Human resources (HR) is a management function within an organization. HR professionals recruit, manage and provide direction for people who work in an organization to maximize profitability and employee satisfaction. They typically develop and administer policies related to hiring, performance management, compensation, safety and wellness, employee benefits, communication and training.
Along with a degree – which could be an online human resources degree or a degree obtained at a traditional campus – a number of skills and traits are important to a successful career in human resources. Integrity is a key component in HR. Human resource professionals have access to very sensitive information about fellow employees, such as salary, performance reviews, social security numbers and occasionally credit reports. They must exercise extreme discretion in dealing with this information.
A human resources program will teach many important skills but a key part of being a great HR manager is the ability to build relationships. Employees enter and exit through the department and are often at their most vulnerable during these times. The ability to be professional but empathetic is important for HR professionals to be effective in their coaching, counseling and conflict management roles.
Human resources management degree programs usually include training on information systems, as a large part of most HR manager’s job involves maintaining large databases of employee information. In the past this information was stored in paper files, but most organizations today maintain records electronically. However the data is stored, maintaining employee records is a crucial part of any human resources department.
Today’s HR departments are moving away from basic administrative roles and into strategic utilization of employees. Many purely transactional tasks such as payroll are being outsourced and HR professionals are being asked to add value to the organization through policy recommendations, reorganization of resources and tactical hiring. It’s an exciting time to earn a degree in human resources and join this growing profession.