Most organizations maintain a human resources department, or at least a human resources manager position. The HR manager juggles many roles including oversight of policies, employee relations and benefit programs, and she serves as the link between employer and employees. The skills needed to become an HR manager are varied, and they can be obtained through hands-on experience and higher education.
Successful HR managers must have strong interpersonal skills. In a role that requires constantly working with employees at all levels, you must be able to relate and communicate effectively with them. HR managers must assess employee relations with confidentiality, neutrality and sensitivity. They also must have the necessary people skills to conduct interviews, train staff, provide orientation, conduct performance reviews and handle employee issues. The best HR managers are accessible and fair, and they respect employee confidentiality.
As an HR manager, you will often serve as the link between employer and employee. You must also be an impartial mediator when problems arise between employees, including an employee and her supervisor. Your role is to listen to all sides of the conflict, remain neutral, maintain confidentiality, and suggest and facilitate resolution. HR managers may be creative in problem resolution but must escalate issues that violate federal laws pertaining to civil rights, privacy and employment to company management and the appropriate state and federal oversight organizations.
Benefits Administration Knowledge
The human resources department manages employee benefits. The HR manager is typically involved in the selection of vendors for health, dental and vision insurance, retirement plans, payroll administration and third-party benefits administrators. To effectively manage benefits programs and communicate their details to employees, the HR manager must have a solid understanding of benefits administration. The HR manager also must understand how regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, COBRA and Worker’s Compensation apply to employers and staff.
Education and Certification
Many of the skills required for the HR manager position are learned through schooling and certification. At a minimum, HR managers will have a bachelor’s degree in human resources, though many have advanced degrees. Additionally, certification from the HR Certification Institute, including the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) designations are common in the field. Both advanced education and certification allow you a greater selection of job opportunities and higher pay.
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