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Talk to me about jobs in HR

(27 Posts)
Confused24 Wed 21-Feb-18 08:26:52

I was thinking of spending a few years just plodding along in my job but it’s starting to grate on me already so I’m thinking start a family then swiftly move on. I miss the personnel side of running a business and am considering my next few moves. I’m thinking I would enjoy HR so anyone who works in HR can you give me some insight into what your day looks like and any tips on what would help me secure a job in HR. Thank you

Brokenbiscuit Wed 21-Feb-18 08:31:36

I'm not in HR myself, but genuinely don't understand why anyone would want to work in this area. OK, maybe in recruitment or something, but most of HR is dealing with such negative stuff! I remember our HR Director a while ago saying that you just see the worst side of everybody!

And the bits that aren't negative are surely just procedural and not that interesting?

Apologies to anyone who works in HR and loves it. Each to their own and all that! I just don't get it!

treaclesoda Wed 21-Feb-18 08:34:26

HR people enjoy the negative stuff though don't they? The people I know who work in HR love the power of getting to discipline people etc. I know that when I was younger I was desperate to work in HR but over the years realised that I wasn't ruthless enough.

treaclesoda Wed 21-Feb-18 08:35:23

But that's ok, someone has to do it, I'm just glad it's not me.

MrsDc7 Wed 21-Feb-18 08:38:24

I work in HR and I love it. The responses above don't reflect the reality of it at all. Yes we deal with some negative stuff but actually a lot of it is helping people progress in their careers, taking care of their wellbeing, recruitment, training, the general admin side of it all and of course creating strategy to get the best out of everyone. The negative stuff such as disciplinary meetings and greviances takes up little of my time in comparison. If there is tons of negative stuff there is a larger problem to be dealt with. I did a degree in HRM followed by a masters and am level 7 CIPD. I love it and would recommend it if you think you will enjoy it

MrsDc7 Wed 21-Feb-18 08:39:29

I should also say I waited until after I'd had children to start as well

Brokenbiscuit Wed 21-Feb-18 08:43:22

Actually treacle, a lot of the HR people I know don't enjoy that side of things. Quite a few have left HR because of it. But I'm sure you're right, there are probably some who do get a kick out of it.

It isn't even the HR people who have the power in most cases anyway. It is the manager that disciplines an employee, and the HR person is usually there to ensure that the right procedures are followed.

The manager, though, then gets to move onto the more positive aspects of their role. The HR person just moves on to the next disciplinary/capability/sickness absence/grievance process. It's relentless!

ruddynorah Wed 21-Feb-18 08:47:33

I'm an HR manager but gladly not a Generalist so I don't deal with all the rules and regs stuff. I looks great learning and development, all the nice fun stuff! I plan the training for the year ahead, train up facilitators, do some facilitating myself, organise careers events, do development coaching with people, psychometric testing, team development days, and I do recruitment for some of our leadership development schemes. I love it!

Thenewphaseofmylife Wed 21-Feb-18 08:49:02

I'm loving the previous posts. I work in HR and have done for donkeys years. Firstly it's a business discipline like any other - instead of computers in IT or numbers in finance we deal with people.

You are the bridge between the business and the employees and vice versa, and yes this means dealing with the 'negative' issues but also the positive. And yes a lot of process, documentation and more process! For me I enjoy both sides. Positive - Occupational Health - enabling people to return to work after serious mental health problems, thinking outside the box to get a desk / chair set up for someone with a back problems, working with 5 different people to work out flexible working patterns that suit them and their department etc etc. The negative are the wingers and employees who think we owe them for turning up and being paid. If I am sacking someone or involved in disciplinary action I always make sure that it is done in the fairest way possible whilst meeting the business needs and that if possible the employee learns something.

You can specialise if you find an area that really interests such as reward,recruitment, learning and development and so on.

I think if the power of disciplining people, helping people or any attraction to knowing information about people is a main motivator then HR is not the right career choice.

Hope that helps.

Brokenbiscuit Wed 21-Feb-18 08:52:55

I guess a lot depends on the organisation, MrsD. I've never worked anywhere where HR has a real role in promoting staff wellbeing or helping people to progress their careers. Where I work, that's the role of the line manager and the staff development team. Their involvement in recruitment is also minimal - just a bit of admin generally.

A lot of the people I know who went into HR did so because they wanted to promote staff welfare and career development etc, but they found that the reality was very different. Glad to hear that it isn't the same everywhere!

Brokenbiscuit Wed 21-Feb-18 08:55:26

Interesting - we have separate departments for staff development and occupational health, so the bits that people are saying that they enjoy. No wonder our HR staff are all so unhappy!

treaclesoda Wed 21-Feb-18 10:25:03

I plan the training for the year ahead, train up facilitators, do some facilitating myself, organise careers events, do development coaching with people, psychometric testing, team development days, and I do recruitment for some of our leadership development schemes. I love it!

I work in a lovely place now where I'd say this is the sort of thing that HR do. I worked for many years in a huge business, with tens of thousands of employees, and none of these things were done at all. There was no training, career development, coaching etc for staff. HR's role seemed to be pretty much to find ways to get rid of people who had the audacity to become ill or disabled but to do it in a way that made it impossible to claim unfair dismissal. They were good at it too.

And the HR people I know in other large companies take a similar view, that's what they thrive on. No such thing as ill health, it only happens to people who are workshy.

I thought the place I work now was some sort of anomaly, but maybe it's the other way round, that the other HR people I know are the ones that are the anomalies and most HR functions are more like where I work now.

ProfYaffle Wed 21-Feb-18 18:43:26

I'm in HR in the public sector and love it. I do think it makes a difference what sort of organisation you work for. At least I know that our benefits are generous and the basic intention is to treat staff well (even when they can't see it!)

Eg, yes we do sometimes dismiss people for ill health but only when they've been away for a prolonged period of time and there's no prospect of return. I had to speak to external company the other day who told me their policy was to dismiss after 10 days absence in a year - no exceptions. I'd struggle to work somewhere like that.

Saying that though, the main thrust of what we do is about keeping the organisation out of court and making sure we're compliant in how we proceed in sometimes very complex situations. A solid employment law knowledge is essential.

flowery Thu 22-Feb-18 09:27:17

I am grin at the idea of someone going into HR because they like the power aspect of disciplining people!

HR generally has very little power at all. HR don't do the disciplining. Management say we want to discipline this person, HR advise how to do it. HR don't as a rule conduct disciplinary hearings, they attend and advise.

If HR think the person shouldn't be disciplined, management can say no. If HR think someone should be disciplined, management can say no. Good HR people give good advice and can influence managers effectively to take the best decisions when it comes to disciplining (and everything else), but it's influencing other people's decisions, not exercising power.

If you want power when it comes to managing people, being a line manager and progressing as high up as possible is the way to achieve that.

There is a lot of 'negative' stuff in HR, yes. But being able to influence managers to take the best decisions possible and to conduct that stuff in the fairest way possible is a positive to that aspect of the job.

Helping managers get the best out of their staff is a rewarding thing to do, and that happens in loads of ways, from day to day performance management guidance to learning and development initiatives and practical team management tips. Encouraging them to have more of an open mind when it comes to recruitment and promotion (and seeing that pay off) is good. There's loads of good stuff.

I've not worked 'in house' in HR for more than 10 years now though. I moved into self-employment as an HR consultant for small businesses which I found more rewarding than working in house for a variety of reasons. Now I do very little of that either and instead support other HR professionals doing it, but I keep a few clients to 'keep my hand in'.

In terms of getting in HR it's usual to go in as an HR administrator-type role and work up from there, so having some good general office administration experience is a good start.

Experience managing people yourself is I think a fantastic thing to have as an HR person - as you climb the HR ladder I think it's hard to advise managers with credibility about how to manage their teams effectively if you've never actually done it yourself. I managed retail teams before going into HR and although I didn't enjoy it at all, I have no doubt that 'on the ground' experience of managing staff in an operational environment was a very valuable thing to have obtained before moving into HR.

CharlieandLolaCat Thu 22-Feb-18 09:56:05

Seems there is a lot of misconceptions about what HR is in the posts above with a couple of notable exceptions. I work in HR and have done for 15+ yrs. My role is to enable the business to achieve its aims through its people. I therefore spend my time working with business leaders to establish where we're aiming for and what we need from our people to get us there. From this, how do we ensure they have the right skills/experience to deliver, that they are sufficiently motivated both financially and from a work/life balance perspective, so looking at the whole person as well as ensuring that structurally the business is set up for optimum delivery. I don't deal in day to day disciplinaries/grievances unless they are at a senior level but will talk about what good looks like and how we ensure that we are assessing our people appropriately.

To be honest, quite a lot of crap is talked about HR, people think I am there to hold their hand, to manage their people and to deal with their shit, that's just not the case and while of course, I need to know that stuff and I am technically proficient it is not the be all and end all.

In terms of how I got in, I got in to HR in my late 20s from an office manager/admin background, as an HR Co-ordinator and then moved up from there, currently a Head of HR through a generalist pathway. I have a masters in HR Management gained through evening study and I am an MCIPD - to be honest you can get a long way without the HRM Masters and the CIPD but if you want to move about then you need it. If you really want to fly then I would suggest some time in Reward, you absolutely need to understand the money side of it. Good luck.

treaclesoda Thu 22-Feb-18 11:52:29

HR generally has very little power at all. HR don't do the disciplining

I have been in the unfortunate position of being disciplined by my employer (it was ill health related, not misconduct) and my manager didn't get involved at all. They did not speak to me at any stage of the proceedings, all correspondence and meetings were with HR. That was in a large company.

flowery Thu 22-Feb-18 12:31:28

"I have been in the unfortunate position of being disciplined by my employer (it was ill health related, not misconduct) and my manager didn't get involved at all. They did not speak to me at any stage of the proceedings, all correspondence and meetings were with HR. That was in a large company."

Obviously there are going to be exceptions, and are sometimes going to be managers who get away with 'ducking out' of the tricky stuff and getting HR to handle it instead.

However your own manager's lack of involvement in the process stuff doesn't mean HR made the decision to discipline you. That decision will have been sanctioned by management, either by your own manager or someone else higher up. HR can't just descend and discipline employees as they fancy against a manager's will.

treaclesoda Thu 22-Feb-18 12:36:53

That's not what HR told me at the time. My own manager knew nothing about it when I received the letter. HR said it was company policy, disciplinary after X number of days sick leave, and it was their decision whether or not to proceed.

flowery Thu 22-Feb-18 12:47:12

In that case that's an automatic trigger rather than HR exercising power and disciplining people against manager's will isn't it?

I'm not a fan of those types of automatic decisions myself, but the decision to implement that system will certainly have been signed off by Powers That Be rather than limited to the HR team.

treaclesoda Thu 22-Feb-18 12:56:19

Ok, fair enough. It certainly felt like HR, as they were the ones involved in it all, and it was the HR manager who announced that 'he' had brought the policy in. I took it at face value because that's how they explained it to me.

treaclesoda Thu 22-Feb-18 12:58:32

I put 'he' in inverted commas because when it was announced he very much made it sound like it was an HR decision.

greendale17 Thu 22-Feb-18 13:01:19

HR people tend to be full of their own self importance, looking down on the workforce as minions that they can treat like dirt. Their priority is to management.

flowery Thu 22-Feb-18 13:23:43

He may have brought the policy in with the approval of senior management. But ultimately if someone sufficiently high up in your own line management chain kicked off about you being disciplined because of an automated trigger system, it wouldn't have happened.

Anyway, as I'm sure you realise, your own experience doesn't translate to HR wielding power generally, because that genuinely isn't the case, and anyone looking for that as a feature of their profession needs to look elsewhere! Nothing more irritating for HR than being overruled by directors who won't do as they're told! winkgrin

Confused24 Thu 22-Feb-18 16:51:24

Thank you for all the reply’s. It’s interesting to hear different perspectives. I managed a branch for a large company and if I wanted a power trip I would have stayed there! It’s interesting to hear the different paths and qualifications you hold. I am studying law at the moment and had intended a solicitor route but I can’t see how I would be able to get experience and still be able to pay the bills. I have a few options available but your advice is very much appreciated! Lots to think about with gain8ng experience and possible qualifications

RoryAndLogan Thu 22-Feb-18 17:03:40

I wouldn't want to work in it I don't think, unless in a huge multi national where there would be interesting roles like diversity etc. Everywhere I've worked the other departments have really looked down on them and they were one of the lowest paid areas (apart from the directors who seem to rake it in).

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