In line with Human Rights Month, and with our theme of showing the ways that you care, we’re profiling Human Resources as a career choice. We’re helping you to find out whether this field is for you!
When you work in HR, you’re working closely with a company’s most valuable assets — its people! HR professionals are front and centre when it comes to protecting the rights of employees and employers. It makes sense then, that you need to be a people’s person to do your job successfully.
Let’s dig further into the type of interpersonal skills you need to work in HR.
You need to be caring, and sensitive to privacy
The HR department is often the first place that employees turn to when they are experiencing problems at work. You therefore need to be caring, compassionate and able to listen to an employee’s concerns. As an HR professional, you will have to deal with a number of different scenarios related to this.
Some of these scenarios could include:
- Dealing with extended sick leave requests.
- Being understanding towards employees who are going through a difficult time in their personal lives (e.g., the loss of a loved one, relationship problems or any other problems).
- Acting on complaints that an employee may have about their working environment (e.g. inappropriate behaviour from colleagues, an unsafe workspace or alleged unfair treatment from managers).
These issues need to be handled sensitively. Most employees do not want these types of issues revealed to other staff members, so it is up to you to take the appropriate action while respecting the employee’s privacy.
But you need to have a ‘thick skin’ too!
While you need to be caring, you also need to work within your company’s HR policies and ensure that they are enforced.
You may, for example have to:
- Decline an employees’ sick leave request if it wasn’t submitted correctly.
- Give written warnings to employees who have broken company rules.
- Be involved in decisions about terminating an employee’s contract if they have committed a serious offense or if they have already been given a final warning and transgress again.
You need a ‘thick skin’ to deal with many of these situations, as they could have a very real impact on the livelihoods and wellbeing of the people involved. However, at the same time, employees should understand that there are rules that need to be followed. And if they have broken those rules, then action needs to be taken.
So if you care about people, but can still make tough decisions when needed, then you should do well in HR! The next question to ask is …. what careers are available to you?
What career options are available in Human Resources?
After you’ve finished studying HR, these are the possible careers you can work towards:
- HR Officer
- HR Manager
- Training & Development Practitioner
- Labour Relations Officer
For more HR jobs and information about how to kick-start your HR career, click here.