HR Generalist Job Description: Everything You Need to Know
An HR Generalist job description differs from company to company, depending on the seniority level, the organization size, and the HR operating model. However, some responsibilities, competencies, and qualifications of a Human Resources Generalist role are common across all companies and industries.
In this article, we will discuss some HR generalist duties and skills along with a sample HR generalist job description to help you understand the role better.
A sample HR Generalist job description
An HR Generalist works on people-related tasks and activities in an organization. As the name suggests, HR Generalists support the business from an HR perspective, managing relevant internal and external activities.
HR Generalists manage the employee lifecycle, including employee relations, recruitment, performance management, reward management, and other Human Resources functions in collaboration with HR Specialists. In organizations that do not employ HR Specialists, HR Generalists may own these processes and manage them fully.
HR Generalists wear multiple hats in a day while working with all levels of employees. One day, they could be working with the top management, advising on employee engagement strategy. The next day, they could be onboarding new employees into the organization, depending on the business need.
However, their role varies based on a company’s HR model. If the organization follows an HR business partnering model, HR Generalists support them in partnering with the business leaders. In organizations with no HRBPs, the ownership and accountability of HR Generalists may be higher. In such cases, they directly work with business leaders.
HR Generalist responsibilities
- Supporting top management in decision-making related to people management. This involves applying HR best practices and devising strategies in line with company goals and objectives, ensuring company growth as well as employee wellbeing.
- Managing or supporting HR-related processes, such as employee relations, recruitment, performance management, compensation & benefits, succession planning, and learning & development. In organizations where HR Specialists are employed, HR Generalists play a support role with the above processes.
- Managing employee relations, including employee grievances and disciplinaries. Furthermore, providing advice on employment legislation and keeping up-to-date with employment law while maintaining cordial relationships with internal and external stakeholders.
- Leveraging people analytics and reporting techniques to understand people management indicators. Then, using data to identify solutions to complex people problems.
- Leading or supporting recruitment by identifying relevant candidates, connecting them with the hiring manager, interviewing them, conducting reference checks, issuing offers, drafting contracts, and onboarding them efficiently.
- Participating in the development or improvement of people management processes and related HR technology projects.
HR Generalist skills, competencies, and qualifications
What do you need to be an HR Generalist? Of course, there are certain competencies, skills, and qualifications that help Human Resources Generalists succeed in their jobs. Let’s have a look!
Competencies and skills
1. Business acumen
Business acumen is an essential HR Generalist competency. It is the ability to develop HR policies and procedures in line with an organization’s objectives and goals. The purpose is to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of business processes while assuring employee wellbeing.
HR Generalists are required to identify and interpret external business trends and best practices and apply them in their day-to-day operations. For instance, keeping up with the employment regulations and trends is key to keep things on track. Additionally, keeping the internal and external customers in mind while devising strategies for the business is important to enhance customer satisfaction while personalizing their experience.
2. Data literacy
Analytics is a linchpin of an HR Generalist’s role. Their ability to use HR metrics, KPIs, scorecards, and dashboards to make informed decisions is crucial for creating an effective HR strategy. They may not necessarily work on collecting data and analyzing it. Instead, they are focused on creating business value by effectively using this data in the right form.
3. People advocacy
Being a culture and workplace champion by making employees feel at home is at the core of this HR role. This includes providing mentorship and support to them while helping them resolve a variety of issues. The goal as a people’s advocate is to develop an inclusive organizational culture that is aligned with employees’ values and morals.
4. Risk management
Risk management is about assessing potential risks and working to manage and eliminate them. For an HR Generalist, this primarily involves risks around improper employee management, inefficient recruitment practices, and illicit employee behavior. Managing HR-related risks is important to reduce operational costs and enhance the employer brand.
5. Labor relations management
The ability to manage labor relations is one of the most in-demand competencies by employers. This requires candidates to have a strong technical grasp of employment laws and labor regulations while maintaining cordial relations with employee bodies such as a union. Additionally, this involves maintaining the company’s labor policies, procedures, and programs and making informed decisions about them.
6. Workplace optimization
The work environment significantly contributes to an employee’s productivity and performance. Thus, for an HR Generalist, it is crucial to understand how to improve effectiveness. They identify and understand employee needs at the workplace, build a strong digital employee experience, and analyze staffing needs.
As a result, HR Generalists help build workplaces that boost efficiency and productivity while optimizing costs.
7. Soft skills
While technical skills are important for an HR Generalist, soft skills ensure success in any role. Communications, interpersonal skills, conflict management, teamwork, good listening skills, confidence, and resilience are key in this role. Such skills allow HR professionals to optimize their technical skills and make the most out of them. These not only enhance your productivity as an HR practitioner but also make a positive impact on other employees.
Most organizations require candidates to have at least a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources or a related subject. Many employers also ask for a Master’s degree, while others may consider it desirable.
HR Generalist is not an entry-level role. Thus, candidates are required to have some relevant experience. Depending on the seniority and company size, this could range from 2-5 years or more.
While HR Generalist certification is not required, it can help you stand out from the crowd in the selection process. Additionally, it is a great resource to polish your existing knowledge and update you on the trends in the industry. You can check out AIHR’s HR Generalist Certificate Program to give you the knowledge, tools, and templates you need to succeed as an HR team of one.
HR Generalist salary
According to Payscale.com, an HR Generalist’s salary ranges from $43k to $73k, with the median salary being $53k in the US. Early career professionals with 1-4 years of experience usually earn 49k to 54k. Senior professionals with 5-10 years of experience earn an average of $59k, while more experienced employees earn on the higher side of the range.
Based on data from Salary.com, HR Generalists earn between $53k to $67k, which may vary based on education, experience, and location. According to Glassdoor, an HR Generalist makes an average of $77k/yr in New York while earning about $71k/yr working in Washington DC.
A day in the life of an HR Generalist
Now, let’s see what a day in the life of an HR Generalist typically looks like. However, remember that this may vary depending on your industry, location, and time of the year.
Start your day with an amazing cup of a beverage of your choice. You begin the workday by going through your emails, to-do list, and calendar. You take note of the meetings for the day and plan for all the preparation you need to do.
You’ve recently hired someone. It is now time for you to get them on board officially. So, you work with your team on document verification, orientation, and making sure they have all the information and resources to perform the next step.
Next, you have to pitch in your idea on employee engagement initiatives to your manager. You know employee engagement is essential for productivity and performance. Last week, you sat down with your colleagues to discuss and identify the issues concerning the current employees. Today, you have to present your solution ideas to those issues.
Then, it’s time for your lunch break. You may want to sit with your colleagues for lunch or spend some time alone while eating. You can even go for a walk post-lunch to get some fresh air.
After lunch, you look at your to-do list and start working on high-priority tasks. Next, you meet with the director of your client group to discuss succession planning and how to identify top talent. Lastly, you attend the HR team meeting to learn about everyone’s progress and discuss upcoming work.
Finally, after a long, productive day, it is time for you to go back and take a rest, go to the gym, or buy some groceries for dinner.
Over to you
The role of an HR Generalist is diverse and demanding. A thorough understanding of an HR Generalist job description will allow you to prepare for interviews efficiently and land your dream role with your target employer.
To become an HR Generalist, you typically need at least three years of experience in a similar role with a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree in an HR-related discipline, depending on the target employer. Moreover, you should demonstrate a strong knowledge of HR processes and policies, employment regulations, and managing employees.
HR Generalist core responsibility is to provide HR support to the client group, which could differ based on function or geography. They partner with business leaders to lead the end-to-end employee lifecycle. This includes leading learning and development initiatives, employee engagement exercises, recruitment and talent management, and employee legislation. If an organization has HR Business Partners or HR Specialists employed, HR Generalists collaborate with them on the above processes.
HR Generalists may be managers depending on the role’s seniority and the company’s needs. If they are an individual contributor, they focus on the technical aspects of the job and do not lead a team. On the other hand, if they are managers, they have a team of junior HR professionals.
In smaller businesses, an HR Generalist reports directly to the CEO or the Chief Operations Officer/Director of Operations. In larger organizations with multiple HR employees, an HR Generalist reports to an HR Manager, HRBP, or the Director of HR.