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6 Things Every HR Leader Should Be Doing

HR Manager

As soon as HR steps into a meeting or is seen walking down the corridor, the whispers begin.

“What do HR people do?”

The department of human resources is often confusing for both managers and staff. People don’t know when to go to HR, or if HR is their friend or enemy.

HR is there for the benefit of employees, managers, and the business, for practical tasks and strategic advice or simply support and guidance, no matter what your role in the business is.

What Does Human Resources Do?

Before we dive into knowing human resources tasks for success, we need to answer the question, “what does human resources do?”.

The common answer to the question is ‘recruitment’, quickly followed by ‘prepare policies’. The truth is HR does far more than that. 


Human resources can also seem rather daunting to some. A group of people in dark suits that sit in an offsite building waiting to fire you. But human resources is just that, a resource! HR should function as the guiding compass in any business because they are a resource and support for the most important assets of an organisation – it’s people!

So “what does the HR department do”? Here are some fairly common responsibilities of HR in most organisations:

  • Onboarding and inducting employees
  • Listening to employee concerns
  • Mediating disputes between employees
  • Managing compensation and benefits for employees
  • Facilitating training
  • Reviewing workforce metrics and data
  • Succession planning
  • Address poor behaviours and performance issues

All of these functions are important, but by taking things a little bit further, HR has the ability to really make a positive impact on employees and the business as a whole.

Now, let’s dive into six things that HR can be doing to make a difference.

6 Things Every HR Leader Should Be Doing

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6 Things Every HR Leader Should Be Doing

As soon as HR steps into a meeting or is seen walking down the corridor, the whispers begin.

“What do HR people do?”

The department of human resources is often confusing for both managers and staff. People don’t know when to go to HR, or if HR is their friend or enemy.

HR is there for the benefit of employees, managers, and the business, for practical tasks and strategic advice or simply support and guidance, no matter what your role in the business is. 

What Does Human Resources Do?

Before we dive into knowing human resources tasks for success, we need to answer the question, “what does human resources do?”.

The common answer to the question is ‘recruitment’, quickly followed by ‘prepare policies’. The truth is HR does far more than that. 

Human resources can also seem rather daunting to some. A group of people in dark suits that sit in an offsite building waiting to fire you. But human resources is just that, a resource! HR should function as the guiding compass in any business because they are a resource and support for the most important assets of an organisation – it’s people!

So “what does the HR department do”? Here are some fairly common responsibilities of HR in most organisations:

  • Onboarding and inducting employees
  • Listening to employee concerns
  • Mediating disputes between employees
  • Managing compensation and benefits for employees
  • Facilitating training
  • Reviewing workforce metrics and data
  • Succession planning
  • Address poor behaviours and performance issues

All of these functions are important, but by taking things a little bit further, HR has the ability to really make a positive impact on employees and the business as a whole.

Now, let’s dive into six things that HR can be doing to make a difference.

1. Understand the Numbers

One of the most important jobs of an HR leader is managing the numbers. It isn’t the natural inclination for many HR people, but money matters are not just for the finance team. In fact, the involvement of HR in finance and payroll is vital for team morale and for business viability. Everyone wants to know that they’re getting paid fairly, on time, and the correct amount, so always take a second look at the numbers. 

The accuracy of payroll and the roster is ultimately the responsibility of HR and getting it wrong can be costly from a financial, reputation, and legal perspective.

Business leaders need the confidence that no underpayment risks lurk under the surface and therefore, thorough, deep-dive audits are the only way to go.

Senior HR needs to have an understanding of budgets, savings, and cost down strategies in order to make valuable contributions to business objectives.

If you know that numbers aren’t the strong suit of your HR team, it’s vital that you have a second pair of eyes to take a look over everything. Better yet, know when to ask for help and bring in an expert!

2. Use Technology to Automate and Streamline

We live in a world where we can automate everything. By harnessing technology HR can support employees to excel in their roles by removing the mundane and limit manual errors.

Ask yourself, what opportunities are there for using technology to streamline operations, to break down silos, and to increase efficiency? There are so many opportunities for technology to support human capital management through all aspects of the employee lifecycle but you need to be smart and cyber aware.

Here are a few ideas to consider to automate your processes and keep people processes running smoothly. These will not only help you speed up your workflow but they’ll improve accuracy, data consistency, and they’ll keep everyone’s data more secure. 

  • HRIS: A robust HR Information System should be your ‘source of truth’ for all employee records. It merges essential HR functions into one universal, cost-effective system.
  • Payroll – Taxation, Superannuation, Fringe Benefits… there is a range of forms, processes, and documents that are often printed out and managed manually when electronic options are more efficient, secure, and environmentally friendly! 
  • Self Service – normally a part of a good HRIS, the ability for employees to access their own information about leave, taxation, and personal details is a must for all HR teams.
  • Forms and workflow
  • Learning and Development – there are so many methods of training delivery that are more engaging than classroom facilitation. Furthermore, conducting training online makes record management a breeze.

3. Take a Helicopter View of Your Structure

When was the last time that you did a holistic organisational review? 

Businesses grow bit by bit and as they naturally evolve, they absorb inefficiencies which become an unnecessary part of the organisational fabric and function. 

Regular helicopter reviews are vital for streamlined, efficient, and cost-effective organisations, reducing silos and duplication of effort. Take a holistic view to see where resources can be shared between functions and teams.

This might mean combining departments, reassigning roles, or merging two jobs into one or vice versa. Like organisms, organisations grow with what’s available and with what’s needed, so you absolutely need to accommodate these changes. 

4. Be a Full Partner

“What does HR do?” Human resources are so much more than recruitment, employee engagement, and compliance. It is the sum of all of these things and more, and therefore, human resources are imperative to the success of a business. 

Your business will not function without people, but people need structure, rules, engagement, and so on. HR is the translator between employees and business outcomes and vice versa. Experienced HR professionals have the ability to completely transform a business’ entire workforce in ways that streamline processes and improve employee productivity, all of which contribute to minimised operational costs.

If you’re an HR leader, you need to be sure that you’re embodying all of these roles. If you’re looking to hire an HR manager, someone with commercial acumen as well as HR expertise can really be the difference between a highly successful HR department, and one that barely gets by.

5. Get Out of the Office

Employees often think of going to HR as akin to being sent to the principal’s office, as obstacles to getting something done, or the fun police. 

But what do human resources do? What they should be doing is getting involved! 

Ditch the surveys and walk the floor to understand the real issues of the business and concerns of employees. Workers will become more familiar with you and ask questions, and you will become more familiar with the context of the issues you must deal with. Employees will appreciate your presence and managers will get more comfortable with your ideas. You’ll soon be seen as part of the team rather than the HR person who hides behind the policies. 

This gives HR a chance to handle issues before they become major problems and makes it easier to resolve issues since you’ll already be a familiar face.

6. Takes Risks and Be Practical

Most HR professionals are risk-averse, probably because they’re not encouraged (or trusted) to take risks. But a strong HR professional will know when to take chances and the value that can result. This isn’t about bending the rules or breaking the law, but understanding it well enough to provide practical, commercially astute advice.

This goes for everything from engaging with the rest of the team to trying out new software to automate the workflow. Take those risks and see where they take you!

Ready For HR Success?

Now that you know how to answer the question, “what do human resources do”, dive into these tactics to find further success as a human resources leader.

If all that you’ve read sounds great but you don’t have anyone to fulfill the role of a human resources leader or you’re looking to get professional advice on how to implement these strategies, look no further than Red Wagon Workplace Solutions. 

Red Wagon Workplace Solutions is the brainchild of Susan Sadler and was created to address an opportunity in the market for straight-talking, commercially astute HR advice and strategy.

A psychology graduate who later completed her master’s in human resource management coupled with extensive experience in the Corporate world as Human Resources Manager and Director, has formulated Susan’s practical, honest approach to adding HR value. Hugely professional, with a dose of infectious fun, Susan’s strength lies in building relationships to become your trusted HR partner, understand your business, and deliver outstanding results.

As President and South Australian State Councillor of the Australian HR Institute (AHRI), Susan is a valued advisor and thought leader to her clients and the HR community. Maintaining an extensive understanding of employment law and business acumen through her work and connectivity to HR and IR professional associations and the business community, Susan is a master at finding innovative people orientated solutions, carefully balanced with the commercial reality.


Book a FREE 40-minute consultation with Susan today to cut through the confusion, and dial in on the value that a human resources partner would add to your business.


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