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  • Writer's pictureChenlei Zhang

The Basics: What Does an HR Manager Do?

What is HR?

Before exploring a career in HR, let's go back to the very basics. Many hear the term "HR" thrown around repeatedly, yet still don’t know what it is. HR stands for “human resources” and represents all the people who work for the company. Because coordinating employees can be complex, many businesses now dedicate a department just for human resources management.

The Role of an HR Manager

As an HR Manager, your job goes beyond emailing, interviewing, and hiring. Below are some of the key responsibilities shared by HR managers all over the industry.

Policy Development

HR policies are necessary because they outline an organization’s obligation towards its employees and the procedures that should be carried out to establish the organization’s culture.

HR managers must go through a process of policy development to ensure that a company has an effective system within the department to benefit the organization as a whole. For example, standards regarding staffing individuals with certain qualities would benefit the organization because this guarantees that collaborative efforts will be efficient, leading to high-quality results.

The HR Manager oversees the progress of these ongoing procedures with the rest of the departments within the organization. Therefore, in-depth planning and strategizing are needed to compile a comprehensive policy needed for an effective organization.


After a policy is developed, HR managers move forward with recruitment. Recruitment is the process of creating job positions and descriptions, attracting potential candidates for these positions, conducting interviews, and selecting qualified candidates for an organization.

Besides looking for a candidate who has a good fit for the job, HR managers and department managers also determine whether they are a good fit with the corporate culture. Hiring based on this often results in effective collaboration and high employee retention rates. Common ways of finding potential candidates include posting job positions online, participating in networking events, browsing social media and network platforms, and listening to referrals from trusted connections.

Onboarding, Development, and Training

First of all, let's identify the difference between orientation and employee onboarding. Just like the ones held by university faculties for first-year students, orientation is a one-time event to welcome and introduce new employees to the organization. On the other hand, employee onboarding is a long-term process that aims to integrate new hires into the organization and its prospecting culture. The length of employee onboarding varies from company to company.

Onboarding is all about creating a great first impression of the company for those who are new, so that they are motivated to produce quality work and stay with the organization for a long time. It is part of the HR manager’s duty to design an onboarding process to help new employees get started in their jobs, inform them of the company's core culture, and help new hires bond with existing employees through team-building initiatives.

Employee Relations, Health, Wellness, and Welfare

Traditionally, a big part of an HR Manager's job includes administrative tasks such as interviewing employees and sending acceptance letters. In our modern workforce, the duties of HR managers are shifting more towards processes that can improve the work environment for employees.

Although quality results are important for running a business, an employee's wellness (both physical and mental) is just as important. If employees are treated as products instead of human beings with emotions and limited work capacities, then the business will not be able to retain its employees in the long-run.

That's why within HR departments, there are specific designations dedicated to the care of employee's health and wellness. HR managers designated to this area work to come up with strategies and develop wellness programs for employees going through hardships in the workplace. When evaluating the ethics of a company, the presence of programs dedicated to employee relations and health is a good sign.

Performance Management and Organization Development

Performance management is the process of creating a work environment that allows employees to produce work at an optimal level. It is an ongoing process that incorporates an appraisal system that directly improve employees' work. Performance management usually begins at the start of recruitment and ends when employees leave the organization.

After new hires are integrated into the company, HR managers have to oversee the ongoing process of training, coaching, and the feedback systems, where potential improvements and the steps to achieve these are identified. It is also the responsibility of the HR Manager to create and customize compensation systems accordingly for the organization's employees to reward and motivate them for their work.

So Are You HR?

If working as an HR manager sound interesting to you, you may be curious to see if you have the qualities for the job. The key qualities that make a successful HR manager includes:

  • Emotional intelligence - to succeed as an HR manager, one must have high empathy, self-awareness, and other interpersonal skills to thrive in the work environment

  • Leadership - someone who is able to provide guidance and motivate/inspire employees to achieve goals is a leader

  • Communication - as an HR manager, you embody and demonstrate the organization's culture and values to employees through being a good communicator

  • Organizing, planning, and detail-orientation - there are endless tasks and details HR managers have to conduct and keep track of; thus having strong organizing skills is a must to thrive in the job

  • Strong sense of ethics and morals - HR managers are often placed in situations regarding sensitive topics that require a good sense of ethics to make a satisfactory decision for all the parties involved

Without human resources, businesses will not be as effective in finding top talent, managing their employees, and retaining their employees. There needs to be employees who have the right skills and are equipped with the right tools and motivation to successfully contribute in making the organization successful. The role of HR is crucial to ensure that happens.


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