Human Resources News & Insights

What HR managers told us: Do you have an HR ‘department’?

We asked 317 HR how many employees were in the HR “department.” Here’s what they said.

Just me: 46%

2 to 5: 35%

More than 5: 19%

Interesting note: Most of the people we talked to – whether in a one-person department or a group – said they were juggling other balls, doing tasks outside of the normal responsibilities of HR. For instance, some were serving as the organization’s safety manager.

Innovative time management

So how were they finding the time to handle all the other duties piled on a typical HR specialist?

Some said they had managed to carve out a little of the IT department’s time to put up an HR intranet where employees can go to find information and answers to questions, meaning workers don’t have to run into HR with every little concern. That’s a timesaver, even though most said their intranet was fairly basic, with few fancy features.

Another time-saver: Some HR managers train employees on how to deal with benefits providers, such as insurance companies. That saves time in the long run because employees then contact the providers directly instead of expecting HR to do it.

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  1. Jackie T - SPHR says:

    This just proves to me that in many organizations HR is not considered an “equal” part of the management team. Do you think Production or Operations is expected to do sales, marketing or other duties? There needs to be a pushback in HR when we are asked/required to wear so many hats that employee focus suffers. I agree that part of our job should be teaching our employees to be self sufficient (give a man a fish, feed him for a day…teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime), but employees should know that they CAN come to HR when they need additional support. Making travel arrangements for an executive shouldn’t take precidence.

  2. In my experience as an HR professional…and I have over 20 years…I’ve always been the safety manager, training professional and payroll manager as well as the HR director. I have also frequently assisted in the IT area because I was once a network administrator, have been involved in Kaizen events, have facilitated conflict resolution, have value stream mapped organizations, and have helped obtain ISO certification. I’ve worked for companies having anywhere from 100 to 600 employees and have had anywhere from 0 to 2 assistants. Most of my experience has been in a manufacturing environment, so safety is critical and not something that doesn’t require a lot of time and effort. Wearing all the different hats can be stressful, but it’s also fulfilling and rewarding when we do something wonderful that really benefits the organization.

    I do wish HR was valued more, but what I do is attempt to add as much value as I can in everything I do. I’m always looking for ways to improve what we do and to do it more cheaply and effectively. I actually enjoy helping others succeed. The more I learn about my profession and the areas I’m responsible for, the more effective I can be at adding value. While there are a lot of things I can’t do because there just aren’t enough hours in the day and I don’t have super-human stamina, I keep chipping away at my list of goals. As long as I’m gaining ground, I’m able to feel good about what I accomplish. If you try to eat the whole elephant in one bite, you’re going to choke. But one bite at a time, you can eat the entire elephant. So I set goals, prioritize those goals and then break them down into bite-sized action items. I keep plugging away and find that over time, I DO make a difference. To me, that’s what it’s all about.

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