The bones of a company might well be its plant, equipment and telecommunications systems, but the life blood the holds the company together and makes it function is the people it employs. Not even the best equipment in the world is any use without the right people to operate it and no company can sell its products without the staff to contact its customers. People are the company and looking after them is a vital role; this is where the Human resources manager comes in.

Human resources managers are responsible for handling all aspect of personnel within the company. They look after the hiring and firing of staff, assigning staff to particular roles, staff training and staff compensation packages. Their skill and experience in performing this role is recognised within company as crucial to staff morale, the production process and the company’s business strategy.

In larger companies, human resources managers often specialise in a particular aspect of personnel work. There are some who handle recruitment and are responsible for hiring new staff. They work in coordination with allocation managers, another specialist human resources role, who have to allocate staff to departments that have specific needs. Others, meanwhile, deal with pay and finances while others specialise in dispute resolution and staff relations.

In small companies, human resources managers are effectively jacks-of-all-trades. They are responsible for recruitment, staff relations and staff allocation. They also have to ensure that the company complies with employment laws and other legislation relating to staff. It has been said that they are glue that holds the company together.

A common requirement for all human resources managers is that they have strong interpersonal skills. After all they spend much of their day attending meetings and interview current staff and prospective employees, dealing with all the problems that staff issues can throw up – personal disputes, job dissatisfaction, salary issues and the like.

These skills are invaluable when dealing with the more unpleasant aspects of personnel work – such as dismissing staff, handling complaints, explaining unpopular company policies, announcing bad news like suspension of pay rises and the like. Human resources managers, therefore, need to thick-skinned, as employees often feel threatened by them.

Aside from interpersonal skills, employers prefer their human resources managers to have at least a bachelor degree in a relevant subject. Preferred subjects are those that include general business, accounting, business law, economics and English. A master’s in human resource management, organisational studies or similar is also considered to be a worthwhile asset.

The human resources role has aspects common to many companies. Most, however, give additional training on the job to personnel to fit them for the company.

If you have the right qualifications and skills, you will find that a career in human resources is both challenging and varied. It offers great job satisfaction and is a very rewarding field that businesses cannot do without. But it can also lead to other opportunities for those who might want to switch careers in mid-stream. Career counselling, industrial psychology and labour relations are just a few of the possibilities. 

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