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The Functional Areas of Human Resources

New Focus HR has recently had the opportunity to recruit for a Human Resources Director for a local client.  The job is a fairly high level HR position requiring in depth experience in all of the functional areas of human resources.  For those of you who are not familiar with the functional areas they include: recruiting and staffing, benefits, compensation, employee relations, HR compliance, organizational design, training and development, human resource information systems (H.R.I.S.) and payroll.  Many of you are probably saying to yourself, “that is a wide array of areas and requires someone to have accomplished a tremendous amount of work in their career.”  My response to that is “yes.”  Human Resource Generalists, as they are frequently referred to, should have a wide variety of experiences in all of the functional areas of HR, so that they are better able to integrate all of those functions in with the mission, vision and business objectives of an organization.  Here is a brief description of what each of those functional areas may require of an HR Generalist.

Recruiting and Staffing – The HR professional will work with the hiring managers within an organization to develop an action plan for the hiring of a diverse workforce.  This may include, but may not limited to: sourcing for candidates in a creative manner; posting open jobs; screening resumes and applications; conducting telephone interviews; scheduling the in house interview; providing a tour of the facilities to the final applicants; conducting the appropriate background checks; recommending the appropriate compensation package; making the offer and preparing the offer letter and benefits information; conducting the new employee orientation program; and making sure that all new hires are enrolled in the company’s benefit programs.

Benefits – Coordination with the benefit brokers to annually review all employer-sponsored benefit plans for renewal and compliance; conducting open enrollment educational meetings with employees; making sure that employees are enrolled and terminated from each benefit program with each vendor, as appropriate; assisting managers with accident investigations and the coordination of workers’ compensation; completing the OSHA logs, as needed and posting when required; and tracking all paid time off, to include the paperwork for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other related benefits.

Compensation – Assisting hiring managers with the writing and updating of job descriptions and maintaining them annually; reviewing salary survey data to make sure that the company is paying employees competitively within the market; maintaining internal hierarchy with regards to pay; developing and maintaining a salary administration plan for the organization; making recommendations with regards to pay, merit increases, salary structure maintenance, etc.; writing and recommending variable pay plans; making sure that the organization is compliant with the various wage and hour laws; implementing and maintaining a creative performance evaluation system for all employees.

Employee Relations – The HR Generalist is one who maintains confidentiality with all employment-related matters within the organization. He/she promotes an “open door” environment wiith all employees and is an active “listener” to their needs and concerns without projecting a bias opinion or taking ownership for their issue.  He/she works with management to proactively resolve employee relations issues, conducts investigations and makes recommendations for resolution.  He/she works with management to document disciplinary actions and makes recommendation with regards to nonmonetary rewards and recognition.  The HR Generalist is actively involved in employee terminations and understands the unemployment claim and appeal process.  Most conduct exit interviews with terminating employees and provide information with regards to the continuation of benefits after employment.

HR Compliance – The HR professional makes sure that the organization is compliant with all employment-related laws and requirements from a federal, state and local perspective.  This may include making sure that the appropriate posters are posted and up-to-date; preparation and maintenance of all employee policies within the employee handbook; employee file maintenance; Employment Eligibility and Verification Form I-9 maintenance; and completion of all verifications of employment, reference checks, etc. for past and present employees.

Organizational Design – Strategically assisting the management team with furthering the mission, vision and business goals of the organization through a solid organizational structure is paramount.  The HR professional will maintain all organizational charts; make recommendations as to changes within the structure that would benefit the organization; understand how to manage the “white space” on the organizational charts; tracks turnover rates and reasons; develops career ladders within job classifications; is involved with succession planning, and promotes active employee engagement activities throughout the organization.

Training and Development – Recommends and may create and conduct training and development programs for the entire organization to include: anti-harassment and discrimination avoidance, diversity, customer service skills, business communication skills, etc. Works with managers to create and implement on-the-job training opportunities for all employees.  Tracks all training programs and employee participation and follows up with managers and employees to measure utilization of skills learned as well as evaluating additional training resources or needs.

Human Resource Information Systems (H.R.I.S.) and Payroll – Continually reviews the needs of the organization with regards to payroll and H.R.I.S. vendors and evaluates the needs for upgrades, new systems, etc.  Understands payroll laws and is able to process payroll and utilize the H.R.I.S., to the fullest extent

While the functional areas, as listed above, are the primary HR-related areas, there are others tasks within each area that could be added depending upon your organization.  I have definitely not listed them all here.

What competencies are represented by a good HR Generalist?  Most would tell you that it requires someone who likes people.  I would tell you that the most important competency is one who is able to recognize a problem and brings creative solutions to management.  The ability to work independently as well as within a team environment is essential and the ability to pay attention to detail while utilizing excellent verbal and written communication skills is required.  The ability to maintain confidentiality, be a good listener and possess strong coaching and counseling skills are all a given.  Most managers would tell you that a strong HR Generalist also has the ability to motivate and train employees at all levels. CEOs, Presidents, CCOs and CFOs want someone who is able to recognize that HR is not a cost center and is able to strategically provide a value add to the bottom line financial results of the organization.

So, if you are an HR Generalist, how do you rate?  If you have an HR Generalist in your organization, how do they rate?  If you don’t have an HR Generalist in your organization, what is missing?  Let us help you to determine what you need to make HR a value add in your organization.

For additional information, please contact New Focus HR at www.newfocushr.com.

Written by:  Kristen Deutsch, M.B.A., CCP






New Focus HR is a human resources consulting and training company that services all organizations. Our expert team collaborates with businesses to attract, motivate, retrain and retain their biggest assets, employees. While engaged with an organization, our focus is to find solutions that improve the company’s internal HR-related practices while increasing results at the same time! Our focus. Your results.