Human resources (HR) officers develop, advise on and implement policies relating to the effective use of personnel within an organisation. Their aim is to ensure that the organisation employs the right balance of staff in terms of skills and experience, and that training and development opportunities are available to employees to enhance their performance and achieve the employer’s business aims.
HR officers are involved in a range of activities required by organisations that employ people, whatever the size or type of business. These cover areas such as working practices, recruitment, pay, conditions of employment, negotiation with external work-related agencies, and equality and diversity.
Human resources officer typical work activities
An HR officer must have a clear understanding of their employer’s business objectives and be able to devise and implement policies which select, develop and retain the right staff needed to meet these objectives.
The HR profession has undergone some changes in recent years. There has been some movement away from staff welfare and administration-centred activities towards strategy and planning. HR departments are now expected to add value to the organisation they support. The exact nature of the work varies according to the organisation, but is likely to include:
- working closely with departments, increasingly in a consultancy role, assisting line managers to understand and implement policies and procedures;
- promoting equality and diversity as part of the culture of the organisation;
- liaising with a wide range of people involved in policy areas such as staff performance and health and safety;
- recruiting staff – this includes developing job descriptions and person specifications, preparing job adverts, checking application forms, shortlisting, interviewing and selecting candidates;
- developing and implementing policies on issues such as working conditions, performance management, equal opportunities, disciplinary procedures and absence management;
- preparing staff handbooks;
- advising on pay and other remuneration issues, including promotion and benefits;
- undertaking regular salary reviews;
- negotiating with staff and their representatives (for example, trade union officials) on issues relating to pay and conditions;
- administering payroll and maintaining employee records;
- interpreting and advising on employment law;
- dealing with grievances and implementing disciplinary procedures;
- developing with line managers HR planning strategies which consider immediate and long-term staff requirements;
- planning, and sometimes delivering, training, including inductions for new staff;
- analysing training needs in conjunction with departmental managers.