The Brave, New Frontier of HR 

HR has rapidly evolved over the last several years. The job and responsibilities of the average HR professional have expanded exponentially, and the expectations of their skill set have never been higher. The role that once focused on recruiting, hiring, and compliance, now incorporates a much broader scope of work that impacts businesses from top to bottom.

The landscape of today’s HR requires real leadership, and an ability to manage a multitude of responsibilities.


The HR role of yesterday served a payroll function, while maintaining compliance law so that the company didn’t get sued. HR professionals also served as policy gatekeepers while being heavily involved in the recruiting process. The processes to bringing on new hires ended quickly upon hiring, as managers took over the integration process for those new employees, and HR went back to finding a candidate for the next open position.

HR leaders today have to be astute in the art of leadership. There’s an old saying that goes, “You manage things, but you lead people.” There is a distinct difference between the two. We now live in a world that offers many benefits to the average worker. With remote work available, and more companies adopting options like flexible hours, there are plenty of things to manage, but people are always in the equation…and people need leadership. Every business is built on the foundation of leadership, and it all either rises or falls based on its leaders.

HR managers need to have a strong ability to communicate with new, current, and potential employees, while working from a place of empathy that allows them to understand people. With the nuances of different generations in the workforce, an HR pro has to be adept at communicating with Millennials, Gen X, Y, and Z, Boomers, and any other generations I may have missed. In all instances, not only do they need to have the ability to listen and understand, they also need to have the skill set that gets things done, and helps people move forward, benefiting both employee and employer.

The leadership required of HR professionals today extends from beginning to end, from recruiting to exit interviews. It’s a top to bottom influence that affects the overall culture, productivity, and profitability of the company. Here are some of the areas requiring leadership from HR managers:

  • Recruiting– Find ways to connect with and recruit top talent.
  • Hiring– HR pros lead the process of hiring top talent
  • Onboarding– Onboard new hires and get them to full productivity as soon as possible.
  • Engagement– Must find ways to: get employees engaged, measure the engagement, and continuously find ways to increase worker engagement
  • Retention– Responsible for keeping employees from jumping ship, especially within the first 6 months or 1st year of employment.
  • Culture– Responsible for helping the development of the overall culture of a business, while also assimilating new employees.
  • Training– Assuring that an employee has all the training they need and want to grow in their career
  • Compliance– Need to understand compliance laws, closing gaps in the compliance processes, and protecting the company from fines and lawsuits. This includes everything from I-9s to sexual harassment or safety training, to visa management and more.
  • Manager/Employee Relations– Navigate manager and employee communication and working relationships.
  • Management Responsibilities– Communicating and working with executives and management teams
  • More more more…


All of these areas require tremendous leadership and skill, along with massive doses of patience and persistence. While technology has moved to the forefront as ways to manage processes, at the core of human resources is the leadership of people.

Perhaps more than ever, people need to be understood, they want to be a part of finding solutions for a company, they want work-life balance, they want to give back, they want diversity and inclusiveness, they need training, they want equal pay, and they want their work to have significance and make a difference. Understanding what people want and need is the key to leadership, and finding a way to equip them to be the best that they can be is the hallmark of a great leader.