The role of HR within the business environment has been transforming rapidly over the past few years and shows no signs of slowing down. HR staff must be ready to assume a variety of traditional and emerging roles to add value to their organizations' leadership and employees. Many must branch out from the traditional roles of technical specialists into the emerging ones of advisor and strategic partner. These roles may have a different focus or be organized differently within various agencies, with a significant number of staff working in the technical specialist role, with fewer numbers focusing on the advisor and strategic partner roles A number of organizations are working towards a model that refocuses their HR staffs on more strategic partner and advisor roles, with fewer serving as the technical experts (and/or combining them with a shared servicing approach). Within each role, there are also leaders/managers who couple their HR expertise with the management of the HR organization.
The foundation to all HR work is the role of technical expert, encompassing one or more of the functional areas. Many HR professionals begin their careers learning and practicing in one area, such as staffing, classification, employee relations, etc., and choose to advance from "technical specialist" through to expert. Some expand their knowledge into other functional areas and become "generalists".
In many organizations, the role of HR also includes serving as advisor on any number of workforce issues including workforce planning; analysis of programs and organizations; organizational dynamics; learning and development; strategic recruitment, accountability; and many other emerging fields. In today's environment, organizations' workforce and workplace issues and concerns have become increasingly complex and HR professionals are ever more relied on to serve as trusted strategic partners. This role appeals to many and involves working closely with management to design solutions to multifaceted issues.
The leadership/management role can be - and often is - incorporated into any of the above roles or stand alone, depending on where in the organization it is found. This role may involve managing projects, managing people, managing systems and/or leading strategically.