They’re the strangers that come in to fix employee problems and workplace issues; the faceless department upstairs in charge of morale and performance reviews. But they’re also the team taken for granted when the business is running smoothly, tirelessly working behind the scenes to hold the business together.
If a business is a machine, then human resources (HR) is the grease that keeps it well oiled. How an organisation manages its people has a strong bearing on how they view their work and their employer – which, in turn, affects their attitudes and productivity.
With a trend towards streamlined management and work practices, the last two decades have seen an explosion in HR as an industry and profession, with lots of jobs ripe for the picking for those with the aptitude and the qualifications.
Forget about having to be a ‘people’ person or a cold-hearted professional. Candidates for this field need to be energetic, patient, natural leaders, determined, open-minded and customer-focused.
With that in mind, here are five excellent reasons to consider making HR your vocation.
From WHS coordinator to talent manager, HR positions can be found across all industries, mainly in medium-to-large companies. If you want to work in-house, you’ll be able to have your pick of employer from private sector companies, including banks, retail, tourism, construction and law firms, to not-for-profits and government.
Some companies choose to outsource their HR processes, making HR and recruitment consultancies another big source of employment.
The industry encompasses everything from employment consulting to career counselling, job redesign, learning and development, and remuneration – so when we say there’s plenty of opportunity, we mean it!
And, once you’ve developed base knowledge in the industry, you can open your career up to specialising in niche areas such as Work Health and Safety (WHS) and recruitment.
HR professionals also have great long-term job prospects – both in Australia and offshore!
A lot of jobs fall under the umbrella of ‘human resources’. But a quick look at some of the roles and responsibilities involved in HR will tell you that it’s a multifaceted industry where you can work as either a generalist or a specialist in a specific area.
Your day-to-day tasks can take you from recruiting talented people, to facilitating training and development and changing management strategies. With HR such an expansive industry, the scope for career diversity and expansion is enormous.
Whatever your specific role, you will be integral in creating a positive, motivating work environment where staff morale is high and production is optimal, balancing the needs of employees and your organisation.
The effect of HR management on an organisation’s productiveness, efficiency and culture is often subtle, but can’t be overstated. Getting the right people into the business, training them and ensuring smooth communications and relationships all have a huge influence on a company’s success. If you get these things right, it will make the organisation one where quality people will want to work.
That means that as an HR professional, you’re in a position to make a real, palpable difference. You could change recruitment and training methods, create new communication channels, implement incentive strategies to drive good performance, facilitate close working relationships across the business, and boost productivity and profits by ensuring the wellbeing of your staff.
In other words, you can make a real difference.
While HR does involve specialised knowledge about employment law, employee contracts and change management, when it comes down to it, HR is all about people.
According to the Australian Human Resources Institute, 34 per cent of people leave their job because they are bored; 32 per cent due to not being promoted; 27 per cent due to poor pay, and 25 per cent due to a poor work–life balance.
All these factors contribute to wellbeing, motivation and productivity – an employee will feel under-appreciated if looked over for promotion; feel unfairly treated if they’re paid less than they’re worth; under-motivated if not given responsibility and purpose, and disrespected if work demands overly impinge on their life.
HR is therefore about figuring out what makes people tick. Having an insight into what motivates people, their values and attitudes to work and management, all helps you design and implement the workplace systems that will be most effective.
And that can be challenging, because you’re dealing with distinct personalities with different approaches to challenges and problems.
So if you are a people person, there’s a good chance you’ll love your work and enjoy the challenges of dealing with different personalities. You’ll not just be helping the business; you’ll be driving improved wellbeing for its staff.
HR has traditionally been a field that you can enter from other areas, such as management, administration, law and recruitment.
A tertiary HR qualification will develop your fundamental HR skills and increase your chances of getting a job. Grasping the theories and methodologies of human resource management will help you then decide whether you’re more inclined to specialise or continue to hone your generalist skills.
These days there’s a creeping movement towards integrating an understanding of HR practices into management itself. HR knowledge, skills and qualifications are becoming transferable to other roles – not just those labelled as HR. If you’re looking for a career in management down the track, your experience and qualifications in HR are going to be valuable assets.
If you’re thinking about going headfirst into an HR career, these are some useful attributes to possess:
Best of luck!