The world of Human Resources (HR) is diverse and encompasses many elements to support and maintain the life cycle of employees in an organization. The many roles of HR employees can be as broad or unique as a company needs, depending on its size and needs.
Seven distinct areas within the HR department are necessary for an organization’s operations. They include:
- Recruiting and hiring
- Training and development
- Employee benefits
- Employer-employee relations
- Company culture
- Disciplinary actions
- Safe work environment
Some companies will have multiple individuals handling these areas, while small organizations may only require one person for all human resources activity. One significant position of this department is the HR director. So, what does an HR director do?
What Are the Responsibilities of an HR Director?
The HR Director holds a senior executive position within an organization and focuses less on day-to-day activities. Therefore, this strategic role handles many broad-spectrum responsibilities to ensure the company follows current industry standards and procedures.
Generally, the HR Director is responsible for creating and enforcing the entire HR department policies and programs within an organization.
Some primary responsibilities of an HR Director include:
- Planning and growing the HR department
- Supervise and guide HR management
- Develop and monitor organizational strategies
- Collaborating with other departments
Planning and Growing the HR Department
The HR Director oversees the organization’s HR department to ensure they follow proper operating practices. In addition, this role will answer to the department’s total performance.
Several aspects of planning and growing the HR department include:
- Initiate, direct, and manage HR initiatives, such as recruiting, training, compensation, benefits, and employee relations
- Oversee staff operations within the organization
- HR budget development with associated programs
- Establish and enforce HR objectives and policies according to local, territorial, and federal guidelines
- Comprehensive reporting on the HR department’s successes and shortfalls
- Cultivating a supportive, inclusive, and positive work environment for optimal productivity
Supervise and Guide HR Management
An HR Director helps facilitate the HR managers' daily tasks within the department. In addition, this executive position ensures that all staff follow critical labor policies and adhere to proper government regulations.
This position is responsible for mentoring and guiding HR Managers to successfully handle complaints and resolve day-to-day issues within the organization, including payroll, benefits, and employee paperwork.
Develop and Monitor Organizational Strategies
The role of an HR Director encompasses strategic, operational planning rather than handling the day-to-day operations. In addition, they research, develop, monitor, and update all company policies and procedures as necessary to follow the current local, state, and federal government regulations.
This position plans and executes recommendations for an organization’s growth and development to enhance future success. These tasks include successful long-term hiring strategies and setting attainable HR departmental goals.
Collaborating with Other Departments
An HR Director is part of an organization's functioning team of executives, making it essential to collaborate with other departments for company success. In addition, working alongside other department directors will ensure streamlined processes which adhere to the company’s policies and regulations.
Some areas where an HR Director may collaborate with other departments include:
- Benefits program management
- Database management procedures
- Employee records management
What Role Does an HR Director Play in an Organization?
There is a hierarchy of HR department roles within an organization that makes up six different levels. Knowing where the HR Director fits into this ranking will help distinguish the role and influence it has on other positions within the company.
The level designations are as follows:
- Entry-Level: HR Assistant, HR Intern, HR Temp, HR Trainee
- Individual Contributing Roles: Benefits Analyst, HR Analyst, HRIS Analyst, HR Business Partner, HR Coordinator, HR Generalist, Recruiter, HR Specialist
- Management Role: Benefits, Facilities, HR, HRIS, Payroll, Talent Acquisition, Training, Workers Comp
- Director Position: Analytics, Employer Brand, Facilities, HR, Payroll, Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, Training, Workers Comp
- Vice-President Role: HR, Talent Acquisition, Talent Management
- CHRO or CPO: Chief Human Resources Officer, Chief People Officer
When exploring this hierarchy, the HR Director oversees several other levels, including the entry-level employees, individual contributing roles, and management in the organization. However, often the HR Director collaborates more with the management team as they handle the lower-level employee roles.
The HR Director is one of the more senior roles in an organization. This position focuses on the company’s policies, practices, and strategies for the greater picture long-term rather than everyday operations.
This role can be a distinct position within a large organization. Alternatively, small companies may employ an HR Director to handle several levels of the hierarchy due to low employee numbers.
What Skills Are Necessary To Be an Effective HR Director?
An HR Director is a position that takes on more than basic human resources tasks. To be an effective HR Director, an individual should possess these necessary skills:
- Extensive experience with business operations and HR processes
- Strategic thinking
- Critical and analytical reasoning
- Highly effective communicator
- Trustworthy and inspire trust in others
- Ability to influence people
- High degree of ethics and morals
- Reliable and dependable
- Flexible and adaptable
Extensive Experience With Business Operations and HR Processes
The HR Director position is not entry-level and requires an individual with significant experience with business operations and HR processes. These fundamental strategies encompass employees' life cycle and include recruitment and retention, productivity, and engagement.
Strategic thinking is vital for an HR Director to identify long-term organizational goals and create a plan to achieve them. The ability to synthesize new innovative thoughts and ideas allows them to think outside the box and find alternative solutions.
Critical and Analytical Reasoning
Possessing critical and analytical reasoning is a vital skill for HR Directors. They will rely on data collection to analyze employee problems or challenges to find supportive and practical solutions. The deductions based on all necessary data help drive the decision-making process on an executive level.
Highly Effective Communicator
Highly effective communication from an HR Director ensures that employees understand all aspects of business operations. This role will connect top-down HR processes and policies to staff while recognizing bottom-up employee concerns and inquiries. Communication ensures that all individuals feel valuable to the organization and receive any vital information necessary to succeed at the company, including training and policy changes.
Trustworthy and Inspire Trust In Others
The HR Director should be someone that staff can trust to handle sensitive and confidential information. These individuals are privy to sensitive details about each employee, from contact information to personal health and employment concerns.
This executive role should successfully inspire trust in others throughout the organization. Leading by example, employees should understand the obligations that require them to refrain from office gossip, leaking client information, or sharing confidential details about projects with others outside the company.
Ability To Influence People
The ability to influence people into being productive and following organizational strategies is vital for an HR Director. This role will look at the bigger picture of combining all the team member’s efforts rather than each individual’s performance for a common goal.
An HR Director that is respectful of other employees and shows a genuine interest in their concerns and needs in the workplace helps build a solid foundation. In addition, staff members who feel understood and heard by executives are more likely to be loyal and follow the management team's guidance, making it easier to influence them on corporate strategies and policies.
High Degree of Ethics and Morals
Naturally, anyone within the human resources department should follow a high degree of ethics and morals, especially in the role of HR Director. This position is indicative of the executive team within an organization, and possessing these internal attributes ensures that they treat all employees equally, with respect, and adhere to an exceptional code of conduct.
Individuals with a high standard of ethics and morals will be competent to make the right decision for organizational planning, development, and strategies within the employment lifecycle. In addition, this skill helps to increase trust and accountability in the HR Director, therefore increasing and reinforcing collaboration between employees respectfully.
Reliable and Dependable
Reliability is another vital skill that all HR Directors should possess. This attribute goes hand in hand with dependability, reinforcing the outlook that the HR department is a valuable component of an organization for its employees.
Reliable and dependable HR directors are consistent with their methods and organizational procedures. Therefore, creating a fair, positive, and steadfast work environment that employees can count on.
Because HR Directors need to look at the big picture, being goal-orientated is a beneficial skill. Focusing on a specific objective and its steps will help this role be successful and purposeful.
A goal-orientated individual can plan their time efficiently to see the desired results while maintaining focus and momentum, even for long-term objectives. Someone in the HR Director role will understand the need for SMART goals and how to use them effectively with their team.
Flexible and Adaptable
The HR Director role benefits from someone flexible and adaptable. HR practices often require adjustments to adapt to be suitable across various organizational platforms with changing government regulations or evolving technologies.
These circumstances call for an individual who is flexible enough to make alterations and adapt to changing needs in the workplace. An HR Director who can have an open mind for collaboration to meet challenges with a positive outlook.
A team-orientated HR director is essential for an organization that wants to instill camaraderie with its staff. This skill helps encourage a positive environment where the employees feel that they are valuable and their contribution is essential to the company's overall success.
Recognizing diversity within a team and having the knowledge and skills to keep employees engaging with one another will help improve morale and productivity.
In addition to these many high-quality skills, an HR Director should have the intelligence and aptitude for learning new technology in the workplace. As the HR industry advances with new technology, keeping up with current trends and offerings is vital to remain relevant.
What Challenges Does an HR Director Face in Today's Business Environment?
No position is without its challenges, especially in executive-level roles, like an HR Director. Although the human resources department of an organization has always tried to attract the top talent in the industry and improve employee retention, today’s business environment can make this task extra difficult.
Some of the more common challenges that an HR Director will face today include:
- Embracing the dynamic work environment with in-person and remote teams
- Navigating and managing workplace diversity and inclusion effectively
- Encouraging and developing new leaders within the company for long-term success
- Tackling organizational change efficiently
Embracing the Dynamic Work Environment With In-Person and Remote Teams
As technology advances and industries grow globally, opportunities for more dynamic teams arise. In addition, a significant portion of the workforce is now working remotely, changing the face of groups and how to navigate productivity.
An HR Director who is adaptable and flexible to these circumstances will be more successful at encouraging a positive work environment for all staff.
Navigating and Managing Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Effectively
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace are more critical than ever before. As a result, employees seek organizations that welcome and accept individuals from every race, culture, background, and orientation.
In today’s business environment, the diversity and inclusion guidelines are vastly different from those of the past. Therefore, companies following archaic policies must adapt to remain relevant in the industry.
Encouraging and Developing New Leaders Within the Company for Long-Term Success
Encouraging current employees to develop in their roles can be challenging if there is no clear focus on a goal. HR directors must focus on the bigger picture by helping foster the organization’s new leaders to ensure long-term success.
This strategy can come in the form of mentorship and fostering continuous learning as the HR Director guides employees while they develop their careers.
Tackling Organizational Change Efficiently
Organizations are continuously changing to meet the demands of the industry and the workforce. Effective HR Directors should successfully tackle these changing needs and adapt organizational strategies and procedures accordingly.
How Can an HR Director Create a Positive and Productive Work Environment?
HR Directors can create a more positive and productive work environment by prioritizing better mental health and well-being strategies for the employees. Employers find that staff who feel less stressed and have an adequate work-life balance perform better and have fewer missed days.
Employees are more focused on a positive work experience than ever before, making it a significant aspect alongside a compensation package. In addition, in today’s competitive workplace, individuals seek an employer that offers an atmosphere where they feel like they belong and are a valuable asset, rather than just another number on the payroll.
How Is the Role of the HR Manager Changing?
The HR Manager’s role is changing with today’s evolving world to include more technological tools for enhancing the workforce. In addition, this role now recognizes the employees as assets to an organization and moves to cultivate their development for higher employee retention and overall workplace satisfaction.
In some companies, the roles of HR Manager and HR Director consolidate to streamline the HR budget for an effective and productive department. Recognizing the changing roles in human resources will ensure an organization remains competitive in the workplace.