HR generalists have complete accountability for the full employee lifecycle – from sourcing potential applicants to managing exits from the organisation. Their main aim is to ensure the organisation achieves its goals by creating - and delivering on - people strategy.

What does an HR generalist do?

HR generalists (sometimes referred to as ‘human resources’ or ‘personnel’) draw from all parts of the specialist areas represented in the people profession (as seen in the CIPD’s new Profession Map). Their priorities are shaped by organisation need. If, for example, an organisation experiencing significant growth requires a heavy focus on resourcing and capability building, they'll draw on the broad expertise of an HR generalist to support across the work, perhaps, but not always in addition to more specialist HR skills.

Generalist people professionals are involved in a wide variety of activities which vary from day to day. One day they could be working with leadership teams on organisation design models; the next they could be dealing with specific disciplinary and grievances cases which have escalated.

A key part of being an HR generalist is the relationships you create across the organisation. This helps you understand the wider priorities and create solutions which achieve the best organisational outcomes.

Your typical activities

Here are some of the activities you can expect to be involved in as an HR generalist:

  • Designing people strategies and plans
  • Creating employee engagement initiatives
  • Creating people policies and procedures
  • Setting up learning and development interventions to meet the needs of the organisation
  • Designing organisational structures with business leaders
  • Using HR information systems to gather people data and insights
  • Creating an employer brand and recruiting to key positions
  • Designing pay scales and benefits packages
  • Identifying and retaining key talent across the organisation.

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Types of roles in human resources

Here is a shortlist of the types of job titles you might find in general HR. As you can see, HR generalists are at all levels of experience and seniority:

  • Human Resources Administrator
  • Human Resources Officer
  • Personnel Manager
  • People Business Partner
  • Human Resources Manager
  • Head of People
  • Director of People.

CIPD Qualifications and courses in human resources

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