Editorial Note: Keeping with tradition, we are bring you new talent first, all the time. Today it is our friend and supporter Janelle Rodriguez, PHR, SHRM-CP. Her complete bio is at the end of this wonder article.
Are you new to human resources? Transitioning from another career? Do feel over your head?
Not to worry, you’re not alone! I too once stood where you stand today and was convinced that I was in over my head! Fresh out of college, I was managing 300+ employees, across 10 states and there was no other HR personnel in sight. All of my HR friends were as new to the field as I was and while I valued their insight, I found that I was in for way more that I bargained for. Over time, I made mistakes, learned a great deal in the process and was exposed to more scenarios in my first year than I thought possible…because at the end of the day I was a COMMITTED HR professional!
I learned a few things about being an HR professional that I didn’t learn in college: sometimes it’s transactional and full of paper. The phrase “document, document, document” was meant just for us! Be prepared to research, ask questions and probe to no end. HR Pros are information gatherers first! Education is key! And I don’t mean traditional schooling – I mean find a mentor, connect with other HR Pros of different industries and levels of tenure, attend conferences, READ BOOKS & articles, stay up to date on trends, listen to podcasts, sit on an HR board or council and be ready to one day pay it forward! Most importantly, make friends with an employment law attorney!
Here are some practical resources that helped keep me focused (and sane) during the start of my HR career:
- I used and abused the shrm.orgwebsite. While there are many HR related sites, this site provided me with valuable templates and guidance to help me draft policies and execute COBRA administration. I considered it my virtual life preserver. Today there are dozens of sites that can provide valuable HR related information, some of my favorites are www.hr.com, www.successinhr.com, and www.hci.org.
- A great payroll outsourcing provider, more importantly a very personable payroll specialist! This individual made miracles happen when technical glitches and severe weather impacted paying employees on time. Don’t be afraid to communicate what you need from your provider and submit feedback about your specialist but don’t forget to show appreciation too! Like HR pros, payroll specialists are often unsung heroes!
- Meet your company’s greatest asset, the employees! Get to know the people you’re supporting and helping on a regular basis. Go on the road, see the faces, shake the hands and remember the names of the people that help keep your company running! There’s nothing more gratifying than finally meeting that employee that you assisted to secure coverage for their new born baby or that office manager you spoke with dozens of times regarding new employee onboarding. Be prepared for the occasional disgruntled employee(s), these are character building experiences and are vital to the success of an HR professional.
- A savvy insurance brokerage firm that understands your business and LISTENS! That person/firm should be willing and able to partner with you when it’s that time to meet with those same employees to deliver the news about insurance plan changes or increases to premiums. Those are one of the hardest face to face meetings to have with employees, so moral support critical. Trust me when I say that that time will come! Like you would any vendor, take the time to communicate your firm’s expectations and preferences, this will be key to a lasting partnership.
- Most important…invest in a work/life balance! Back then that was called “happy hour” or taking a well-deserved vacation. There’s nothing productive about a stressed out, overworked and overwhelmed HR professional!
The bottom line is this: the HR profession is intimidating for any new business professional and you must be ready for the roller-coaster ride. But have no fear, if you’re a people person, then you’re in the right place!
Janelle Rodriguez, PHR, SHRM-CP is a Human Resources Consultant with Paychex, Inc., a nationally recognized payroll & HR outsourcing provider headquartered in Rochester, NY. She has been in the field of human resources for 15+ years in various industries such as high speed technology, power management and payroll outsourcing. Janelle has a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources Management from the University of Central Florida, College of Business and holds the PHR & SHRM-CP certifications. Janelle has been a member of several human resource organizations including: SHRM, SMA of South Florida, HRABC and GMSHRM. She is serving her sixth year on the Board of Directors for Staffing Management Association of South Florida Inc. as the VP of Marketing & Communications.