More than ever, HR is expected to deliver pragmatic answers to support and add value to the business. I wanted to make a difference, to see something measurable from what I have contributed and that is one reason why HR has fitted me like a glove.
It was not a direct decision that I made. I started out in a different career, as a physiotherapist, measuring improvement in patients by their reporting of reduced pain and increased physical function. In this respect I have brought a scientific approach to my work.
However as a result of an injury to me at work I found that at 22 years old, I was sitting through a meeting with my manager and a representative from HR, and had lost my job and my career.
Somehow I found myself working for a regional charity in the UK, in an operations capacity and eventually as a senior operations manager, liaising with clients funders and customers, managing staff and volunteers, and working closely with the CEO and the Board to develop up-to-date but brand specific policies and procedures that were effective, met legal requirement and yet right for this charity at this time in its lifecycle. But much of my role, as it is with many managers, seemed to be HR.
And that is when I realised that this was where I wanted to be.
I took a CIPD qualification and a few short term assignments before working in industry. This was a great opportunity for me, where I developed my interest in Employee Relations as a specialist, and worked closely with supervisors to develop policies that worked.
My interest in justice in the workplace, and employee voice, developed over this time, and I also started working as an Employment Tribunal Panel Member.
I developed my interest in Employee Relations and Law, taking a Masters programme over 2 and a half years, covering HRM and Employee Relations.
My life has taken a further turn as I moved into education and I have now taught well over 2,000 HR and business professionals!
I always wanted to see a difference. As a physiotherapist I saw this when patients reported that they were feeling better and could do more, or when a patient was discharged after a serious accident. I could make a difference.
What difference could I make as an Employee Relations Specialist in HR?
These are just a few examples –
• Built an effective absence management policy which improved absence levels during a time of restructure and redundancy.
• Developed and supported individual line managers as to feel confident in their ability to manage people issues, making sure that what we all do reflects the values of the organisation.
• Resolved complex conflicts and grievances, attempting to maintain a fair and thoughtful approach to issues.
• Supported and challenged managers as they dealt with issues of diversity, particularly race, gender and disability issues.
HR’s role must first and foremost be to support the competitiveness of the business – survival, and as such we may like to argue that HR has a small but relevant role in supporting our country’s economy.
But we can see that conflict can both have a positive and negative impact on business performance.
My role has also been to ensure that respect and trust is built into the way we all do business so that conflict can help innovation bloom rather than lose the business market position and money. Much of this has achieved by working hard to use my own personal credibility – how I communicate, build relationships and come across as understanding the business and reflecting the values of this business. It is a privileged position to have.
I am author of the two books, Employee Relations and Employment Law – part of the HR Fundamental Series published by Kogan Page to closely support CIPD courses.
(c) New To HR.