What Is an HR Generalist? (Duties, Skills and Career Path)
Updated 26 January 2023
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From recruiting new employees to managing employee benefits and performance evaluations, HR generalists perform a wide variety of human resources management tasks for an organisation. While these professionals are generalists, they may have expertise in one or two areas of human resources. Understanding the roles and responsibilities of an HR generalist can help you discover a career path that you may not otherwise consider. In this article, we define what an HR generalist is, review the required responsibilities and skills often listed in a job description and share a step-by-step guide for how to enter this profession.
What is an HR generalist?
An HR generalist is a human resources professional who has fundamental knowledge in a broad array of topics related to employee benefits, compensation, hiring, onboarding and evaluations. These professionals work in HR departments within corporations and work with HR directors to distribute information to department heads about new procedures, payroll changes or hiring needs.
They are accountable for maintaining employee records and auditing employee performances. They can also enforce existing or new policies in a company. HR generalists create and implement various policies that assist in the workflow of the company. The role of an HR generalist is considered a compelling career option for people who have good communication and employee management skills.
Related: Why Is Human Resources Important to Every Organisation?
HR generalist roles and responsibilities
The job of an HR generalist requires them to perform a diverse range of duties. Here are some of their common duties and responsibilities:
plan and implement employee policies
work with the management to develop organisational guidelines
administer human resources plans for all employees in the company
implement and administer compensation programs
draft job descriptions, job offers and termination letters
train and offer support to junior members of the HR team
perform some major activities related to the company's workflow
monitor benefits administration and claims resolution
proactively find ways to improve policies and procedures
build and maintain relationships with recruiting agencies and seek their assistance when necessary
offer advice on employee retention and performance management
conduct recruiting, counselling and exit interviews when necessary
maintain employee records and make decisions to help achieve company goals
research new HR trends
Skills for an HR generalist
An HR generalist often uses these skills to perform their job well:
Communicating effectively with different groups of people is an important skill for HR generalists. They are able to monitor their communication methods to cater to a variety of professional relationships. An HR generalist's job requires them to talk with HR managers, coworkers and company employees daily. So, it is important for them to be able to communicate effectively.
Human resources generalists have an excellent track record of success in multiple operations within the human resource function. They perform activities that involve leadership, cross-functional collaboration, time management abilities and problem-solving skills. Decision-making skills help them solve disputes between coworkers without involving their manager.
Organisational skills help HR generalists keep track of employee information, using tools like payroll software, workforce analytics and document management systems. An organised HR department can help ensure company-wide productivity. For example, an HR generalist might create a digital filing system that separates personal employee data by department. When a member of the accounting department calls to get an employee's tax information, the HR generalist can give them a quick answer.
Most HR generalists use computers and digital technologies to perform their day-to-day job duties. For instance, one day they may input employee data into a computer, and another they may update employee payroll and benefits programs on an application. Computer literacy is also important for them when reviewing performance data ahead of performance evaluations with employees.
Creativity helps HR generalists to improve organisational productivity. These professionals often identify new and unique ways to solve problems and improve the onboarding process. Their creative mind may help them to come up with different types of fun team-building activities.
Related: Top HR Skills and Activities
How to become an HR generalist
Follow these steps to become an HR generalist:
1. Pursue a bachelor's degree in human resources
You can complete a bachelor's degree in human resources or a related field to get into this field. During this course, students are taught various essential topics, such as human resources management, employment law and accounting principles. Many candidates also pursue a diploma course after successful completion of their class 10th examination.
2. Earn certifications in human resources
Although certifications are not usually required to work as an HR generalist, having one can help build your confidence. Many employers prefer hiring HR generalists with a human resources certification. The certification shows that the candidate has gained expertise and experience in human resources principles. Some examples of certifications in human resources and related areas:
Professional in Human Resources (PHR)
Society of Human Resource Management Certified Professional (SHRM-CP)
Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)
3. Join an internship
After earning your bachelor's degree, you can take an entry-level HR job or an internship program. This helps improve your skills and gain some HR work experience. Joining an internship can help you gain an understanding of general human resources procedures and policies.
4. Advance your career in human resources
There are many ways to advance your career in human resources. For instance, pursuing a master's degree in human resources management can help you earn higher pay at your current company. You can also apply for higher or senior-level positions.
Related: How To Become an HR Manager (Duties, Salary and Skills)
What is the average salary of an HR generalist?
The average salary for an HR generalist is ₹20,705 per month. Your salary can vary based on your job profile, skills, location, experience and qualifications. Different job roles in the HR department have different salaries.
Related job roles
If you are working as an HR generalist or have a degree in human resources, you can also consider pursuing these related job roles:
1. Human resources specialist
National average salary: ₹5,62,129 per year
Primary duties: HR specialists may perform a wide variety of duties related to recruiting, employee training, compensation and personnel management. Even though they can serve a generalist, most of them focus on a particular area of human resources management, such as recruitment or employee evaluations. These professionals often work with organisational leaders to create strategies for increasing employee engagement and productivity.
2. Human resources manager
National average salary: ₹25,783 per month
Primary duties: Rather than focusing solely on a particular department, HR managers monitor the overall performance of various departments within an organisation. Their job duties may include hiring new employees, arranging training sessions for new and existing employees and identifying areas of improvement in the current human resources management process. These professionals are often also responsible for conflict resolution within the company.
3. Human resources assistant
National average salary: ₹14,574 per month
Primary duties: Human resource assistants help HR managers in recording maintenance, payroll and recruitment processes. HR assistants provide administrative assistance to other employees. They are in charge of administrative paperwork regarding new hires, termination and benefits.
4. Training and development manager
National average salary: ₹877,785 per year
Primary duties: Training and development managers oversee the training programs in a company. They create course materials and related content for training programs. The training content can be in the form of a video or instructional manual.
FAQs about HR generalists
Here are some frequently asked questions about this profession:
Is HR generalist a good career option?
The human resource generalist career is good for gaining some level of working knowledge and experience in various areas of human resources. As an HR generalist, you run the daily functions of a company, such as interviewing and hiring individuals, administering pay and benefits and enforcing policies and practices of the company. After a few years of experience, you can expect a good salary package.
What level is an HR generalist job?
HR generalist is typically an entry-level job in a human resources department. This job profile offers many opportunities to professionals who want to grow in the human resources field. HR generalists have similar responsibilities to other HR professionals within the workplace.
What is the difference between an HR generalist and an HR specialist?
The functions of an HR specialist are related to the specific subjects. HR generalists perform functions related to a wide range of subjects. Usually, human resources specialists are part of a larger team of HR professionals in big companies. In comparison, HR generalists mainly work in small organisations and startups.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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