The HR profession has a huge variety of roles within it – from numerical and data-driven roles in reward and analytics to development roles in talent and learning and development.
These roles tend to fall into two categories: HR Generalists, who perform a variety of activities in any aspect of people practice; and Specialists, who provide detailed advice and guidance in their areas of expertise.
The 7 most common HR Career Specialisms are:
- HR Generalist
- Employee Relations
- Diversity & Inclusion
- Learning & Development
- Organisation Development & Design
So what are the core areas each HR specialism works with?
HR Generalists build relationships across the organisation, creating solutions to achieve the best organisational outcomes. They have complete accountability for the full employee lifecycle – from sourcing potential applicants to managing exits from the organisation. Their main aim is to ensure the organisation achieves its goals by creating – and delivering on – people strategy.
HR Generalists draw from all parts of the specialist areas represented in the people profession. Their priorities are shaped for the needs of the organisation.
Generalists are involved in a wide variety of activities which vary from day to day. One day they could be working with leadership teams on organisation design models; the next they could be dealing with specific disciplinary and grievances cases which have escalated.
Employee Relations focuses on creating and delivering people practices which develop – and maintain – positive working relationships between an organisation and its people. Working closely with unions and employee representatives, you’ll need to ensure that people practices are fair and transparent.
Some of the activities an employee relations specialist can expect to be involved in include:
- Creating people policies
- Dealing with complex cases, such as disciplinary grievances and appeals
- Supporting the organisation through restructures
- Ensuring engagement is maintained and managers act in a way that involves their staff
- Managing the relationship between the organisation and unions or employee bodies
- Dealing with disputes appropriately (for example, mediation or tribunal cases)
- Ensuring managers are upskilled to deal with people in a fair and effective manner
- Overseeing all people practices to ensure they are legally compliant.
Diversity and Inclusion is about creating inclusive environments and practices where employees can be themselves, are valued for their differences, and be supported to work at their best.
Done well, diversity and inclusion goes beyond the basic legislative and compliance requirements; it’s about creating an environment where difference is embraced and individuals can flourish.
Diversity and inclusion (or D&I) specialists are key influencers in the organisation, often working with senior leaders to gain their commitment to initiatives which create long-term value for organisations. When delivered in an integrated way, inclusion and diversity creates value to both organisations and wider society. Being able to evidence this value is key to gaining buy-in from stakeholders.
Learning and Development (L&D) is about creating a culture of continuous learning and growth through programmes that enable organisations to constantly evolve and develop.
L&D specialists put in place learning initiatives that enable organisations to constantly evolve and develop. Motivational and behavioural science are key to impactful learning, while learning is about much more than just attending courses. An L&D specialist will work closely with management to identify the current and future skills requirements of an organisation, creating flexible learning interventions (through digital and other means) to meet the diverse needs of the workforce.
Organisation Development & Design (OD&D) specialists help enable the success of organisation strategy by bringing together all parts of the organisation to make sure ‘the system’ operates at its best.
They’ll look at both the ‘hard’ elements (structures, systems, policies and metrics) and ‘soft’ elements of an organisation (culture, values, behaviours and relationships), combining these into a wider, integrated ecosystem.
As an OD&D specialist, you’ll likely use systems thinking to support organisational performance and outcomes, and key concepts in behavioural science to help the organisation shape its culture.
Resourcing specialists (or recruitment specialists / recruiters) are key to organisational success. After all, without the right people to fill the right roles, organisations will not thrive. Specialists in this area need to ensure that candidates have the right skills and experience, while making sure they’re the right cultural fit.
Creating a brilliant candidate experience is fundamental to resourcing, which is why a resourcing specialist will likely design assessment approaches to achieve the perfect match for the organisation and its future employees. Resourcing specialists also use workforce planning data to identify key resourcing requirements and tap into different talent pools to meet organisational needs.
Reward specialists need to ensure that an organisation’s pay and benefits fit with the organisational context and culture, while being relative to the external market environment.
Reward specialists need to understand the legal and regulatory landscapes of the reward agenda before working with management to put together a reward strategy. They’ll typically create a total reward approach, combining a range of different pay and benefits offerings into a flexible framework which meets the diverse needs of its employees.
So as you’ve read, there are a number of different ways HR can bring real value to your organisation and there’s certainly more to it than policing policies.