GUIDE 2022

What Does an HR Generalist Do?

There are many different roles in a Human Resource department, each with its own set of roles, responsibilities. However, one of the most versatile and intensive HR jobs that you can go for includes that of an HR generalist.

This is because of the vast array of responsibilities that fall under them, be it something they have to do themselves or simply supervisory.

Here, we will discuss the HR Generalist job description and elaborate on their roles, responsibilities, qualifications, and what they really do as HR professionals.

Let’s dive right in.

What is an HR Generalist?

HR Generalists are human resource specialists who perform the majority of all HR functions on a day-to-day basis.

They conduct or supervise almost everything related to HR on the general management level. This includes hiring practices, employee compensation, evaluation, and even employee firing.

It is important for HR generalists to be multi-taskers and be able to focus on more than one human function at a time.

It is their responsibility to keep track of what is going on in the organization, how employees are behaving, what (if anything) is bothering employees, and most importantly, fine-tuning and crafting HR policies.

HR Generalist Responsibilities

When discussing the responsibilities of an HR generalist, it is natural to assume that the larger an organization, the more responsibilities they will have.

However, if we categorize all of those responsibilities, they can be broken down into administration, managing employee relations, and recruiting.

At the end of the day, their goal is to make sure the HR department runs efficiently and delivers value to the organization.

Here is a list of functions you will have to perform as an HR generalist.

  • Managing employee benefit plans and compensation
  • Talent acquisition initiatives and crafting a recruitment process
  • Conducting employee onboarding and exit interviews
  • Supporting employees and the management with their issues
  • Bridging the gap between employees and the management
  • Managing casual, sick, annual, and any other leaves as necessary
  • Promoting HR programs and creating a conflict-free workplace
  • Developing, implementing, and modifying company policies
  • Ensuring that employees observe all current policies
  • Overseeing performance management
  • Employee analysis
  • Gathering useful HR metrics such as hiring time, employee turnover, employee satisfaction, reasons for turnover, employee outreach, and recruiting process perception
  • Organizing meetings, quarterly performance reviews, and appraisals
  • Maintaining employee files (electronic or paper) and update employee records regularly
  • Helping managers create teams and organize them
  • Staying up to date with the labor regulations and make sure the organization is in compliance with them
  • Managing staffing logistics, organizational space management, and planning
  • Liaising with the administration department
  • Implementing and managing improvement systems
  • Gearing employee hiring practices to organization’s development and expansion goals
  • Conducting regular employee training sessions and observing employee relationships with each other
  • Facilitating communication between the company and existing, potential, as well as ex-employees
  • Ensuring employee safety and welfare

This list might seem exhaustive but surprisingly, it isn’t. While it includes many functions that HR generalists need to perform, this isn’t the extent of it.

HR Generalist as Recruiters

As evident from the list above, HR Generalists are responsible for recruiting.

Depending on the company’s size, HR managers may be handling the process on their own but in larger organizations, this falls in the bucket of responsibilities of HR Generalists.

As far as recruiting is concerned, HR generalists need to:

  • Find new candidates
  • Sift through resumes and filter out those that don’t meet the requirements
  • Conduct screening interviews and tests (this may be done on the phone)
  • Schedule technical interviews (this may be included within a physical screening interview)
  • Handle employment offer(s) and handle negotiations
  • Conduct background checks as per company policies
  • Create and manage employee records
  • Advise HR managers and company executives on candidates
  • Handle immigration for international employees

Recruiting is perhaps the most visible part of what an HR Generalist does, which is why they’re often associated simply with recruitment.

However, this also means that it’s critical for those looking to become HR Generalists to have a strong eye for judging character.

HR Generalists as (Benefits) Administrators

One of the ‘hidden’ roles of the HR department is to handle all the benefits offered to employees. The most important of these benefits is healthcare.

HR Generalists must negotiate with benefits providers to find the most cost-effective, efficient, and ‘premium’ solution so that they can eventually improve the overall image of their organization.

Since HR generalists are the first point of contact between employees and the company, they need to know everything about the benefits being offered.

This means that they need to be aware of all the integral aspects of the benefits offered, so that they can answer all employee inquiries to the fullest.

Benefits that HR Generalists must look into include, but aren’t limited to;

  • Healthcare
  • Pensions
  • Retirement plans
  • Onsite daycare
  • Free lunches
  • Company cars
  • Anything else in lieu of salary
  • Provident funds

They are responsible for handling the administration side of these benefits on behalf of the organizations.

One thing that most people don’t know about salary in terms of these benefits is that it is the responsibility of HR generalists to look into the benefits list of competitors and make recommendations to the HR manager.

HR Generalists in (Absence) Administration

As mentioned above, leaves also fall under the umbrella of HR generalists.

This includes all sorts of leaves of absence, such as casual, medial, annual, maternity/paternity, leaves for religious reasons, and more.

HR generalists are directly held responsible for any issues with the paperwork and government regulations in relation to leaves. They will be responsible for overviewing the reasoning and approve said leaves.

HR Generalists for Employee Relations

This is perhaps the most complex role of an HR generalist. Managing employee relations requires tact and a keen eye/ear for detail.

Employee relations may include:

Management Training: Whether it’s an employee who just joined the organization or one who has been with the company for quite a while, it is the responsibility of HR generalists to handle management training and give feedback to employees, not to mention their role in making improvements into the program. This means that HR Generalists must be experts in;

Harassment & Discrimination Mitigation. This may include a wide range of issues that can arise in the workplace, such as bullying, sexual advances and harassment, discrimination based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, language, gender, race, and social standing

Handle Misconducts: Misconduct includes theft, violence, general rudeness and intolerant behavior, as well as mental, verbal, or physical abuse. There could also be other forms of misconduct, as defined by the host company.

Helping Employees Create Improvement Plans: HR generalists act as the bridge between management and employees, working with both parties to create plans for employees to help them improve. Performance management is a major part of this responsibility. They first observe an employee’s performance and then try to negotiate a better compensation package or benefits for the employee, based on that performance.

Employee Dismissal: This is perhaps one of the most difficult parts of being an HR generalist — telling someone they are fired. This becomes even more difficult when they are being fired for something menial after being loyal to the company for years. This is why HR generalists, and in fact all HR professionals need to have tact and empathy when dealing with layoffs.

Conducting Exit Interviews: As an HR generalist, you will be responsible for learning more about why the employee is leaving and what, if anything, can be done to change their mind.

Requirements for Becoming a HR Generalist

Now that we know what an HR Generalist does, let us consider what you need to become one.

In most cases, employers looking for an HR Generalist will be looking for:

  • Some years of experience in a human resource department
  • Understanding of HR functions such as benefits administration and new hire problem-solving
  • Familiarity with employment law and labor law
  • Working knowledge of HRIS and
  • Excellent communication skills and
  • HR certification such as SHRM Basics, HRCI, or PHR.

Most companies ask for at least a bachelor’s degree as an eligibility criterion for the role of HR Generalist.

However, the trend is slowly but surely changing as organizations now rely on personal characteristics and knowledge more than a degree.

The degree must be in human resources or organizational development in which your course work must include business, psychology, communication, human Resource management, and accounting.

Some high-profile companies may also prefer a master’s degree.

How Much Do HR Generalists Make?

According to Glassdoor, the median yearly salary for a human resources generalist is $59,517.

Additionally, according to PayScale, the HR generalist job comes with additional bonuses such as $24,000 in commissions and $5,000 in profit-sharing, all part of a basic HR generalist salary.

Bottom Line

HR Generalists are an invaluable part of any company’s HR department, regardless of its size and number of employees overseeing HR operations.

They aren’t just responsible for keeping the organizations in line with any relevant laws but also help bridge the gap between the management and employees.

While going the HR Generalist route, some other notable careers you can look into include compensation and benefits manager, human resources manager, labor relations specialist, and training and development specialist to name a few.