Don’t be fooled by the name, HR generalists develop deep insights into their organisations. Working in an HR (human resources) or people team, depending on your level you’ll be responsible for creating, shaping or delivering people strategies that help organisations and their people meet their goals. Explore this page to find out what a career as an HR generalist has to offer.

What does an HR generalist do? 

HR generalists get involved in all aspects of the employee life cycle – from sourcing potential applicants to managing exits from the organisation. Their main aim is create and deliver people strategies that help organisations meet their goals.   

Generalist people professionals get involved in a wide variety of activities which vary from day to day. One day they could be working with leadership teams on organisation design models; the next they could be dealing with specific disciplinary and grievances cases which have escalated. 

HR generalists (sometimes referred to as ‘human resources’ or ‘personnel’) draw from all parts of the specialist areas represented in the people profession (as seen in the Profession Map). Their priorities are shaped by organisation needs. For example, an organisation experiencing significant growth will need a heavy focus on resourcing and capability building – to meet this need they might draw on the broad expertise of an HR generalist, as well as more specialist resourcing professionals. 

A key part of being an HR generalist is the relationships you create across the organisation. This helps you understand the wider priorities and create solutions which achieve the best organisational outcomes. 

HR generalist roles and job titles

HR generalists roles cover all levels of experience and seniority. The types of job titles you might find in general HR include:  

  • Human Resources Administrator
  • Human Resources Officer
  • Personnel Manager
  • People Business Partner
  • Human Resources Manager
  • Head of People
  • Director of People.

Typical activities for an HR generalist

Here are some of the activities you can expect to be involved in as an HR generalist:

  • Designing people strategies and plans
  • Creating employee engagement initiatives
  • Creating people policies and procedures
  • Setting up learning and development programmes to meet the needs of the organisation
  • Designing organisational structures with business leaders
  • Using HR information systems to gather people data and insights
  • Creating an employer brand and recruiting to key positions
  • Designing pay scales and benefits packages
  • Identifying and retaining key talent across the organisation.

Discover other career options in the
people profession

If you’ve a head for data, why not explore roles in reward or people analytics? Or if you’ve a passion for getting the best out of people, why not specialise in learning and development (L&D), talent management, organisation design, or equality, diversity and inclusion?

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