As more businesses open and continue to grow, it is imperative to understand the function of Human Resources, as this department is much more than employment recruiting and management. Originally, many companies began with Personnel Departments that later evolved into Human Resources (HR) Departments, and ultimately became the heart of a company.
Depending on the size of the establishment, a Human Resources administrator can wear many hats.
Some standard responsibilities might include managing payroll, confidentially handling personnel complaints of harassment, discrimination, or any hostile work environment issue. An HR administrator attentively searches for the best benefits to offer employees including affordable healthcare insurance programs and convenient 401(k) plans. Dedicated HR representatives also search diligently for new employee candidates, and conduct thorough interviews to ensure these individuals are a good fit for the company both professionally and personally. Upon completion of the hiring process, the HR practitioner performs orientations and informs the new hire of company policies, benefits, and other important information. On the flipside of spearheading the hiring process, all paperwork regarding employee terminations is governed by HR as well. Overall, this department is the confidential go-between for employees and the company they support.
Additionally, HR ensures their company is in compliance with frequently changing labor laws, making webinars, seminars, and lots of reading a must for practitioners to stay current. Programs such as Workers Compensation, the Family Medical Leave Act, audits, and vacation, sick, and personal time are also meticulously tracked by HR.
Maintaining high employee work morale is a never-ending priority. Trying to come up with ways and ideas to keep everyone happy can be challenging, though the reward of a low turnover rate is worth the effort. The HR department should be a place where employees come to get company information, but also an oasis to vent if necessary, seeing as HR can put out company-related fires before they get too big.
In general, performing the duties of an HR practitioner can be very demanding at times, but equally gratifying. As the caretaker of the human spirit inside the workplace, there is never a dull moment!
Info to Know
So what is HR?
HR ensures their company is in compliance with frequently changing labor laws, making webinars, seminars, and lots of reading a must for practitioners to stay current.
Maintaining high employee work morale is a never-ending priority.
Trying to come up with ways and ideas to keep everyone happy can be challenging, though the reward of a low turnover rate is worth the effort.
Janae Morris (JM): Ciao Lynne! Thanks so much for lending your talents to PreGel’s quarterly magazine with such thorough insight. Now that we know what HR is, give us a bit of insight into what HR isn’t. For instance, what are some examples of HR administrators behaving badly in terms of conduct that breach the ethics of your profession? What should an HR administrator avoid doing/behaving like?
Lynne Lee (LL): I can only say what we should behave like and anything opposite would be wrong. We are to be responsible, ethical, and professional in our decisions, in order to bring value and success to the company. Anything less than this is unacceptable for the HR world. We must keep a high level of trust with our co-workers and any organization that we may partner with.
(JM): This is a very delicate profession as far as the handling of people, their emotions, morale, issues, etc. And I’m sure there is a lot of development that takes place over the years to be able to handle such duties (which can be emotionally daunting and stressful) with the gentle finesse necessary. What advice would you give new HR administrators entering the field that you can share from your experiences?
(LL): Be honest, fair and always treat others the way you want to be treated. We need to show compassion and dignity to help bring a trusting environment free of any wrongful discrimination or harassment. Try to always find what is best for the employee and the company at the same time. We need to earn the respect of our coworkers on all levels.
(JM): It’s obvious that HR administrators have a multitude of responsibilities to handle. And then there’s the open-door policy, which I’m sure can be distracting at times. What would be your advice on how to maintain focus throughout such a busy day executing all the tasks we just read about?
(LL): This is so true and I’ve had suggestions of putting notes on my door from time to time to come back at certain times, but that’s not me. If someone has a problem, I need to be free to speak with them when they need me. I think it’s important for the employees to know they are just as important as anything else I may be doing at the time. Somehow it all works out and I meet my deadlines.
(JM): In your literary piece you mentioned how important it is to keep employee morale up. What are some of the ways you would suggest going about doing this for businesses in general?
(LL): This is a hard one. It seems that money is usually the best way, so that’s where you have to get creative. I have found that activities help too. Sometimes getting people involved, to feel like they are part of the team, is a tough feat. You offer potlucks, games, contests, etc., but it’s hard convincing everyone that we need them. Once the employee realizes that we’re all the same, just doing our jobs and trying to have a little fun along the way, they will come around.
(JM): What is your favorite part about being an HR professional? Is there any story you can share from past experiences that have stuck with you and helped to reinforce your satisfaction about being a practitioner in the HR field?
(LL): My favorite part of HR, of course, is when I get to share “good” news with anyone. I try to help when I know someone is having a tough go. I’ve always tried to put myself in their shoes. I have called insurance companies, the IRS, landlords, and numerous other places on behalf of my employees to try to explain, or get some type of assistance for them. That’s when I feel the best. I love being able to make things a little better for someone.
One time an employee received a garnishment from the IRS and they were so distraught. I asked them to come to my office, we called the IRS (which we had to hold for quite some time) and after much explaining and digging up old records, we found the error and the IRS actually cancelled the garnishment in full. The employee was very timid and wouldn’t have called on their own, so I was very glad to help and they were very appreciative.