The human resources department is what ensures smooth operations, availability of qualified human capital, and strong interpersonal relationships. This department is composed of different positions, such as the HR manager, HRBP, HR generalist, HR analyst, among others. The work completed by these people falls on the shoulders of one person – the human resources director.
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Human resources directors are the heads of the HR department of a company. It’s a step up from the role of an HR manager (however, in some smaller organizations, they are the same titles).
Since different organizations have different takes on the duties and responsibilities of an HR director, things can get a bit confusing. In this article, we’ll provide a clear answer. If you're interested in learning more via video, then watch below. Otherwise, skip ahead.
Let’s get started.
What Does a Human Resources Director Do – Typical Roles in Organizations
“HR director” is an executive position that has fingers in many pies, but mainly deals with allocating budgets and creating strategies.
The main difference between an HR manager and an HR director is their level of authority. The former is involved in day-to-day job functions of the human resources department, while the latter focuses on bigger things, such as developing and enforcing the company's HR goals, policies, and strategies.
In smaller organizations, an HR director performs the functions of both an HR generalist and an HR manager. However, in larger organizations, with more detailed hierarchies, their job functions are distinct and clearly defined.
An HR director oversees hiring and employee relations of all the departments of a company and ensures that they are being managed according to the organization's standards.
They plan, lead, and enforce recruitment, management, and employee relations policies. On the other hand, the HR manager job description mostly entails execution, supervision, and reporting.
Duties and Responsibilities
As highlighted earlier, the duties and responsibilities of an HR director vary according to the size and the type of organization. Considering that, it’s important to understand the standard duties and responsibilities the job entails.
Here are some generic responsibilities that apply to almost every organization, regardless of size or industry:
- Plan, direct, and manage all human resource initiatives, such as recruitment, compensation, benefits, training, and employee relations.
- Implement fair employment practices that meet the needs of the organization.
- Advise managers on employee and labor policies, such as ADA, FMLA, and OSHA.
- Collaborate with other department managers to deliver employee training programs, employee feedback, ensure compliance, and facilitate performance management.
- Ensure employees' adherence to company policies and procedures.
- Oversee staff operations, business planning, and budget development of HR programs.
- Plan, supervise, and contribute insights and recommendations in the development of the organization’s strategies.
- Facilitate HR Managers in dealing with the day-to-day problems and complaints from department employees regarding employee benefits, payroll, and paperwork.
- Establish human resources objectives in accordance with organizational goals, 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.
- Counsel the management of different departments by providing advice on managing employees and cultivating the ideal culture.
- Research, develop, and update the organization’s policies and guidelines.
- Discipline and handle termination of employees as per the organization’s policies.
- Prepare and report the progress of the HR department to the company’s vice president and other stakeholders.
In addition to the above, to uphold an organization’s reputation, human resources directors always accept accountability for their mistakes as well as their accomplishments.
Skills and Abilities
With so many responsibilities on their shoulders, the directors of human resources need to be highly experienced and well-versed in different areas of HRM.
In order to easily fit into this role, an HR director should possess the following skills and abilities:
- Interpersonal skills to effectively manage, interact, negotiate, and communicate with employees.
- Grit and perseverance to lead the HR team and oversee all organization’s operations.
- Strong problem-solving and decision-making skills that ensure successful human resources management.
- Time management skills to handle multiple projects simultaneously and prioritize accordingly.
- Strong written communication skills to maintain large amounts of data and paperwork.
- Knowledge and ability to communicate company policies and enforce decisions within their authority.
- The ability to counsel, motivate, and guide HR staff and managers of other departments to accomplish an organization's goals and objectives.
- Know-how of HRMS (Human Resource Management System) and/or HRIS (Human Resource Information System) software.
- Attention to detail and strong organizational skills to identify, analyze, and resolve all HR-related issues.
- Strong budgeting skills to efficiently manage HR finances and resources.
- Knowledge of local and federal employment laws and regulations.
- Flexibility in order to improve and adapt to the needs and demands of the organization.
- Training and development skills to attract, retain, and maximize employee performance.
Apart from the aforementioned skills and abilities, human resources directors need to be empathetic. Furthermore, since their people skills are directly responsible for their organization’s progress, they should know how to keep the company running as a team.
If you're interested in learning more about the HR role, then check out our certification courses.
How to Become a Human Resources Director
According to PayScale, the national average salary for a human resources director in the United States is $88,871 and the average hourly wage is approximately $22.69. The total number of HR directors in the people operations of miscellaneous companies is around 143,000.
These statistics make the job title of an HR director seem like something to aim for, however, there are certain qualifications you need to have in order to fulfill the criteria of an average human resources director job description.
Human resources directors are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree, and preferably a master’s degree in human resources, industrial psychology, business administration, labor relations, or any other related field.
On top of that, most recruiters prefer prospective employees to have at least 5-7 years of experience (or more) in management positions.
If you’re just starting out in your career, you’ll need to spend some years in the field and slowly rise up the ladder.
On top of that, it is also important to harness the skills needed to perform the job functions of an HR director. Keep yourself up to date and build your resume by participating in conferences, benefit from educational opportunities, and personal networking.
Another way you can get a competitive advantage and further your HR career towards becoming a human resources director is through getting SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management), PHR (Professional in Human Resources), or SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) certifications.
Becoming a Great HR Director
Now that you know what an HR director does, you can easily create an effective job description (or work yourself towards that position, if that’s the next step in your career).
Becoming a great HR director is about understanding the dynamics of your company and adapting to them.
Since HR Directors are executive-level employees that are expected to have a solid understanding and years of experience in all HR functions, you should focus on filling your knowledge gaps and getting the required work experience (or finding a profile that ticks all those boxes, in case you’re headhunting).
Lastly, it’s always best to stay up to date and learn more about your industry, what the jobs of different HR professionals entail, and attend relevant events.
If you are new to Human Resources and are looking to break into a HR 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 has worked in the HR benefits and payroll software industry for the last several years.