What Does a Human Resources Director Do?

A human resources director is the most senior HR professional in the department and is responsible for taking executive HR decisions regarding policies, practices, and strategies. They are a step up in the hierarchy than HR managers in larger organizations. However, smaller organizations don’t differentiate between the two roles and place them equally.

The human resources department is a crucial part of an organization, and it ensures smooth operations, the availability of qualified human capital, and strong interpersonal relationships. This department consists of several HR professionals, such as the HR manager, HRBP, HR generalist, and HR analyst. However, the work completed by these people is supervised, directed, and assessed by the human resources director.

Since different organizations have different takes on the duties and responsibilities of an HR director, understanding the role and its details can get a bit confusing. Once you know the role better, you’ll be able to ensure the necessary skills and abilities you need to become a talented HR director yourself.

This article will take you through an HR director’s role and how crucial this role is for an organization’s HR department. If you’re interested in learning more via video, then watch below. Otherwise, skip ahead.

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Human Resources Director vs. Other HR Roles

The human resources director is an executive position with many different obligations but mainly deals with allocating budgets and creating strategies. It requires strong organizational skills, an acute sense of business administration, and solid leadership skills. Therefore, HR professionals become directors only after gaining years of professional experience and significant academic achievements, such as a master’s degree in human resources.

The main difference between HR managers and human resources directors is their level of authority. HR managers are involved in the day-to-day job functions of the human resources department.

At the same time, HR directors focus on more crucial matters, such as developing and enforcing the company’s HR policies, setting attainable human resources goals, and creating a strategy to efficiently manage HR finances. In addition, they plan, lead, and enforce recruitment, management, and employee relations policies. On the other hand, the HR manager’s job description entails executing and supervising plans while reporting back to the HR director.

An HR director oversees the long-term hiring strategies and employee relations with all the other departments. Therefore, the role requires considerable interpersonal skills as well. Additionally, hr directors ensure that the human resources department and its workings are according to the organization’s standards and culture.

It takes years of professional HR experience and significant technical knowledge to achieve an HR director opportunity. You can start your HR education journey by taking our top-quality certifications at HR University.

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Duties and Responsibilities of a Human Resources Director

The HR director is one of the most senior stakeholders in the organization. Their decision-making directly impacts the organization’s labor relations, and they are directly accountable for all human resources programs. Since it is one of the most critical management positions, it is crucial to understand how serious the responsibilities associated with the role are.

Some responsibilities that are part of all human resources director job descriptions are explained below.

Lead the Planning and Growth of the HR Department

The HR director has to oversee each working detail of the HR department and ensure it is following best practices. They have to play a significant role since they are a significantly senior professional in human resources and are answerable for the department’s performance. Some crucial duties HR directors have towards their department are as follows:

  • Plan, direct, and manage all human resource initiatives, such as recruitment, compensation, benefits, training, and employee relations.
  • Oversee staff operations, business planning, and budget development of HR programs.
  • Establish human resources objectives following organizational goals along with federal, state, and local legal requirements.
  • Implement human resources strategies through department accountabilities for (not limited to) talent acquisition, compensation and benefits, training and development, employee retention, and AA/EEO compliance.

The HR director also has to prepare extensive reports detailing the HR departments’ progress and highlighting its achievements. However, they also need to discuss its shortcomings and their strategy for addressing them. Thus, the role requires strong leadership and organizational skills.

Contribute to Developing Organization-Level Strategies

The HR director is also one of the senior executives within the organization and has to handle the responsibilities that come with that part. They must counsel the management of different departments by providing advice on managing employees and cultivating the ideal culture.

Additionally, they have to research, develop, and update the organization’s policies and guidelines wherever they can. After all, the senior leadership decides the direction of the organization’s business administration. The HR director also has to plan, supervise, and contribute insights and recommendations to develop the organization’s growth strategies.

Supervise and Guide HR Managers

HR managers work directly under the HR director and handle the daily functioning of the HR department. Therefore, the HR director has to mentor them and make crucial decisions.

Additionally, the HR director has to advise managers on essential aspects like employee and labor policies, such as ADA, FMLA, and OSHA. They also have to facilitate HR managers in dealing with the day-to-day problems and complaints from department employees regarding employee benefits, payroll, and paperwork.

Collaborate With Fellow Department Heads

Since an HR director is one of the department heads in the organization, they can support fellow directors in their planning. HR directors should collaborate with other department managers to plan and deliver employee training programs, give employees feedback, ensure compliance with labor laws, and facilitate performance management.


Human resource directors are the most important source of opinion for the human resources of a department. Additionally, they are knowledgeable in labor relations and handling tricky human resources scenarios. Therefore, an organization should prioritize hiring a skilled HR director to have an efficient HR department and a distinctive culture.

Becoming a great hr director requires you to have many different skills. However, people skills are the most important for them. After all, a significant part of their job description is dealing with personnel on the same hierarchy level or lower.

Thus, human resources directors need strong interpersonal skills to succeed, apart from years of experience as an HR professional.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most common questions about the HR director position:

Can an Organization Have a Human Resources Department Without a Director?

With an HR director being a constant and consistent source of guidance, organizations have an easier time running an effective HR department. However, many small organizations have an HR manager who handles the same responsibilities as an HR director, albeit on a smaller scale. Therefore, while it is possible to have an HR department without a director, it would not be straightforward for larger organizations.

How Crucial Is the HR Director Role Within Human Resource Management?

The HR director role is at the top of the human resource management chain. They take the major decisions regarding the whole department, and junior personnel implements these decisions. Therefore, the HR director is essential for an HR department to move in a particular direction.

If you are new to Human Resources and are looking to break into an HR director 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 a great HR resume, and create a successful job search strategy.

Josh Fechter
Josh Fechter is the founder of HR.University. He's a certified HR professional and has managed global teams across 5 different continents including their benefits and payroll. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.