A Comprehensive 101 Guide To The Responsibilities of The HR Manager
January 28, 2021
Viktor Nordmark
The responsibility of the HR manager in the corporate world is a massive topic. It represents an important and continuously growing field within professional work, which also means that this role is becoming both more varied and more extensive.
We've created an easy-to-read and comprehensive guide on the topic, for people interested in an education within HR management - or for managers looking for inspiration and advice in moving forward.

If you pursue a career within human resources and gain an upper-level position (which HR manager is), you will be responsible for the following in the company you work for:

  • Finding talent, hiring talent, and keeping talent in the organization - known as recruitment and selection, or staffing.
  • Implementing the necessary initiatives and systems to ensure that the company and its employees develop and are given the chance to thrive - known as organization and employee development.
  • Making sure the business has a fair and attractive salary level, as well as perks that will make employees feel valued in the corporation - known as benefits and compensation.
  • Staying on top of union negotiations, the relevant laws concerning employee contracts and fair treatment of non-union employees - known as labor and relations.
  • Implementing software and computer systems that pushes the HR department forward within the organization - known as the HRIS discipline.
  • Recruiting staff that represents the applicant group in a fair manner, and implementing the necessary efforts to make sure everyone feels treated as a valuable member of the staff - known as diversity and inclusion.
What influences the responsibilities of human resource managers?

With a huge work-description comes great responsibility. But how are the responsibilities for an HR manager actually decided? If you want to take on the position you'll need at least a 4-year college degree. It goes without saying, then, that your eventual role in a company can be a whole lot of different things. Let's take a look at some of the key factors that will determine your responsibilities as HR manager.

Big vs. small organization

First off, the size of the organization you start in will have a considerable effect on what your role will entail and look like. As a rule of thumb, we can say that if you're working in a large organization, your work tasks will be specific. And if you're working in a small organization, your work tasks will be broader. A business with 1000 employees obviously needs a larger HR department than a business with 10.

In large organizations, the human resources department of the company will generally be broken into several positions. This means that your responsibilities as HR manager in a large business will probably look more managerial; you might have a team working for you, and you'll be in charge of making sure everything runs smoothly.

If you're working on human resources management in a small business, you might be looking at a more practical, widespread position. Likely, the CEO will expect you to wear a whole bunch of hats, ranging from minor, practical tasks to more substantial, overarching ones. This means the responsibilities of an HR manager in a small business could be anything from running interviews to overseeing yearly company development strategizing.

The initial job description

In other words: a human-resources manager will mean a lot of different things depending on the company that's hiring. This is why it's important to be mindful of the job description when seeking work in HR management (which, ironically, is something you might be overseeing later on).

What is this company actually looking for? It's easy to focus on the 'What's required of me?' aspect of a job description when looking for work. Remember that the responsibilities of HR manager can vary considerably, and to seek out the jobs that consist of work tasks you'll be comfortable with and interested in working on.

If you prefer being hands-on and having a mixed workday, an HR management position in a smaller company might be a good idea. On the other hand, if you'd like to have a lot of responsibility, and possibly oversee one or several teams as HR director, you might be better off with a larger corporation. No matter what you prefer, make sure to look at the specific responsibilities of the HR manager listing in the ad.

Organization culture

An organization's culture will always be part of the foundation for any job position in that organization. This also means that you'll face a lot of different expectations in human resource management. Some companies will be groundbreaking pioneers within the field; others will be far behind and in need of some serious guidance.

Remember that the human resource manager at C-level (CHRO) always answer to the company's CEO and CFO, and that you'll, in that case also serve as a middleman between leadership and individual employees. If you enter a company with an already established people-oriented culture, your workday and tasks will look very different from the one in an old-fashioned business.

You can easily find information about a company's culture during the recruitment process. Ask questions about what's already in place in terms of HR, which steps are being planned, and the general attitude towards change. You'll be able to figure out a lot this way, and also get a better understanding of what's expected from you as HR manager.

The field of human resources consists of 7 main disciplines, namely:

  • Recruitment and selection (also known as staffing)
  • Organization and employee development
  • Benefits
  • Compensation
  • Labor and industrial relations
  • Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS)
  • Diversity and inclusion

Let's take a look at them, and how they all contribute to the responsibilities of human resource managers in different contexts.

A Hubert Guide  Recruiting science, The structured interview – A high volume hiring approach  How does the structured interview compare to other screening methods? And how  can technology enable all candidates to be interviewed in high-volume settings?  Download Guide
The HR manager's role in recruitment

Finding the perfect employee is literally like searching for a needle in a haystack. The recruitment and selection aspect of human resources is all about what's often called talent acquisition. Simply put, it means finding the perfect people for the company you're hiring on behalf of. Luckily there is now help to get from advancing technology.

Building a high-performance culture through staffing

To a larger and larger degree, businesses all over the world are realizing the necessity for good HR management in order to reach company goals. No enterprise will really get anywhere without the right people to help it along the way. One of the main responsibilities of an HR manager is to identify how to create a high-performance culture with the right staff. This is also referred to as talent management.

Whether you're in a big or small organization, having a clear image of who the company is, where it's at, and where it's headed will be key to finding the right individuals to hire. When you're in charge of human resources, you need to create the necessary systems, screening processes and other strategies to curate the perfect team.

People are immensely complicated, and the workplace is no different. In other words: Finding solid staff for a company is a process with a whole lot of factors at play. You'll need to be mindful of experience and qualifications, sure, but factors like personalities and work ethics are also essential. For a high-performance culture, you need to get all the puzzle pieces right.

Human resources management in the interview process

The responsibilities of an HR manager when it comes to the actual interview process is different from company to company. You might be working in a small business, and be the only person in charge of staffing. If so, it's obvious you'll need to write the work description, hold the interviews and ultimately choose who to hire.

If, on the other hand, you're in charge of the HR department in a larger corporation, it's likely you won't step in until quite late in the hiring process. That doesn't make your task any less difficult, though. In fact, selecting the right candidate when everyone on your shortlist seems perfect can seem near-impossible.

We can say that generally speaking, you'll be responsible, in one way or another, for designing the interview process for your company. This should always be done with care, and thorough evaluation of what the business needs in the role it's looking to fill. Talent acquisition is most effective when it's done with a long-term perspective in mind.

Ensuring a smooth talent transition

In most cases - unless a new position has been created - acquiring new talent also means that you have to manage a transition period in the company. How long this period is will depend on a range of factors, like the notice period on your end, the availability of the chosen candidate on their end, and workflow in ongoing projects.

Making sure the person leaving and the person coming in are treated respectfully and mindfully falls under the responsibilities of the HR manager. You'll also be in charge of making sure the new member of staff undergoes an easy and smooth onboarding process that gets them going in their new position.

Recruitment and selection are definitely among the most important aspects of human resource management. It's essentially the part of your work that entails building the foundation for human capital in the business, and as all good HR managers know, company goals are unreachable without a good team. Once you have one in place, the next step of your position begins; a good team will only thrive if it, and the organization it works for, is given room and possibility to grow.

Organization and employee development

The second main discipline of human resources concerns development - for both the company and the employees that work within it. As the HR manager, you'll be in charge of building a strong culture that ultimately becomes a symbiosis. You need to find a balance between the hard, on-paper goals of the business, and the creative, dynamic individuals you've selected to get it there.

How do you develop a people-oriented company?

Researchers, experts, and innovative businesses all agree: A people-oriented company is a company that will reach its goals faster. When the business grows alongside its employees, and not on top of them, great things happen. That's why one of the main responsibilities of a good HR manager today concerns developing a high-performance culture.

Now, it's obvious that if you're going to manage people in a meaningful way, you'll need systems that appreciate, understand and strengthen those individuals. As the senior human resource professional in the business, you'll be responsible for designing, testing and implementing these systems.

Things like:

  • Rewarding and highlighting good work
  • Developing an employee-employer relationship based on partnership
  • Finding ways to invest in employees and nourish their skills
  • Appreciating staff as individuals, not just employees
  • Focusing on the customer as individuals

Are all characteristics of a people-oriented company - and all part of your responsibilities as an HR manager.

Leveraging company goals and human capital for development

The main challenge when working with the organization and employee development will be the balance between business and individual. You have to find the golden middle way in which employees find excitement, joy, and engagement in their work, while still staying focused on the company goals and targets.

There are many different components to both of these developmental areas. On the human capital side, you're looking at leadership development, employee training programs, performance management and other similar tools and processes. On the other hand, any company needs to stay on top of its quarterly and annual objectives to survive.

Just like most of the other work tasks you'll take on in the role, this equilibrium is a tough one to master. Still, it will form part of your responsibilities as HR manager, and when you succeed, you'll see a solid growth on both sides of the scales.

Continuous evaluation and improvement

A key aspect of the organization and employee piece of HR management is continuous evaluation. That means you need to look at your designs, systems, and implementations, and figure out how well they're working, on both the worker and company side. Did your training program have any effect? Did it work the way it was supposed to? Did it contribute to company goals?

As we mentioned above, a people-oriented company is one that views its staff as meaningful partners in the workplace. In other words: The employees are probably your best source of input and feedback, at least when it comes down to their own professional development in the business. Part of the responsibilities of an HR manager is to get as much out of the company's human capital as possible.

This means that you can and should get help from the people who've participated in the training programs you've implemented. Ask them what worked. What was most meaningful to them? Did they learn anything? How could the design be improved? When you successfully develop both an organization and its staff, magic happens.

Benefits and compensation management

Compensation and benefits may sound dry, but like all other things in human resources, this is a diverse, challenging and important topic. In the field, it essentially means building the structures necessary to keep talent in the business. Simply put: If you make the workplace attractive to the people you want working there, they're going to come, and stick around.

Why should talent work in your company?

There's no single, perfect answer for you here, but this is a very important question to ask yourself - and ask often. People-oriented companies understand how valuable a good employee is for their continued growth. They see themselves as equal to qualified and competent individuals and structure their compensation and benefits programs accordingly.

Now, this isn't just a matter of implementing the benefits that are required by law - which also forms part of your responsibilities as the HR manager. It's about looking at incentives, and really building a workplace that people want to come to and stay, long-term. Human capital is most meaningful when it remains in the business for a longer period of time.

Benefits programs include things like:

  • Insurances (like life insurance, healthcare insurance etc.) for the employees
  • Planning for retirement with respect and appreciation for the work the employees have contributed
  • Different leaves; vacation, sick leave, and parental leave
  • Schedule planning (flexible schedules, breaks etc.)
  • College debt assistance
  • Housing
  • Company car use
  • Childcare

Staying competitive when attracting human capital

The list above definitely isn't all-inclusive - and still, a lot of the things on it will be seen as serious perks from an employee's perspective. As human resources manager, your job entails expressed appreciation for the individuals in the workplace. This means that one of your responsibilities in the role includes staying on top of the trends and competition when it comes to benefits and compensation.

By doing this, you can strive to keep the company at the forefront of benefits packages in your industry and area. This will attract more applicants to the company you represent; more talent you can acquire to help the business grow and develop in the right direction.

Your main challenge here will be to make attractive benefits and compensation packages doable where costs are concerned. Because it's difficult to put down in exact numbers how much a loyal employee is worth, it's hard to defend expensive perks. Part of your responsibilities as HR manager is to create structures that are equally beneficial to the business and the staff.

Conducting the yearly salary review

Another important part of the benefits and compensation discipline in human resources is the yearly salary review. Whether you do this yourself, or you oversee the process, this is a chance to really steer the business in the people-oriented direction. The best way to do so is with transparency, honesty and mutual evaluation.

First off, inflation is a fact. This means that every year, the cost of living increases - which is the main purpose of holding yearly salary reviews in the first place. As a bare minimum, employees should, therefore, see an increase at least equal to the inflation rate in their salaries. And yet, remember that this is the company's chance to show appreciation for its staff.

Once again, your responsibilities as HR manager come into play. You need to balance the financial reality with the individual expectations, which is why it's important to remember the employee-business partnership in this process. Each member of staff should be allowed to say and express what they feel they deserve in terms of compensation, and it's your job to listen to their why.

Managing labor and industrial relations

The oldest and arguably most bureaucratic part of being in charge of human relations concerns what's called labor and industrial relations. Not unlike the other disciplines, you'll need to master a number of different roles in order to get this part of your responsibilities as HR manager right. Juggling between several organizations in a people-oriented and mindful manner is no easy task.

Running union communications and negotiations

In a modern HR perspective, the underlying purpose of unions is amazing. They are some of the oldest organizations specifically designed to protect employees and ensure that their needs and demands are met. Having that said, it doesn't mean standing between a union and a business is going to be an easy responsibility as an HR manager.

Once again, company culture will come into serious play. If you're working with a people-oriented business, it's likely to have understood the meaning of human capital. If it's also implemented in practice, it will probably have grown its revenue. Which in turn will increase the likelihood of CEO's and CFO's being more optimistic towards union demands.

Still, what's considered a reasonable demand will probably look quite different from the union and corporate perspectives. Your job as a manager for a company's employees is to look out for them, while still maintaining an HR budget that aligns with the financial reality.

A Hubert Guide  Recruiting science: The structured interview – A high volume hiring approach  How does the structured interview compare to other screening methods? And how  can technology enable all candidates to be interviewed in high-volume settings?  Download Guide
The legislative responsibilities of an HR manager

Legislation also falls under the labor and industrial relations discipline in human resources. Your responsibilities as HR manager aren't just guided by company culture and your own desire to build a fruitful workspace. You're also in charge of making sure the business you work for follows the law.

Now, legislation is complicated in the context of human resources. That's because laws change depending on which level an organization finds itself at. There are local, state and federal laws on how to manage contractual, union and employee matters. That also means you as the HR manager will need to keep things in order.

If you work in a small business, you'll most likely be operating at a local or state level where legislation is concerned. If, on the other hand, you're HR manager for a large corporation, laws at all levels might apply. In this last case, you'll likely have a legal team at your side, but the main responsibility of making sure employees are handled according to the law is still on you.

Handling non-union employees in a people-oriented culture

Professionals that are part of unions are protected by the collective agreements and negotiations that the union organizes for them. It's a different matter for non-union employees, who are more on their own. Part of your responsibilities as an HR manager is to handle these relationships correctly as well.

A surprisingly large number of workers are unaware of their rights in the workplace, simply because the legislation is so complicated. If you enter human resources management you'll need to make sure the non-union employee relationships are managed just as mindfully as the union ones.

This really just comes back to the topic of cultivating a people-oriented workspace. Every employee should be treated fairly and equally, and the foundation for this culture lies in their contract. If you can make sure every member of staff is appreciated contractually, as well as culturally, you'll have mastered an essential component of the labor and industrial relations discipline.

HRIS: A new responsibility of the HR manager

This is the most recent human resources discipline, and it's guided by the current technological revolution. HRIS, or Human Resources Information Systems, now falls under the responsibilities of HR manager. If it's leveraged right it can become one of your best tools in the people-oriented workplace.

What is HRIS in human resources management?

As mentioned above, this is the information systems component of human resources or computer programs that you use in your role as HR manager. There are currently many options of software on the market, and it's all designed to help companies with their employee management.

The possibilities in this field are limitless. With HRIS you can make sure that you delegate your time the way you should be doing. Instead of spending hours going through and updating employee data, you can have a system do it for you. Rather than doing all the groundwork yourself, a computer program can tell you where your contracts are lacking in legislation.

Remember, though, that one of your responsibilities as HR manager will be to handle HRIS tools mindfully. It's easy to get lost in the numbers if a company relies too heavily on software for reporting. You'll need to make sure the people-oriented culture isn't lost in all the analysis.

Identifying the best tools for your company

Because there is such an enormous amount of HRIS software on the market, it can be challenging to identify which ones you actually need. If you don't, though, you'll risk spending the time the tech was supposed to give you on the tech itself. The best way of pinpointing the tools your company needs is by asking the following questions:

  • What takes up most of my time in my role as an HR manager?
  • Which work tasks are the most tedious?
  • Which areas do I find most challenging to administer?

Once you have the answers, you can start looking for software that can help. Remember that your responsibility will be to implement and use programs that are cost-efficient, both in terms of budget and in terms of human capital.

The most common human resources software help with these areas:

  • Employee data
  • Reports and analysis of employee information
  • Self-service programs for employees
  • Time-tracking tools
  • Application software (applicant tracking)
  • Streamlining HR with tech

Less is often more where software is concerned. Unless you're a tech wiz, choosing complicated programs over more intuitive ones can turn into a nightmare. It's easy to be taken with all the different features of smooth software. Just remember that it's your job to ensure you pick programs that are helpful in practice.

Streamlining human resources is one of the main responsibilities of an HR manager. It's also one of the most challenging balancing acts in your workplace role. You need to stick to a budget, while still giving employees the compensation they deserve. You have to find the ways in which both legislation and expectations can be met. Ideally, you want an effective and happy workforce.

A human resources manager will always be concerned with finding the right balance, in all the disciplines they're in charge of. With technology, it becomes possible to do this in a meaningful way. Imagine having an AI that screens applicants in an ethical, fair and impartial manner. Or a program that tells you exactly which employee contentment areas you need to work on. Finding this tech and leveraging it correctly is the most important task of HR manager in the HRIS discipline.

Diversity and inclusion in human resources management

Diversity and inclusion is the final discipline in human resources, and arguably one of your most challenging responsibilities as HR manager. Here, you'll need to find talent that fairly and ethically represents the diversity in the applicant base for every job you post. With a diverse company staff in place, it's also human resources' job to ensure strong inclusion efforts in the workplace.

Leveraging diversity

If you want to succeed in building a high-performance culture and a people-oriented company, you have to diversify your workforce. With more perspectives, more backgrounds, and more educational contexts, the company you work for will have a more solid ground to stand on. By extension, it will become easier to reach quarterly, yearly and long-term goals.

At its core, this aspect of your job is about leveraging diversity so that it becomes a meaningful resource in the company you work for. In other words: recognizing the different professionals in the company, and creating structures in which they can all thrive. Part of your responsibilities as HR manager will be to see the different backgrounds, education and cultural contexts of the workforce and utilizing this human capital for what it's worth.

Personalities also fall under this category, and managing several different types of people can be incredibly challenging. When done right, though, you'll not only ensure a happy workforce who are invested in the business. You'll also have succeeded in making the most of the company's resources.

Promoting diversity and inclusion

The responsibilities of HR manager within this category will include not just the recruiting of a diverse workforce, but also of programs and initiatives that make sure they stick around. Remember that the right talent for any given company can come from a whole range of different backgrounds. But just hiring it won't be enough - when you're in charge of human resources, you'll have to keep the team on board, too.

The scale of the diversity and inclusion efforts will obviously depend on the size of your staff. Where human interaction is concerned, though, challenges pop up in all types of teams. Generally speaking, you'll be in charge of the following under this discipline:

  • Conflict resolution
  • Proving to your staff that diversity is important
  • Diversity at every level of the business
  • Providing every member of staff with equal access to opportunity
  • Treating every employee fairly
  • Training on diversity and inclusion

A people-oriented business is obviously one that is mindful of the needs of its employees. You'll need to ensure that the protocols in place match the expectations of both the company's stakeholders and the entire staff.

Running reviews of diversity and inclusion

As we've mentioned previously, a large component of being in charge of human resources concerns self-evaluation, at the individual, team and business levels. The diversity and inclusion discipline is arguably the most important one to run people-oriented reviews in. If you do this right, you'll give people a chance to communicate their thoughts on how they're being included in the company.

There are many ways to go about this, and as with all responsibilities of an HR manager, they'll need to be matched with the needs of the business. Having that said, transparency and openness in practice will be essential in this discipline. Employees need to feel like they find themselves in a culture in which they can raise concerns and thoughts on that culture.

As such, the diversity and inclusion aspect of your job needs to run at three separate levels; in the hiring process, in practice with the workforce, and in reviews with each employee. People thrive in spaces where they feel comfortable. Your job as a human resources manager will often be about creating and cultivating the space so that the human capital is effective.

Taking on the responsibilities of an HR manager

We've now gone through the main disciplines of human resources and provided you with a brief overview of each. If you want to go into HR management, though, it's important not to lose sight of whether the role suits you. An HR manager's skills and competencies are many, and with such a versatile job description, it's important to take stock of your own professional interests before embarking on a degree in the field.

What degree do you need for human resources management?

There are two ways to enter into human resources management from an educational point of view. Both of them start with gaining a Bachelor in Human Resources. This is a 4-year degree that comprises the basis for your education within human resources. The bachelors are offered at universities across the country.

Once you've secured your bachelor's degree in human resources, you can move into HR management in one of two ways. The first is to use your degree to apply for a junior position within human resources, and then work your way up within that company. Be aware, though, that even if a senior position comes up, you may fall short with your bachelor's.

That's because most HR manager positions, at least from an educational standpoint, will require you to hold a master's in human resources management. This is another 2-year degree, that focuses specifically on the responsibilities of HR manager. In other words: You'll have to assume you'll be studying and working for at least 6 years before securing a position in human resources management.

The perfect HR manager profile

Additionally to the educational background of an HR manager profile, companies hiring will obviously also look at skills and competencies to find their ideal candidate. And because this role is so incredibly versatile, you'll fall under serious scrutiny when applying for a managerial position within human resources.

As a rule of thumb, and simply put, we can say that the responsibilities of HR manager require a person who has both a high IQ and a high EQ. You need to be analytical, but have interpersonal skills. You need to be able to look at things in careful detail, and in the big picture. You'll have to possess an ability to see both the individual and the team that you're managing.

Because the main aspect of your job will concern humans, being responsible for human resources isn't just difficult from a business perspective; it's difficult from a relational one, too. The perfect HR manager candidate should be able to lead in an inclusive and mindful manner, while still staying on track with company goals and long-term business growth.

Personal ethics and the HR manager role

All of this means that on a personal level, you should probably be interested in humans and individuals - and their needs - in order to fit into the HR manager role. If you don't care about someone's difficulties in getting to work, or in their desire to help build a more inclusive working environment, human resources management probably isn't for you.

It's also important to remember that a key component of your job will be to balance staff expectations and business realities. To put it simply: You may often find yourself in conflict resolution, between individual employees, or between workers and company. As such, you should be comfortable with and understanding of human interaction in order to succeed and thrive as a human resources manager.

We hope this guide has been helpful to you, and that it's given you a better understanding of the responsibilities of an HR manager. It's a versatile, ever-changing, and exciting field, and if you enjoy working with people, it may definitely be a good career choice for you.

Implementation period

What are the HR managers' responsibilities depended on?

  • Organization size
  • Initial job description
  • Company culture

What are the main responsibilities of the HR-manager?

  • Recruitment and selection (also known as staffing)
  • Organization and employee development
  • Benefits
  • Compensation
  • Labor and industrial relations
  • Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS)
  • Diversity and inclusion

What is the role of the HR manager in recruiting?

  • Scaling highly performing teams and culture
  • Managing the interview process
  • Ensuring smooth talent transition

How does the HR manager develop a people-oriented company?

  • Rewarding and highlighting good work
  • Developing an employee-employer relationship based on partnership
  • Finding ways to invest in employees
  • Appreciating staff as individuals, not just employees
  • Focusing on the customer as individuals

What is the HR manager's role in attracting and keeping talent?

  • Identifying drivers and promoting them
  • Developing competitive benefits programs
  • Adapting compensation to trends and competition
  • Negotiating and communicating with the union

What is HRIS?

  • Human Resources Information Systems
  • Various tools that boost the efficiency of the HR division.

What is the HR-managers responsibility within HRIS?

  • Identifying the best tools for the company
  • Balancing a people-oriented culture with technical tools

How does an HR-manager pinpoint what HRIS tools are needed?

  • Start by asking the following questions:
  • What takes up most of my time in my role as an HR manager?
  • Which work tasks are the most tedious?
  • Which areas do I find most challenging to administer?

What does the most common HRIS tools help with?

  • Employee data
  • Reports and analysis of employee information
  • Self-service programs for employees
  • Time-tracking tools
  • Application software (applicant tracking systems)
A Comprehensive 101 Guide To The Responsibilities of The HR Manager
January 28, 2021
Viktor Nordmark
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