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What Does an HR Executive Do?

C. Mitchell
C. Mitchell

A human resources executive, often called simply an HR executive, usually manages a company’s employment policies and serves as the acting head of a corporate human resources department. This professional oversees hiring and terminations and sets guidelines for benefits, compensation, conflict resolution, and publicity management, among other things. The job typically requires a keen knowledge of labor laws, but also a savvy for business relations. Each HR executive is a corporate officer, and in this capacity must also represent the corporation to the public at shareholder events and in media interviews.

Human resources is an integral part of most companies and organizations. HR divisions deal with all manner of employee issues, from initial job posting and interviews to contract negotiation, pay scale, and insurance benefits, where applicable. Most of the time, these divisions house a lot of different professionals in a range of capacities. They all usually report to the company’s HR executive.

HR executives guide a company's employment policies.
HR executives guide a company's employment policies.

Companies often have many HR employees, but usually only a handful of senior HR executives. These executives are always experts in HR policy and have usually spent a great deal of their career as human resources managers or supervisors. The executive job is much more advisory and is always considered a more senior position. Executives are usually in charge of setting the broad policies and overseeing larger employee relations questions and processes without actually being involved.

An HR executive should have good communications skills.
An HR executive should have good communications skills.

One exception to this rule is the hiring of other executives, particularly chief executive officer recruitment campaigns. A company’s HR executive usually spearheads high-visibility hiring decisions. It is the HR executive’s job to ensure that high-level positions are filled with individuals who will help preserve and maintain the strength of the organization. Corporate officials are often selected and recruited somewhat differently than other internal employees. Their selection usually also has broad and far-reaching ramifications for the company.

On the inside, one of the executive’s biggest job duties is keeping on top of labor laws and employee regulations. Local and national laws in many places set baseline requirements for how employees must be treated, how accommodating companies must be to workers with disabilities, and the role of cultural and ethnic diversity in recruitment, to name a few. The HR executive must make sure that the company’s policies are in line with the governing law. This job can be very challenging in large companies with presences in more than one place.

HR executives must also review policies or programs that affect employees. Many of these have little to do with legal compliance on their face. They often deal with things like flexible work arrangements, at-work wellness programs, or incentives and bonus structures for junior employees. The executive serves as a final check to ensure that policies are fair, equitable, and uniformly augmented.

Executives in the HR sphere are often also involved in the company’s outside perception. They typically serve on the company or organization’s outward-facing board and are responsible for keeping shareholders updated on HR-related issues. HR executives often also serve as media contacts for questions regarding corporate culture or any employee situations that arise.

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    • HR executives guide a company's employment policies.
      By: pressmaster
      HR executives guide a company's employment policies.
    • An HR executive should have good communications skills.
      By: Adam Gregor
      An HR executive should have good communications skills.