HR Mavericks

Eddy’s HR Mavericks Encyclopedia

Human Resources Manager

Human resource managers have one of the most unique and important jobs within the company. In this article we’ll explore what HR managers do on a daily basis, the value they add to their organizations, and some tips for becoming an HR manager.

What Is a Human Resource Manager?

Human resource managers (or HR managers) are the people who lead HR functions at their companies. Most often, they’re well-organized, task-focused, strategic thinkers who play an outsized role in the success of their company. The role of HR is growing and becoming increasingly more important as business leaders see the value it can add. So, let’s break down exactly what human resource managers do and how they can help take their companies from good to great.

Why Human Resource Managers Are Beneficial to Companies

Human resource managers are responsible for people, processes, culture, organizational structure, misconduct, benefits, and so much more. Later in this article we’ll go deeper into what HR managers do on a daily basis, but first let’s take a look at some of the general contributions they make to the workforce. Here’s how HR managers strengthen their companies:

Enhance the Employee Experience

To avoid turnover and keep employees engaged, it’s critical that every team member has a great experience. Great HR managers spend a lot of time thinking about ways to improve the experience for each employee in the company. Throughout every stage of the employee lifecycle, human resources managers ensure that people are being helped and supported. For example, when new hires are onboarded, the HR manager plays a pivotal role in helping them adjust. This is important because onboarding plays a huge part in an employee’s decision to stay with the company long-term. When onboarding goes well, it can improve retention by 82%. When it goes poorly, you’ll see turnover, and you’ll see it fast. Over 20% of employee turnover takes place within 45 days of the hire date. Of course, the employee experience goes far beyond the onboarding process, and HR managers are there every step of the way. They can provide incentives—ranging from bonuses and stock options to praise and recognition—to keep workers performing at a high level.

Create Replicable Processes

So much of HR is creating and maintaining replicable processes to streamline the work. It’s no secret that the HR profession is full of tasks that are constantly repeated. Things like running payroll, managing time-off balances, making new hires, terminating employees, and tracking performance should all have defined processes. When it comes to these repeated tasks, human resource managers take charge of defining and documenting processes. They don’t stop there—after defining processes, they teach others so that things can run smoothly no matter who is doing a task. That way, even if the HR manager isn’t around (we all need a vacation once in a while, right?) the office will still run smoothly and efficiently.

Help Maintain an Ethical Environment

HR managers find themselves in an interesting position. They work for the company and often report to the executive team, but they are primarily an advocate for the employees. Since HR managers stand in the middle ground between executives and employees, they play a crucial role in making sure the company is committed to ethics. Great HR managers earn the trust of employees by keeping the company honest, calling out inappropriate behavior, and acting as a moral compass when it comes to decisions regarding employee salary, benefits, schedules, and more.

Build Teams Through Strong Leadership

Being a great HR manager means taking a leadership role within the company, serving as somebody that employees can look to as an example. One area where they stand out is strategic leadership. Many companies are now expecting a shift toward strategic HR, and HR managers can be on the front lines of this movement. Strategic HR goes beyond the completion of daily tasks and common to-dos. It’s all about the long-term aims and interests of the business and how the HR department can be involved in achieving those goals.

Create and Shape Work Culture

Every business has a culture—something that goes beyond job descriptions and tasks. Company culture is all about how employees feel when they’re at work, the values embraced by the business, and more. HR managers help to enhance company culture by making new employees feel welcome and capable, creating performance incentives, and planning training sessions and events to create a safe and inclusive atmosphere. Each day, they observe what’s going on in the office and act to make sure that the culture there is inviting, inclusive, and enjoyable. They work hard to create a place where employees enjoy spending time and where they look forward to coming to work.

Responsibilities of Human Resource Managers

Human Resource managers have a lot to do. The responsibilities are nearly endless, and there is often not a clear link between the tasks they complete each day. Their day-to-day tasks can include responsibilities in completely different areas of work. The roles and responsibilities of a Human Resource manager are numerous and will vary depending upon the size of the organization. This article will focus specifically on HR managers working in smaller companies of 200 employees or fewer. Below is a list of tasks and responsibilities you’re likely to oversee as an HR manager:
  • Recruiting potential candidates
  • Hiring and onboarding
  • Designing and administering orientations
  • Organizing employee trainings
  • Managing payroll (PTO, vacation time, paychecks, etc.)
  • Planning company parties and celebrations
  • Establishing company culture and recognition programs
  • Following through with disciplinary action
  • Administering company benefits
  • Building org-charts and forecasting future employee growth

Recruiting and Hiring

One of the most critical responsibilities of a human resource manager is to fill the company with great people. In an article written for Forbes, Ekaterina Walter says that “your company is truly only as great as the people who embody the mission of your organization.” Without great people, you cannot have a great company. If people are the most important resource within a company, then the employees you choose to hire will greatly affect the success of the business. HR managers at small companies will likely be involved in the recruiting and hiring process. This may include creating job descriptions and posting job opportunities to online boards, reviewing resumes as candidates apply, conducting interviews (over the phone or in-person), and scheduling interviews for hiring managers or executives.

New Employee Onboarding and Orientation

Once HR managers have found the perfect hire, it’s time to help the new employee navigate the onboarding process and get oriented with their new company. For better or for worse, paperwork is part of a human resource manager’s job, and onboarding involves paperwork. They’ll ensure that the new hire completes mandatory government documents such as the I-9 and W-4 forms, and new hires may also have to sign company-related documents such as non-disclosure or non-compete agreements. Additionally, if the company offers health benefits, the HR manager helps the new hire navigate the paperwork so they can start their insurance coverage and/or be able to contribute to an HSA. All this paperwork must be kept on file and stored securely when completed. Some documents, like the I-9 form, must be stored for years even after an employee’s termination. To make the employee’s onboarding experience less monotonous and more informative, an HR manager should actively participate in an employee’s orientation. This could mean reviewing the company mission and history, giving an office tour, explaining company values and culture, or introducing the new hire to different people and departments on their first day of work.

Developing and Overseeing Employee Trainings

HR managers are expected to oversee essential trainings, certifications, and instruction for the employees of an organization. For many companies, this may include yearly trainings on sexual harassment policies, diversity and inclusion, or productivity and time management. Other organizations may have industry-specific training or certifications that need to be maintained by employees in order to keep their job. Examples include food handler’s permits, OSHA, CPR certification, and many others.

Managing Payroll

Some companies will have a specific payroll manager who manages the company payroll, while others will outsource it to a third party. However, many small businesses have their HR manager take on the responsibility of managing company payroll. Payroll is a function of multiple inputs. It requires tracking the number of hours worked for hourly employees, tracking vacation time or sick time, knowing the salary figures for full-time workers, and understanding deductions for various taxes or benefits. For HR managers at small companies, having a good payroll software helps immensely.

Disciplinary Action

It’s unfortunate, but the HR department is likely best known for being a department of discipline. Although disciplinary actions only play a small part in the day-to-day of an HR manager, it is definitely an important area of the job. HR managers are usually in charge of creating or maintaining an employee handbook or a company code of conduct. These documents will lay out the expectations the employer has for employees. When rules are broken or expectations are not met, it often lies in the hands of the human resource manager to issue warnings (either verbal or written), disrupt and discipline inappropriate behavior, and even terminate fellow employees. Any and all incidents should be brought to the HR manager’s attention so they can conduct a thorough investigation and understand the rules that were broken. This investigation will involve interviewing employees, managers, and others to gather all the information before moving forward on a decision.

Administering Company Benefits

Most companies offer a variety of benefits to employees that goes beyond monetary compensation. HR managers will likely be involved in creating benefits packages for the employees in the company. These may include, but are not limited to, benefits such as health insurance, life insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, commuter benefits, wellness benefits, home office reimbursements, cell phone plans, and many more. The most common benefits revolve around health, vision, and dental insurance. It’s the responsibility of the human resource manager to work with health care brokers to pick the plan that best suits the needs of their employees. HR managers should plan to complete a fair amount of due diligence as they study up on the industry and discover the various plans that exist in the market.

Organizational Development and Forecasting

This may be a less common responsibility for HR managers in smaller companies, but if their company is growing and expects to continue to grow, this will likely be a chief concern for years to come. As organizations grow, they must be able to forecast the number of employees they’ll need in the future to sustain their growth. HR managers can help department heads with these forecasts and create budgets for financial teams so they can better understand the cost of growth. HR managers can also play a role in building org-charts. It’s important to uphold clear chains of command and simple reporting structures despite a rapid increase in employee count.

Skills of Great HR Managers

What makes a great HR manager? There are lots of skills involved, but we’ll take a look at the top three.

Interpersonal Skills

Above all else, HR managers should have a talent for communicating well and showing care and concern for others. They should also be approachable, understanding, and ethical. Because HR is all about the humans behind the business, HR managers need to have top-notch interpersonal skills to thrive in the industry.


From conducting initial job interviews to planning company events, HR managers are in charge of many different aspects of keeping the company running smoothly and enhancing work culture. Handling these varied responsibilities well requires organizational skills, time-management, and an ability to streamline workflows.

Problem-Solving Abilities

HR managers will come across many interesting situations over the course of any given day. Whether they’re faced with disciplining an employee or coming up with a new way to motivate a team, HR managers should be true problem solvers who use their creativity and ingenuity to create effective solutions.

Tips for Becoming a Human Resource Manager

Being a great HR manager is not easy. The field of human resources is in need of talented, energetic people to take on the challenge. Since there’s not one clear path to becoming an HR manager, the following sections will simply provide some ideas. If you’re interested in becoming a human resource manager, here are three things to keep in mind:

Tip 1: Gain the Appropriate Education and Experience

Companies usually require their candidates to have at least a bachelor’s degree in human resources or business management. Some prefer them to have a master’s degree, depending on the position. As with most managerial positions, businesses like to see that you’ve had at least 3-5 years of experience in the field.

Tip 2: Obtain Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

HR Managers are required to obtain certain professional certifications. A few examples include aPHR, aPHRi, PHR, SPHR, GPHR, etc. Some require previous educational experience while others do not. You will need to find which certifications are right for you and the career path you’re wanting to follow.

Tip 3: Develop Skills and Abilities

While people skills are going to be the most valuable in this position, there are some other abilities that will also be incredibly helpful to you as you begin preparing. Some of these abilities are:
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Active listening
  • Ability to support and motivate employees
  • A solid understanding of laws surrounding employment
  • Organizational skills
  • Ability to stay calm in stressful situations, such as disciplinary hearings
  • A genuine interest in improving the workplace


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