One colleague recently summed up HR as:

Human Resources isn’t a thing we do. It’s the thing that runs our business.”

Whether a business is a SME or a global brand people are always needed and where there are people, someone will always need to manage the business.

Whoever in a business is tasked with supporting and looking after people has big shoes to fill!

OK, let’s start by looking at an objective definition of what the HR department is responsible for:

“HR is primarily concerned with the management of people within organizations, focusing on policies and on systems.” (Source: Wikipedia)

This definition seems pretty generic. If we carry on reading, we learn that HR is specifically responsible for designing employee benefits, recruiting new people, performance appraisal, training and development, and managing pay and reward systems. That’s a lot of ground to cover! But it still leaves us asking: What does an HR manager actually do?

Human Resources Process - Careers, Ability, Hiring, Recruitment and Skills Training
I think the answer to this question requires a bit more investigation, and a bit more of a down to earth explanation. A recent survey by found the following results:

What does this mean then for those of you who already work in HR or who are considering a career in this sector. Well for a start, it means that a role in HR requires the ability to tackle large volumes of paperwork – that’s how you’ll be spending more than a fifth of your day. Of course, this doesn’t mean that a job in HR will let you hide away from social interaction all day; in between filling out forms, processing requests and checking through documents, you’ll be spending an almost equal amount of your time answering questions employees throw at you. Further to this, 16% of your time will be taken up dealing with tricky people issues, which leaves you with less than half of your day to actually do anything that your actual job description says you should be doing!

Will our HR superstars therefore continue to be spread across so many different areas? The Society for Human Resource Management thinks so. They predict that by 2025, HR will be broken into five separate roles. They include:

  • Virtual culture architect,
  • Organizational engineer,
  • Global talent scout, convener, and coach,
  • Data, talent, and technology integrator,
  • Social policy and community activist.

Integrator, coach, scout — see a theme emerging? Most of these new roles are based on bringing people together. But really, these areas aren’t new at all. That’s what HR people have been doing ever since 1901. Now, we’re just inventing new words to describe it all!