Administration & HR
Career insights: Become a HR Manager
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HR Manager explained
Do you enjoy working with people, solving problems, and mediating conflicts? If so, working towards becoming an HR manager could be your ideal career path. You’ll need to be a strong communicator, have good business acumen, the ability to be impartial and assess issues from all sides, and excel at overcoming complex challenges within the workplace.
If you succeed as an HR manager, you can expect to earn a high salary, particularly if you work in the private sector for a multinational corporation. We’ve compiled a thorough guide to help you decide if a career as an HR manager is right for you.
What is Human Resources?
The term Human Resources, often referred to as HR, broadly refers to the people (or human capital) who work in an organisation, business sector or economy. That said, people usually use the term HR to refer to a company’s or organisation’s human-resources department (HR department), which oversees the company’s people-related processes and culture.
People who work in an HR department oversee the management of various aspects of employment, including maintaining employment standards, ensuring that labour laws are obeyed, organising employee files and paperwork, settling disputes between employees, and assisting with recruitment.
What is a Human Resources manager?
HR manager is a role that oversees the entire HR department and ensures that it is running smoothly. They are often responsible for ensuring that an organisation is maintaining their commitment to their corporate culture, and following all relevant employment policies and laws.
HR managers do a variety of jobs, including administrative tasks, parsing legal documents, making hiring, termination, and recruitment decisions, planning rewards and benefits, and ensuring that employees are happy and healthy. Successful HR management attempts to coalesce all of the organisation’s goals and commitments to their corporate culture, and ensure that these principles are adhered to, and helping its people develop and grow.
In some companies, HR managers are invested in the day to day administrative tasks in order to ensure that employees are being treated well and all employment laws are being followed. If an employee has a grievance or conflict with another employee, they can often book a consultation with the HR manager in order to make a complaint or initiate a mediation process. They also work as a trusted advisor to managers at all levels of the organisation, and often sit in on all important meetings.
Nearly every industry and sector have an HR department, and require HR management. That means that if you are interested in HR, you can gain employment in almost any field that interests you.
What does an HR manager do?
Human Resource management is a varied and challenging field, and no two days are ever going to be the same. At its most simple, HR management is all about supporting the overall business to help an organisation deliver their strategy and vision while remaining within the confines of the law.
Maryanne Raasch is the HR manager at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, an iconic 5-star establishment located in London’s Hyde Park. In her view, “HR management is a multitasking role. You don’t get involved in just one area, you get involved in so many areas of the business and the employee lifecycle, which can include attracting people, strengthening the employer brand, recruitment, selection, developing talent and supporting business decisions.”
According to Audrey Horton, postgraduate course leader in HR management at Southampton Solent University, “human resources managers are integral to the success of companies in every industry… they are tasked with providing clear direction and guidance and are responsible for helping to generate a positive and encouraging working environment.”
What skills does an HR manager need?
In order to be qualified as an HR manager, you must have most or all of the following skills. Certain fields, such as accounting or software development, might also require specialist skills that will enable you to understand the company’s work.
- Empathy and a willingness to listen to all sides of an issue
- Good listening skills
- Basic accounting abilities in order to carry out payroll audits
- A deep understanding of the employment laws in the city and country in which you work
- Multitasking abilities in order to juggle multiple responsibilities at once
- An understanding of benefits and rewards
- A knowledge of recruitment and hiring software
- A sense of discretion and the ability to keep sensitive matters private
- Knowing how to terminate an employee in a legally compliant, fair, and compassionate manner
What can you expect in an everyday role?
Your everyday role as an HR manager will depend mainly on the size of your organisation, your specialties, and the industry in which you work. If you are an HR manager that specialises in learning and development, you likely won’t be involved in the generalist duties that the general HR manager will attend to, such as managing absences or mediating workplace grievances.
On a daily basis, an HR manager might do the following tasks:
- Collaborating with other managers, including those located in international offices
- Draft and post recruitment materials
- Assess CVs and arrange interviews for candidates
- Conduct reference checks on potential candidates
- Sit in on meetings at all levels of the organisation
- Carry out employee reviews
- Overseeing pension plans, payroll, and benefits
- Issue official warnings or disciplinary action
- Arranging training and mentorship opportunities for new employees
- Represent the company at trade shows and hiring events
- Arrange and conduct mediation between employees experiencing conflict
- Meeting with employees to listen to their grievances and complaints
- Planning and distributing rewards and incentives
- Overseeing employee attendance and dealing with excessive absences
- Administrating paperwork, including employment contracts, starter packs, and formal termination notices
- Handling confidential information and paperwork in a safe, discreet, and honest way
What qualifications does a HR manager need?
If you want to work in the HR field, you need to gain the right qualifications. By independently developing your skills, you can show your future employer that you are ambitious, driven, and willing to work hard for what you want. Taking an online HR course is a great way to find out if this career path is right for you and will give you an impressive entry on your CV.
There are no set qualifications for a career in HR management, as every organisation will have their own requirements. However, there are common requirements that you will find across different industries.
Certain entry level positions on your way to a career as an HR manager, such as an HR Assistant, only require four or five GCSEs to get started, as well as previous experience in administration.
If you are hoping to go straight into an HR Officer, you will likely need to also have a university degree or a Higher National Certificate or Higher National Diploma (HNC/HND). For competitive roles, you will likely need to have a degree at a 2:1 or above. While a degree in any discipline will be sufficient, qualifications in HR Management, psychology, or business will be a boon.
If you are serious about your career in HR management, it is also a good idea to seek out accredited professional qualifications from the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD). This will ensure that you are up to date with all current best practices in the industry. Of course, you can also pursue a Post Graduate Diploma in HR or MSc/MA in HR. These advanced qualifications will mark you as an expert in the field.
The most important step on your career path? Get your foot in the door and get hands on experience.
How much can you earn?
Human Resources Managers in the UK tend to earn a good living, with the average annual salary coming in at £42,964 (based on an Indeed survey of 6,902 people). This can reach more than 6 figures annually based on experience, education, productivity bonuses and the industry in which you work.
What are the career progression opportunities in HR management?
It is very rare to enter the HR field in a management capacity, unless you are making a lateral move from a management position in a similar field. Most people work their way up to a management role, following this career progression. You might work through this progression in a linear way, or move up, down, and laterally over time.
- Human resources assistant – An entry-level position that will include helping the HR team carry out quotidian tasks.
- Human resources officer – An office-based role that helps an organisation reach their business objectives and implement staff policies.
- Recruitment consultant – Help an organisation recruit and retain employees.
- Training and development officer – A role that helps equip candidates and employees with the training and education opportunities they require to excel.
- Management consultant – Working as an independent consultant to advise organisations on how they can improve their performance.
- Occupational psychologist – Use your expert psychological knowledge to help an organisation’s employees work to their highest potential and improve their job satisfaction.
- HR manager – Managing and overseeing an HR team in all aspects of their work.
Are there any unions for HR managers?
Unions are less common than they have ever been and are most common in the trades. In fact, the rise of Human Resources has often been cited as the reason why many unions have crumbled. HR teams attempt to make things as good as possible for employees, ensure that all employment laws are followed and prevent management abuses. Seeing as these are often the main issues that unions deal with, some have speculated that a robust HR team can minimise the need for union representation.
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Humphreys, J. (2013). Power of unions has crumbled with rise of HR. [online] The Irish Times. Available at: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/power-of-unions-has-crumbled-with-rise-of-hr-1.962110.
Indeed (n.d.). Human Resources Manager Salaries in the United Kingdom | Indeed.co.uk. [online] www.indeed.co.uk. Available at: https://www.indeed.co.uk/salaries/human-resources-manager-Salaries.
Lucas, S. (2017). 10 Skills Every HR Manager Needs to Succeed at Work. [online] The Balance Careers. Available at: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/skills-hr-managers-need-to-succeed-4138124.
Monster (n.d.). What qualifications are important in HR? [online] Monster Career Advice. Available at: https://www.monster.co.uk/career-advice/article/what-qualifications-are-important-in-hr.
Prospects (n.d.). Human resources jobs | Prospects.ac.uk. [online] www.prospects.ac.uk. Available at: https://www.prospects.ac.uk/jobs-and-work-experience/job-sectors/recruitment-and-hr/human-resources-jobs.