What is a Human Resource Manager?

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Because the structure of human resources departments depends heavily on so many factors: company size, employee distribution, public versus private companies, and so on, the roles within human resources tend to be less well-defined in a broad scope. With some positions, like human resource manager, the description is typically based on the functions of that role.

What is a Human Resource Manager? 

Not too long ago, I talked about the function and responsibilities of a human resources business partner or HRBP. A human resource manager is different and has two basic functions: overseeing department functions and managing employees. That’s why human resources managers must be well-versed in each of the human resources disciplines – compensation and benefits, training and development, employee relations, and recruitment and selection.

Typically a salaried position, human resource managers may or may not oversee and supervise a staff of employees. As generalists in their roles, these individuals often do a bit of everything including benefits, compensation, recruiting and handling employee relations issues on a daily basis. The responsibilities in this role are very broad, from location forecasting and budgeting, recruiting and interviewing, compliance to overseeing EEOC investigations and claims. HR Managers sometimes process payroll but are less administrative than coordinator or specialist roles. Often they are cross-trained in the administrative tasks for redundancy and in case of emergencies.

The responsibilities of the HR position can be specific, but should also include some broader tasks such as forecasting and budgeting. Candidates with experience in human resources, starting with entry-level roles, tend to do well in HR manager positions, as they have a background in administrative tasks like payroll and employee relations, as well as departmental management and direct report management skills.

Types of Human Resource Managers

According to the Bureau of Labor & Statistics, the following are examples of types of human resources managers:

Labor relations directors, also called employee relations managers, oversee employment policies in union and nonunion settings. They draw up, negotiate, and administer labor contracts that cover issues such as grievances, wages, benefits, and union and management practices. They also handle labor complaints between employees and management, and they coordinate grievance procedures.

Payroll managers supervise the operations of an organization’s payroll department. They ensure that all aspects of payroll are processed correctly and on time. They administer payroll procedures, prepare reports for the accounting department, and resolve any payroll problems or discrepancies.

Recruiting managers, sometimes called staffing managers, oversee the recruiting and hiring responsibilities of the human resources department. They often supervise a team of recruiters, and some take on recruiting duties when they try to fill high-level positions. They must develop a recruiting strategy that helps them meet the staffing needs of their organization and compete effectively for the best employees.

Human Resource Managers Are Growing in Numbers

Additionally, BLS reports that employment of human resources managers is projected to grow 9 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment growth depends largely on the performance and growth of individual companies.

As new companies form and organizations expand their operations, they will need more human resources managers to oversee and administer their programs. Human resources managers also will be needed to ensure that firms adhere to changing and complex employment laws regarding occupational safety and health, equal employment opportunity, healthcare, wages, and retirement plans.

Although job opportunities are expected to vary with the staffing needs of individual companies, strong competition can be expected for most positions. Candidates with certification or a master’s degree—particularly those with a concentration in human resources management—should have the best job prospects.

[source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program]

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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