Every month, Walters People puts a job in the spotlight. This month, we discuss the job of a Human Resources Generalist.

According to Jobfeed, the demand for Human Resources Generalists increased by 53% in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, and majority of vacancies appear to be in Antwerp. 

Maud Deweer, Senior Manager in the Business Support division at Walters People, explains what an HR Generalist does and what we can expect from the future.

What exactly does an HR Generalist do?

Maud: "Overall, you can say that a HR Generalist is responsible for both soft and hard HR. Hard HR includes payroll management and contact with the social secretariat, contract management, research on how to optimise the comp & ben strategy within the organisation, salary benchmarking, etc. The 'soft' side of HR includes responsibility for new hirings, organising training and courses for staff and performance management. 

This role can be named as HR Generalist, HR Coordinator or even HR Manager, depending on the size of the company where he or she is employed. In small or medium-sized companies, it is often a ‘stand-alone’ function, reporting directly to the CEO. In larger structures, he will rather report to the HR Director. The HR generalist has a real role ‘in the field’ with a mix between operational and strategic tasks and could be supported by an assistant or another HR employee.”

How is the current demand for HR Generalists?

"According to Jobfeed, demand increased by 53% in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year. Now with the Corona crisis, unfortunately, several recruitments have been suspended, although the HR Generalists in place are working at full capacity to manage the crisis. 

(Online) onboarding of new employees during a period of ‘compulsory’ teleworking is of course feasible, but for a HR Generalist this is a little more difficult. After all, an HR Generalist has to be 'in the field', meet everyone and discuss with key stakeholders what their expectations are and how the HR strategy should be defined."

As soon as we get through this difficult period, we expect the demand for HR Generalists to increase again. Organisations with very little HR support must definitely have seen the added value of the role during this period of crisis.

What skills are essential to be successful HR Generalist?

"In smaller structures, an HR Generalist is often a stand-alone function, so being able to work autonomously is important. A positive attitude and strong sense of empathy is also essential, because as an HR Generalist, you are the link between management and employees for everything that is HR related. This requires a certain level of flexibility and creativity in order to be able to reconcile the objectives of management and the interests of all staff members.

In order to support the organisation to the fullest, it is also important to have an analytical mindset: which processes can be optimised, how can the organisation - both within soft HR and hard HR -make improvements and what added value can the HR Generalist bring? The HR Generalist needs to demonstrate which added value they can bring to the organisation.

Many organisations employ people from different nationalities. It is therefore important to have a good knowledge of languages, as well as strong communication skills. Employees need to feel comfortable approaching HR, but the HR Generalist in turn also needs to ensure a healthy balance between management and staff, which is not always easy. Being able to listen well to both parties and align expectations is therefore crucial. 

A HR Generalist usually works together with a social secretariat for payroll processing. Knowledge of social legislation and some experience within payroll is therefore also important, particularly because the HR Generalist has a monitoring function regarding payroll administration that the social secretariat prepares every month".  

What does the future of a HR Generalist look like? 

"That actually depends on the organisation and on one's own ambitions. The range of tasks of a HR Generalist is already very extensive and varied, but can of course always be extended by launching new projects like for example the implementation of remote working or a new HR system, the set up of a training academy for employees, the launch of a new cafeteria plan or the improvement of organisation’s employer brand,…

In larger structures or organisations, the scope of tasks can be enormous, so a HR Generalist can be supported by a HR Assistant or a HR Officer who will carry out the more administrative tasks".

What salary can a HR Generalist expect? 

"HR Generalist is not a starter’s position, so some years of experience within HR is required. On average we can say that a HR Generalist can count on a gross monthly salary between 4000 and 5500 EUR. This salary obviously depends on the size of the organisation, the degree of responsibilities and the years of experience the HR Generalist has. In most organisations, this salary also comes with extra-legal benefits such as a mobile phone, laptop, insurance package and sometimes a company car with a fuel card and a net allowance".

Find out more?

Have a look at our career advice section or have a look at our latest jobs in HR.

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