and decisions about company policies.
Because human resources handle incredibly important matters and sensitive information that has real consequences for employees, a strong sense of ethics is important. You’ll need to speak up when you notice something inappropriate and advocate for ethics company-wide. According to the Society of Human Resource Management, HR professionals need to understand that, “Maintaining confidentiality can be particularly challenging when certain information has to be divulged to others so that all involved parties can be heard and all pertinent information can be evaluated. A human resource professional must be able to strike a balance between preserving employee confidentiality and completing a thorough investigation that is fair to all parties.”
The need for organization is critical in human resources, as vast troves of information will be handled and must be handled securely. This need is present in any job but scales with the company. From confidential paperwork such as background checks, performance reviews, financials and more, a strong sense of organization, as well as the use of project management software and implementing processes to stay organized is vital.
It’s important to be able to relate to colleagues who will come to you with concerns or who are facing difficult problems. For example, if an employee needs time off due to a death or needs to report on-site harassment, proper empathy will ensure the employee feels valued. Empathic human resource leaders are often perceived as more effective.
While accounting and executives handle the majority of budgeting and allocation, human resources places a critical role in handling compensations and benefits. Additionally, advocating for a proper budget for training, social activities, and quality of life concerns for employees will ensure a stronger workforce.
Tools to Get the Job Done
As with any field, human resource professionals need access to and knowledge of the best tools available to do their jobs effectively. While these tools can range from the technical (software, etc.) to the abstract (trainings, etc.), it is essential to understand the resources available for HR professionals and to keep them at the ready. These can include:
● Executive leadership support: A solid working relationship and clear communication between human resources and the executive arm keeps the company’s goals and operations in tandem, and it will often be on human resources to set the standard.
● Human resource management system: There are a variety of proprietary systems out there, and a large corporation may even develop its own. Either way, this software helps store and organize data on employees. While you will likely receive on-the-job training for the system itself, it’s important to come equipped with solid database and office software skills to adapt quickly and intuitively.
● Payroll services: A good payroll service bridges the gap between accounting and HR and automatically handles paychecks, schedules, deductions, benefits, and paid time off. There are many systems out there, but a basic understanding of accounting will ensure you’re ready to adapt to any payroll service.
● Recruiting software: Increasingly, companies are turning to recruiting software to streamline their hiring process. This software can post ads, review applications, manage a candidate list, and much more. All of this information falls under the purview of human resources, so come ready with a thorough understanding of how to manage your time on computers and organize yourself digitally.
● Employee engagement tools: This developing field of software is designed to retain and improve employees. These tools include everything from benefits and recognition platforms to surveying employees for their opinions. It might even involve creating routine videos to quickly disseminate new procedures or words of encouragement. There’s no one simple way to prepare for this need, but staying on top of modern computing trends is a solid way to remain in the know.
What HR Career Opportunities Are Available?
The world of human resources in the modern workplace covers a wide variety of roles, all with specific needs and tasks associated with them. If you are considering a career in human resources, take into account the following roles and day-to-day duties:
● Human Resources Manager: As the HR Manager, you will be tasked to oversee human resource activities and meet the organization’s needs. Be ready to routinely meet with executives and new recruits. This position is very person-oriented, requiring socialization and communication skills.
● Compensation Specialist: As a Compensation Specialist, you’ll primarily focus the developments and implementation of compensation programs and strategies for the company. You’ll be charged with the changing of salary and hourly compensation structures to comply with laws and satisfaction of employee needs
● Training Manager: In this role you’ll help develop training plans and implement them. Clear communication of policies, and a love for teaching will help you excel.
● Benefits Analyst: As a Benefits Analyst, you will have the unique opportunity of not only attracting top talent, but also retaining them through the researching, recommending, and explanation of benefit programs at your company. You will work to determine and recommend the best benefit package for employees based on need, focus group feedback, and analysis of survey responses.
Successful HR professionals are equipped with the tools necessary to adapt to the ever-changing work environment. The University of Arizona Global Campus Bachelor of Arts in Human Resource Management can set you up with the skills necessary to succeed, from learning about the business, ethical, legal, and social factors that shape today's workplace to understanding recruitment and training, labor laws, compensation, and more.
Human resources can be a highly satisfying role, especially if you enjoy and find passion in ensuring the success of an entire enterprise, as well as the individuals involved. Learn more about how the University of Arizona Global Campus can set you up for success and help you hone in on and sharpen your foundational HR skills and business practices. Visit our admissions page today to request more information.
Written by University Staff