What Does an HR Operations Specialist Do?

An HR operations specialist deals with a specialized area within the operations and administration of the human resources department. Their area of focus can be strategic development, departmental efficiency, or employee management. The HR operations specialist works directly under the supervision of a more senior position like an HR operations manager.

Large organizations especially look for this role so their human resources department can handle more complex workloads effectively. After all, the HR operations specialist plays a significant role in the department running smoothly and productively. However, it is a specialized role, and becoming an HR operations specialist requires substantial prior professional experience.

Since the human resources field is expansive and organizations become more complex, HR roles are becoming multi-dimensional. Therefore, you need to understand a role properly to explore its job landscape and apply for the right job alerts. The same applies to the HR operations specialist role, and you should explore the duties it involves and where it falls within the HR operations field.

This article goes through the human resources operations specialist’s role and responsibilities and discusses some frequently asked questions about the position. It tries to give you a sense of the role’s skill set and how you can train for it effectively.

The HR Operations Specialist Role

An HR operations specialist focuses on an aspect of the administration of the HR department and its everyday workings. While they can deal with other HR functions as well, their role focuses more on the departmental processes. Therefore, their aims slightly vary from different traditional human resources roles.

The human resources operations specialist contributes to improving the departmental pipelines and looks into how effectively the human resources department does its work. They also represent HR operations during scenarios like strategic planning. Additionally, a human resources operations specialist even handles employee queries about human resources functions like payroll and tax information or onboarding procedures.

HR operations goals

Since an HR operations specialist involves managing a diverse range of HR-related tasks along with departmental administrative work, organizations look for an individual with solid multitasking abilities. Additionally, the role requires the individual to possess strong attention to detail and superior documentation skills. Consequently, an HR operations specialist also needs the right set of interpersonal skills to collaborate with their peers effectively.

The HR operations specialist can specialize in any of the following aspects of the HR department:

  • oversee salaries and benefits of HR professionals
  • formulate and implement policies on departmental workflow
  • ensure recruitment of competent individuals throughout the organization
  • improve inter-departmental and interdepartmental employee relations
  • assure that the HR department follows best practices and has satisfactory outcomes

These aspects are crucial for the human resources department to ensure that the organization is sustainable and has a consistently satisfied workforce. Therefore, the human resources operations specialist is vital since they handle responsibilities associated with these aspects and have impressive salary ranges accordingly.

HR Specialist vs. HR Operations Specialist

As their names suggest, both roles have significant overlap in terms of responsibilities. For example, an HR operations specialist can handle any primary HR function and specialize in a particular aspect within human resources, just like an HR specialist. However, they have to also look into departmental processes and contribute to handling the administrative workload, unlike a regular HR specialist.

Difference between HR Operations and People Operations

Whether you want to become an HR operations specialist or a traditional HR specialist, you need the proper knowledge and skills. While there are many ways of acquiring these crucial prerequisites, you should look into the industry-standard HR certification courses at HR university.

Human Resources Operations Specialist Responsibilities

Exploring any human resources role means taking a closer look at the general responsibilities they have to handle at organizations. For the human resources operation specialist role, the list of duties features many traditional HR tasks. However, the role also involves focusing on the human department’s effectiveness and whether it is implementing its policies efficiently.

The responsibilities of an HR operations specialist can differ from organization to organization or location to location. However, the primary responsibilities that an HR operations specialist has to handle regardless of company or place are explained in detail below.

Represent HR Operations Across the Organization

Involving the HR operations team during an organization’s strategic planning is common across industries. After all, they have to formulate how the HR department must implement any policy or procedural changes. Therefore, the HR operations specialist represents the team across any strategic development meetings. Additionally, they contribute the team’s perspective to the plans for better execution planning.

The HR operations specialist also has to go back and effectively communicate all the strategic plans to the HR operations team. The role requires creating an effective communication bridge between the team and the organization. Therefore, an HR operations specialist needs solid communication and written abilities.

Develop Efficient HR Operations Workflows and Practices

An HR operations specialist has to manage how the department carries out its task and whether it can improve. Therefore, they need to gather essential productivity data regarding the department and analyze it properly. Then, the HR operations specialist can transform their analyses into actionable strategies that help the human resources department function optimally. Additionally, they have to weed out any inefficient practices and strategically phase them out.

The HR operations specialist helps ensure that the HR department maximizes its productivity. This directly affects the organization and its success as an employer. The whole HR operations team constantly monitors the department’s administrative procedures and works on how it can improve them even further.

The HR operations specialist must be data-driven and use the right analytical tools. After all, the role involves significant strategic planning. Therefore, any suggestions to improve a department’s workflow need to be backed with appropriate data analysis.

Ensure Legal And Regulatory Compliance

The HR department has to ensure that the organization complies with all relevant legal and regulatory procedures. Therefore, the HR operations specialist has to closely study all critical legal compliance records and policies so the operations team can create strategies accordingly. Additionally, the HR operations specialist must know every compliance process so that the organization is always at minimum legal risk.

HR Operations Specialist Skills

The HR operations specialist has to overlook any employee grievances or disciplinary actions that the human resources department takes to ensure the process follows legal standards. They have to stay on top of the employee-related activities that any department takes and which can land the organization into potential legal trouble.

Support and Implement Important HR Operations Processes

An HR operations specialist plays a crucial role in ensuring the organization’s effectiveness as an employer. Therefore, they handle essential HR functions, such as:

  • maintain and update employee records
  • overlook any HR transaction, such as hiring, onboarding, offboarding, promotions, reclassification, and more
  • conduct exit interviews and utilize feedback to improve departmental procedures
  • work with the payroll and benefits team to effectively administer compensation and incentives
  • research salary ranges for different positions throughout the organization to ensure packages are competitive
  • offer support to other departments on employee relations and best management practices

An HR operations specialist has to supervise the existing implementation of these HR functions. However, they also have to look for any inadequacies and suggest improvement plans.


The HR operations specialist role has to handle many of the traditional HR responsibilities. However, they have to also look into the human resources department’s procedures and whether they are optimal or not. Therefore, their responsibilities may look similar to those of a regular HR specialist at first glance but involve more administrative work.

An HR operations specialist requires the individual to have significant professional experience within the human resources field, preferably in an administrative capacity. Additionally, you need to have strong managerial and communication skills, along with strategic planning abilities. By ensuring such pre-requisites, you can become a competent HR operations specialist.


Here are some frequently asked questions people have about the HR operations specialist role.

How To Transition From Any HR Role to a HR Operations Specialist Role?

Transitioning to any HR operations position requires you to become well-versed with human resources administration and management. After all, traditional HR roles deal with implementing various HR functions, like benefits planning or policy implementation. However, the HR operations specialist role focuses on tasks dedicated to the department’s workflow. Therefore, you need to develop practical interpersonal and leadership skills.

You can become an human resources operations specialist by taking the proper certifications that train you properly. Additionally, you can start diving into the department’s productivity plans and see which areas matter the most. You can then train appropriately and slowly switch to an HR operations specialist role by aiming for a relevant job.

What Skills Help Make You a Competent HR Operations Specialist?

For an HR operations specialist role, you need to have solid communication and managerial abilities like any other HR role. Additionally, you have to be adept at multitasking and possess superior computer skills, such as working with Microsoft Office suite and other digital productivity tools. HR operation specialists are highly collaborative and have the leadership skills necessary to head and implement initiatives.

An HR operations specialist must be well-versed in payroll systems and documentation processes. They have to report to supervisors about departmental performance and relay appropriate instructions to junior colleagues. In addition, the HR operations specialist has to keep a close eye on any compliance issues that may arise and ensure that the organization follows regulatory rules closely.

Significant prior professional experience in the HR operations field is crucial to becoming a competent human resources operations specialist. Additionally, you need to be a strong analytical thinker since the role involves making solid strategies for better departmental efficiency and for overall organizational success.

Does Every Organization Need a Human Resources Operations Specialist?

The HR operations specialist plays a crucial role within the HR department in large organizations since they overlook an important aspect of its productivity and strategy. However, such a role is rare among smaller organizations since the HR department can confidently handle its own processes and the organization’s workload.

The human resources department in larger organizations with multiple divisions and departments has many duties to handle. Additionally, these duties are complex since they involve managing hundreds of employees and their details. Therefore, such HR departments employ many more human resources professionals than ones in smaller companies. It becomes essential to have an HR operations team to help ensure departmental efficiency in such HR departments.


If you are new to Human Resources and are looking to break into an HR operations specialist role, we recommend taking our HR Certification Courses, where you will learn how to build your skillset in human resources, build your human resources network, craft an excellent HR resume, and create a successful job search strategy.