In AIU’s recent Serious Talk Webinar, “Where the Jobs Are in 2014," Kate Wollensak, Director of Compensation for Morton Salt Company, discussed specializations within the human resources field and how professionals with a variety of experience can break into this expanding industry. “There is no industry that is exempt from HR,” said. “It’s a great entry into any field.”
So what are some specializations within HR?
Recruiting. “Recruiting is a great start,” said Wollensak, “because you are learning about the organization when you are hiring for it. The positions, the job descriptions, the people … you are learning about the culture of the organization. Sometimes in recruiting you are responsible for bringing them on board and acclimating them to the company. You are the first voice and first image of the company.”
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Wellness. Wellness specialists are responsible for promoting healthier lifestyles within an organization, thereby reducing healthcare costs, sick days and long-term absences due to illness. “HR is so tied to the healthcare industry,” noted Wollensak. “Wellness initiatives are huge right now.”
Work-life balance. These HR specialists oversee occupational health and safety training and help promote work-life balance by administering flex time, fitness, counseling, childcare, elder care, legal and even foodservice programs. These employee assistance services, EAP as they are known, are programs “employees can count on to find additional legal, financial or mental health when they have stressors in life,” Wollensak said.
Compensation. Compensation professionals often have a strong background in human resources, accounting or finance. According to the BLS, compensation managers help determine a company’s overall pay structure. They also help maintain competitive salaries, commissions, performance plans and bonuses by analyzing market data and wage reports.
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Benefits. Benefits specialists work with vendors to manage enrollment, renewal and management of employee benefits. These professionals must also work closely with legal and finance departments to ensure that a company’s programs are both compliant with government regulations and cost-effective in order to meet company goals. This specialization is particularly in demand, according to Wollensak: “Healthcare has absolutely touched the HR industry as well with the Affordable Care Act and what’s going on in the government right now. There’s a huge need for benefit specialists.”
Training and development. There are many types of training and development an organization can offer its employees. Larger companies often have their own training and development teams within HR. Training and development specialists help coordinate or outsource those services to vendors. “You have to think beyond the traditional company when you are thinking of the training and development role,” Wollensak pointed out. “Companies can outsource for training and development. I mean you want to invest in your employees, so whether they are going to school or taking a class or getting certification, training and development isn’t just classroom training anymore. It’s beyond that. It’s attending webinars; it’s attending events like this. Continuous learning will always be important.”