An effective Human Resources department will usually employ a variety of different roles, encompassing the full scope of Human Resources activity within a company.
As well as performing their daily duties within the Human Resources team, a HR advisor often acts an intermediary between other business departments and the HR team, and will often act as the first point of contact for line managers and other middle managers throughout the company.
Therefore, while an advisor is an intrinsic piece of the HR dpeartment jigsaw, they will often find themselves working closely with other teams throughout the business, such as commercial, operations and procurement, amongst others.
Working across departments
To take just two examples of how an HR advisor may effectively perform their duties, please consider the following scenarios:
1. A HR advisor may act as a line manager's first point of call in employee-realted matters. If the line manager requires quick, accurate advice on the best method of dealing with a specific employee's continued absence from their duties, the company HR advisor is likely to be the first person that they contact.
2. If a middle manager has an unofficial grievance against a senior manager and, rather than make an official complaint to the HR team, they would prefer to receive advice on how best to deal with the situation, the HR advisor is again likely to be the first person who can offer this.
In both of these instances, it would be the HR advisor who would resolve each situation to the best of their abilities. In neither case is the situation likely to be escalated to HR management level, and only infrequently will the advisor need to take formal action.
Contrary to public opinion, Human Resources departments do not enjoy escalating trivial issues, reprimanding employees and increasing staff turnover for the business!
On a day-to-day basis, the HR advisor is employed to ensure that employees have an available source of advice and understanding – as mentioned above, only occasionally must situations be escalated and dealt with more formally.
Working in the Human Resources Team
While the points we have just covered are intrinsic to successfully undertaking an advisory role in the HR department, it should be remembered that this is usually only around 50% of a HR advisor's actual job.
As well as overseeing company-wide situations, they also have their own daily tasks within the HR team, which are necessary to ensuring the overall success of the department.
While HR is often viewed as a dry, monotonous subject, nothing could be further from the truth, and you are likely to discover that no two days work are exactly the same, particularly when working within larger companies.
Daily tasks which advisors may undertake within their own team include:
- Writing and reviewing company policies and procedures, ready for management approval
- Ensuring that all employee records remain up to date and legally cover the company
- Taking notes/acting as a witness at investigatory/disciplinary meetings
- Organizing, planning, undertaking and overseeing company training courses
The above are only a handful of tasks which a HR advisor may perform on any given day, but they should serve to give you an indicative flavour of the role.
Who does a HR advisor report to?
Depending upon the size and structure of the company, a HR advisor most often reports directly to the HR Manager, although sometimes they may report to the HR Director, a Senior HR Advisor, or to the General Manager in smaller companies.
However, HR advisors tend to be given a certain level of autonomy in which to do their jobs, and often the level of reporting required will be nothing more than a morning meeting, or a daily email regarding the events of the day.
Only in exceptional circumstances would an HR advisor expect to be micro-managed through a project, most likely when there is a threat of litigation, or a severe threat to the company's reputation or financial standing.
Does a HR advisor have any direct reports?
Depending upon the size of the company, a HR advisor may well have a HR generalist reporting to them. The HR generalist's role is similar to that of an advisor, but they may be assigned to 'lower-priority' tasks than the advisor themselves.
However, in most smaller companies, the HR advisor will not have the luxury of a direct report, and will be responsible for the majority of employee undertakings experienced by the company.