When people find out I work in HR, it’s pretty common that they’ll say “Oh right, that’s hiring and firing!” Well I’m here to say that it is so much more than that! Although of course those are two important parts of the job. The reality is that HR is a brilliant, well-rounded and exciting career with lots of different elements and specialisms! It’s rewarding, challenging, and different every single day! And I’m not just saying that because it happens to be my chosen career path.
My Action Learning Set recently asked me to do a presentation on HR and what they’ll need to know to successfully manage teams in the future. So in anticipation of what I hope will be a useful, informative (maybe even fun, we’ll see) session, I thought I’d give some examples of what someone working in HR might get involved with.
- Employee Relations: this is what most people think of HR as being – giving advice, whether that’s on NHS Terms and Conditions, sickness absence management, performance, disciplinaries, grievances, or cases of bullying and harassment. I find this aspect of the job really rewarding as you can see first-hand the impact you’re having within a short time-frame.
- Change Management: whenever a service is being altered or redesigned, and this has an impact on people’s jobs, there needs to be a formal process to make sure changes are implemented fairly and consistently. This means HR working closely with staff, managers and union representatives to ensure the process runs smoothly.
- Project Management: I’m currently co-ordinating two large projects, one to develop a new recruitment and retention website, and the other to restructure our HR department and get teams working closer together for a streamlined, effective HR service. I pride myself on being the Queen of Organisation, so project management appeals to me even though it’s not always as fast-paced as casework. Every project is different and offers new opportunities to learn (and to perfect my Gantt chart techniques).
- Workforce Planning and Analytics: whenever a new ward is built or services move around, workforce planning is one of the very first steps – you have to know exactly how many people you’ll need to run it effectively and efficiently. Analytics is also important, for instance using data to understand agency spend and how this might be reduced, or looking at how many people are accessing training and having meaningful appraisals.
- Organisational Development: OD is a huge area, and it’s importance is gathering recognition across the NHS. It’s all about making sure staff, and therefore the organisation, are developed and well-supported. It includes working on team culture, leadership development, and talent management from someone’s induction right through their career within the organisation. There are so many different aspects to OD – interventions can be on an individual, team, service and organisational level.
- Staff Engagement: I was really inspired on Time to Talk Day on 1st February when people all over the country got together in their teams to raise awareness of mental health issues, and take the opportunity to normalise conversations around this topic. We have some brilliantly dedicated Time to Change Champions here at University Hospitals of Leicester, and a Staff Engagement Team who have lots of great ideas for supporting staff, so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do next.
As I start to think about my first post-scheme job, I’m feeling really excited for the future. Wherever I end up, HR is a huge area with lots of opportunities and I look forward to exploring more of them.