What Does a Human Resources (HR) Manager Do?

A basic HR manager job description depicts a candidate who can supervise the company’s recruitment, hiring, interviewing, onboarding, and training processes. Human resources managers may assume expanded responsibilities—assisting with employee performance reviews and promotions, handling disciplinary measures and terminations, or mediating coworker disputes. A team player, the HR manager connects executive leadership with employees to improve engagement and retention while ensuring privacy, safety, and fairness in the workplace.   

Duties and Responsibilities of a Human Resources Manager

Human resources managers are planners, coordinators, and leaders, responsible for some or all of the following duties:

1. Recruiting New Employees

Sometimes called recruiting or staffing managers, human resources managers identify and address the staffing needs of their company. Through close collaboration with hiring managers and department heads, the HR manager determines which traits and skills are needed for a specific role and to improve overall quality of work and company efficiency. They remain current with the latest tools, technologies, and resources for sourcing talent. HR managers often oversee the entire recruitment process, from writing and posting job descriptions to scheduling and conducting interviews and coordinating new hire orientations.  HR managers are also trained to scout diverse talent and foster an inclusive workplace.

2. Serving as Links Between Management and Employees

Skilled communicators can make for strong human resources managers, as they are tasked with relaying important information from C-suite executives and management to employees. They may be called upon to help draft fair policies, deliver valuable training materials, or communicate changes affecting the workplace. 

3. Administering Payroll, Training, and Benefits

Large organizations may have dedicated payroll managers to supervise payroll processing, manage time cards, review employee business expenses, prepare reports for accounting, distribute checks to employees, and resolve other issues that arise. Human resources managers educate employees on benefits available to them under their contracts of employment, facilitating signup or de-enrollment as needed. Oftentimes, a human resources manager is the point person when an employee wants to retire or take maternity, paternity, or bereavement leave. HR managers make sure there are sufficient education and advancement opportunities available to employees. They also oversee health and safety training and other related programs to ensure compliance with government regulations.

4. Reinforcing Company Culture 

Not only do human resources managers play a key role in attracting quality talent to an organization, but they are also responsible for sharing company norms, values, and vision in day-to-day employee communications. How HR managers onboard, train, and respond to employees can have a considerable impact on employees’ perceptions of the company culture. HR departments typically organize reward systems, recognition programs, and team-building events to engage and retain employees, while fostering high morale and a healthy company culture.  

5. Resolving Disputes Among Employees

When coworkers don’t get along, a human resources manager uses decision-making skills and negotiation tactics to determine the best course of action per company policy. Employees may need to be disciplined, transferred to another role or department, or even terminated. Human resources managers are expected to act impartially—following procedures, holding parties accountable for their actions, and de-escalating tensions to keep teams running smoothly. 

6. Reducing Company Costs

The human resources department is involved in strategic business functions. As such, human resources managers have opportunities to conserve resources. Within their own departments, HR managers might implement innovative technology to automate everyday tasks and consolidate activities like training and team outings to maximize internal resources. At a time when management is called on to do more with less, HR managers have the opportunity to demonstrate their value by reducing costs across the organization. 

 7. Settling Employee Grievances

When employees are unhappy about compensation, benefits, workload, work hours, a coworker’s behavior, or a manager’s demeanor, human resources managers step in to act as liaison. Their goal is to mitigate employee grievances and improve trust. Two specialized HR job titles are labor relations director and employee relations manager. Both roles call for negotiating, drafting, and administering labor contracts covering wage, benefit, union, and management practices. They may handle informal employment disputes or coordinate formal labor grievance procedures, whether in unionized or non-unionized settings. 

Daily Activities of an HR Manager

So, what does a human resources manager do on a daily basis? The daily activities of an HR manager may include the following: 

  • Setting hiring targets and overseeing the recruitment process.
  • Communicating to staff and employees across different channels.
  • Conducting meetings to assess company needs and concerns.
  • Determining the best course of action in challenging situations or employee disagreements.
  • Leading teams through onboarding and training procedures.
  • Writing job descriptions, memos, interview questionnaires, and performance review templates.
  • Planning and overseeing employee benefits programs.

Skills HR Managers May Need

Human resources managers leverage a range of skills to complete key tasks and projects. Here are some skills human resources managers use most often: 

  • Communication skills: Excellent organizational and interpersonal communication skills help HR professionals multitask and interact with staff daily. 
  • Interpersonal skills: Increasingly, employers are looking for candidates who can demonstrate active listening, empathy, and emotional intelligence in dealing with others. 
  • Leadership skills: HR managers are strong decision-makers who don’t shy away from analysis or conflict resolution—confidently using their leadership capabilities to match problems with solutions. 
  • Technical skills: Knowledge and experience in accounting and human resources information management software are assets that can help HR managers.

The daily work of HR managers can be busy and demanding but also potentially rewarding. Students who pursue an advanced degree in human resources management can gain the knowledge and skills needed to perform a variety of tasks and do well in their responsibilities. The online master’s in human resources from the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School teaches aspiring HR managers valuable lessons in organizational behavior, employment law, leadership and ethics, talent management, strategic human resources, and much more.  

Careers in HR Management

If you are interested in becoming a human resources manager, it’s important to consider which HR management positions might align best with your goals. You may also find it useful to consider the benefits of each role. For example, an HR consultant job might allow you to provide specialized services or design your own work schedule. 

Find information below on earning potential and job outlook for human resources managers. 

How Much Does a Human Resources Manager Typically Make?

Pay varies by geographical region and setting, but a human resources manager is generally considered a well-paying position with base salary plus benefits, and in some cases, bonuses and profit shares. The median annual salary for human resources managers nationwide was $121,220 in May 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The lowest 10% of managers earned less than $71,180, and the highest 10% earned more than $208,000. 

What’s the Job Outlook for HR Managers?

The BLS predicts employment of human resources managers will grow 9% from 2020 to 2030, which is about as fast as the average across all occupations. Each year, the labor market could see 14,800 HR manager job openings as workers switch occupations or retire. 

As of May 2020, there were 22,420 human resources managers in California. CareerOneStop projects 26,200 people will be employed as HR managers in California by 2028.

What Are the Education Requirements to Become an HR Manager?

At minimum, most candidates will need a bachelor’s degree in business, communications, or psychology and several years of related internship or work experience. Some positions require a master’s degree in business administration, human resources, or labor relations, which can be obtained in person or online.

Managers may start out as human resources assistants, human resources specialists, labor relations specialists, operations analysts, operations coordinators, or project managers. 

Certification is voluntary, but may be obtained through the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the HR Certification Institute (HRCI), WorldatWork, or the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP). Different certifications have specific prerequisites, some of which can be fulfilled by completing a master’s degree. 

Should You Go into HR Management?

Individuals who pursue a career in HR management may gain unique insights into the inner workings of a business and can make a difference in the lives of many. After completing a bachelor’s degree, you can pursue a flexible, online master’s in human resources from the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School—tending to work or family obligations while bringing your future employment goals within reach.  

To learn more about the diverse range of programs available at Pepperdine Graziadio, explore our online or in-person degree programs. 

Last updated February 2022.