Looking to know what is the difference between an HR manager and an HR specialist? You are at the right place.
HR specialists and HR managers play a fundamental role in the smooth running of an organization’s human resources department. Although they together in the HR department to achieve this goal, some key distinctions exist between the two fundamental HR roles.
HR specialists focus on specific HR operations tasks, while HR managers have a broad and strategic focus on the effective management of HR.
An HR specialist focuses on employee benefits and payroll details, while an HR manager manages HR employees, and develops strategies for recruiting and retaining employees. Both contribute equally to the organization’s progress, but in different ways.
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This article explains the roles of HR specialists and HR managers and how they contribute to an organization’s success. Let’s start
What does an HR Specialist do?
An HR specialist is a human resource expert who works to ensure that all HR operations run smoothly and on time. They ensure that the organization’s employees are happy and healthy to extract the most productivity out of them.
HR specialists exhibit a deep knowledge of employment laws and benefit programs. They work to keep the organization in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
They also manage the day-to-day operations of the HR department. HR specialists look after the administration of employee benefits and payroll. They ensure that employees get the benefits they are entitled to, such as health insurance and vacation days. They also keep track of employee vacations and absences.
An HR specialist specializes in a particular area of human resources. They handle the hiring process, employee training, or employee development. In addition to that, they work with managers to ensure that they comply with employment laws and regulations. Human resource specialists have the following responsibilities:
- Designing and implementing employee benefit programs
- Administering payroll and managing benefits
- Offering information about benefits and compensation to employees
- Designing and conducting new employee orientation
- Maintaining employee records
- Investigating accidents and complaints
- Overseeing employee training programs
- Designing and implementing employee development programs
- Improving employee engagement
What does an HR Manager do?
HR managers are human resource professionals who manage and organize the whole HR department and its staff. An HR manager is responsible for the overall management of the human resources department.
They are strategic thinkers and develop long-term plans for people and HR growth. They work with senior managers and directors to ensure that the organization has the right mix of people with the right skills. They develop programs to attract and retain employees.
An HR manager exhibits broad knowledge of all human resources aspects. They specialize in a particular area, such as recruiting or employee relations. However, their job is to develop strategies that improve the overall performance of the HR department. Human resource managers have the following responsibilities:
- Developing long-term plans for the human resources department
- Working with senior managers to identify the workforce needs of the organization
- Developing programs to attract and retain employees
- Designing and administering employee benefit programs
- Overseeing the work of human resource specialists
- Investigating accidents and complaints
- Managing the budget
- Assisting in developing strategies
- Analyzing employee performance to identify trends
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How do HR Specialists and HR Managers Work Together?
HR specialists and HR managers work together to ensure that the organization’s employees are happy and healthy. They collaborate to keep the organization in compliance with all labor laws and regulations.
The HR specialist contributes to the organization’s progress by managing the day-to-day operations of the human resources department. They manage employee compensation plans to ensure employees get the benefits they are entitled to. They also investigate employee complaints and accidents.
The HR manager manages the team of HR specialists, administrators, generalists, and recruiters. They work on the development of long-term plans for the human resources department. HR managers collaborate with senior managers to identify the needs of the organization. They also develop programs to attract and retain employees.
For example, when an organization wants to expand its operations, the HR manager develops a plan to hire additional employees for expansion needs. They draft strategies to find and attract qualified applicants. HR managers visualize the big picture and ensure that the company has the right mix of people with the right skills.
After the development of the recruitment plan, the HR specialists work to implement the plan to hire competent employees. For this purpose, they create job descriptions, post job advertisements, and conduct interviews. In addition to that, they hire the right candidates for the job. After hiring, HR specialists assist the new employees to fill out paperwork and get them acclimated to the company.
After the completion of the recruitment process comes the onboarding step. HR managers and specialists both equally essential roles in the onboarding process. Onboarding plans are vital to retaining good employees. For this purpose, HR managers and HR specialists work together to create effective employee retention strategies.
Differences Between HR Specialists and HR Managers
HR specialists and managers differ in their responsibilities, skills, focus, knowledge, HR career path, and work methodologies. Let’s learn individually about these factors.
Focus is one of the significant differentiating aspects between an HR specialist and an HR manager. The focus of an HR specialist is on the daily operations of the human resources department. They ensure that all the processes in the department are run in a smooth way.
On the other hand, an HR manager focuses on developing long-term plans for the human resources department. They work with senior managers to identify the workforce needs of the organization. HR managers develop strategies to improve the overall performance of the HR department.
Human resources specialists and managers are two different roles, and hence their skills also differ. Here are the skills that HR professionals look for in a human resource specialist:
- Excellent interpersonal skills
- Ability to communicate with employees at all levels to help them manage the daily operations of the department
- Understanding of employment law to investigate employee complaints and accidents
- Excellent problem-solving skills to help them find solutions to employee complaints
- Strong analytical skills to identify trends in employee performance
HR managers, on the other hand, need the following skills to perform their duties:
- Excellent strategic planning skills help them develop long-term plans for the human resources department
- Proficiency in employee program development to attract and retain employees
- Strong leadership skills to lead and motivate a team of HR specialists
- Analytical skills and critical thinking to identify problems in the department and find solutions
- Deep understanding of the business objectives to develop strategies that align with the organization’s goals
The roles and responsibilities of HR specialists and HR managers vary from organization to organization. An organization’s size is one of the significant factors that affect the duties and responsibilities of HR managers and specialists.
In small organizations, the HR manager overlooks and supervises the HR department. They also perform all the duties and responsibilities of an HR specialist. In such organizations, HR managers develop long-term plans for the department.
However, in large organizations, the HR department is divided into different sections. An HR specialist leads each section. While an HR manager oversees and manages the activities of all the HR specialists and professionals.
There are various certifications available for HR managers and specialists to help them excel in their jobs. Popular certifications for HR specialists are as follows:
- Retirement Plans Associate certification
- Medical Administrative Specialist certification
- Certified Employee Benefit Specialist certification
- Certified Health Service Administrator certification
- Certified Benefits Professional certification
- Group Benefits Associate certification
Popular certifications for HR managers are as follows:
- Certified HR Manager (CHRM) Certification Course
- Senior Professional in Human Resources certification
- Global Professional in Human Resources certification
- Associate Professional in Human Resources certification
- Certified Staffing Professional
- Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP)
Qualification and Experience
Most companies require a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business management, human resources, or a related field for HR specialists. The required experience for HR specialists varies from organization to organization. You must exhibit 2-3 years of experience in the HR field to apply for an HR specialist job.
For HR managers, organizations demand a bachelor’s degree in human resource management or a related field. You must exhibit 3-5 years of experience as an HR professional to qualify for an HR manager’s seat.
The general salaries for HR managers and HR specialists vary based on experience. In general, HR managers earn more than HR specialists.
According to Payscale, an HR specialist’s salary ranges from $40,000 to $76,000 per year in the United States. The average salary of an HR specialist is $54,000 per year with $500-6k as additional allowances.
The base salary of an HR manager is in the range of $50,000 to $98,000 per year. The median salary of an HR manager is $71,000 per year with $1-12k as additional allowances.
HR managers are more senior than HR specialists. If you are a fresher, then the human resource specialist role is a great choice for you to step into HR and progress your career.
Know that HR specialists look after day-to-day HR operations, while HR managers have a senior managerial role. Their duties include managing and supervising HR professionals.
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Here are answers to a few most asked questions regarding these two roles:
What is the difference between HR managers and specialists?
An HR specialist performs the day-to-day tasks of an HR department such as recruiting, training and managing employees. They deal with employee relations and benefits. HR specialists must exhibit excellent communication and interpersonal skills to accomplish these tasks. They also need a good understanding of laws related to HR.
An HR manager oversees the activities of all the staff, HR generalists, HR administrators, and HR specialists. They develop long-term plans for the department. HR managers make sure that the department is running in an efficient way. They report to the director or vice president of the organization. They must exhibit excellent leadership and interpersonal skills.
Is an HR specialist higher than an HR generalist?
Yes, HR specialists are higher than HR generalists in the organizational hierarchy. When it comes to knowledge and carrying out functions, HR specialists are senior to generalists. They exhibit more in-depth knowledge of HR operations.
A human resource generalist has a broad understanding of all the functions of HR. They focus on several human resources management roles.
What is higher than an HR manager?
The HR director, vice president of human resources, and chief human resource officer are senior positions after HR managers. HR executives are responsible for the overall growth and handling of the HR department. They develop and implement strategies for the department. While HR managers only oversee the activities of all the staff, HR generalists, and HR specialists.
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