The primary tasks of an HR department used to involve administering payroll and employee benefit schemes, and occasionally planning company outings. These days, the field of human resources is about more than the mechanics of hiring and firing, benefits packages and regulatory compliance. Human resources professionals are more likely to be strategic partners to their business colleagues.
In today’s knowledge-based economy, human resources departments are also vital drivers of innovation in the workplace, said Claudia Schwartz, principal consultant for HR Results, a human resources consulting firm in San Diego.
“For so long business leaders have said, ‘People are our greatest asset,’” she said. “Now they are finally realizing that it’s true.”
Because of that, companies increasingly need human resource professionals who can help find and elevate the talent, or the people, they need to compete. But that’s not all. Human resource professionals must also create a culture where employees are engaged in the organization’s mission and prepared to handle the constantly changing marketplace.
“Companies are looking for HR professionals who can be leaders and catalysts to meet their strategic business goals,” Schwartz explained. “It’s not just about managing or preserving business assets anymore. It is about adding to those assets and helping grow revenue, while strengthening the company’s brand.”
Of course, those in human resources must still manage an organization’s benefits and compensation programs, employee and labor relations, health and safety issues, and state and federal legislation.
The increasing importance of human resources to a company’s competitiveness and the rebounding economy is boosting the demand in the HR field.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for human resource managers are expected to grow 13 percent nationwide between 2012 and 2022. In San Diego County, the employment for human resource managers is expected to grow by more than 26 percent between 2012 and 2022. In addition, the state’s Employment Development Department estimates the median annual salary for the human resource manager in San Diego County is around $112,000 a year.
Schwartz said the changing nature of human resources is creating opportunities for those who are interested in making a career switch because companies are looking for people who can understand and integrate its strategic business goals into its HR operations.
For instance, someone who is a director of business operations could move into a human resource role, she said, because that person would have the needed insight into an organization’s strategic goals.
To help better prepare people for the changing nature of human resources, UC San Diego Extension recently updated its human resources certificate program to provide the both practical and leadership skills companies are now expecting. To find out more about the program, visit extension.ucsd.edu/HR.