What Does a Great HR Advisor Look Like?

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From offering guidance on employee recruitment and retention strategies to providing counsel on general HR policies, HR advisors play an integral role in any organisation. 

If you’re interested in becoming an HR advisor and wish to assist your company reach its goals and objectives, it’s important to first understand what the role looks like and what it entails, to identify whether or not it’s the right fit for you. 

This blog explores what the HR advisor role is about, discussing the duties and responsibilities you should expect, along with the skills and requirements needed to not only be a good HR advisor, but a great one. 

What is an HR advisor?

An HR advisor is a seasoned and competent HR professional who employs their skills and knowledge to assist and support a company’s HR department.

Working closely with HR managers, HR advisors help provide valuable guidelines, implement changes and generate reports on the HR strategies a company has in place, while also reviewing suggestions for potential improvements. Some aspects they could be focusing on include: 

  • Increasing retention
  • Improving employee onboarding and training
  • Enhancing employee relations, and
  • Contrasting policies that promote a healthy workplace culture

Additionally, HR advisors may also perform typical HR tasks such as conducting hiring interviews, leading training programmes and resolving employee disputes. 

What’s the difference between an HR advisor and an HR manager?

While HR advisors and HR managers often work in conjunction with one another to develop and enforce new HR policies, the two roles do vary.

The main difference between HR advisors and managers is that HR managers oversee the day-to-day operations of an HR department, making sure that everything is running smoothly. HR advisors, on the other hand, tend to directly develop and implement HR policies within an organisation, and often act as a line manager’s first point of contact on HR-related enquiries. 

Common Responsibilities for HR Advisors 

An HR advisor is a mid-level role which encompasses a variety of duties and responsibilities. However, depending on the organisation and industry, these responsibilities may vary from one HR advisor to another. For example, HR advisors working in larger companies may have a more specialised role than those in smaller companies, whose tasks and duties may cover other aspects of the HR department. 

Regardless, there are a few common responsibilities that most HR advisors will deal with. These include: 

1) Developing HR Policies 

Perhaps the most common responsibility HR advisors have is the continuous review of existing HR policies in their company, while also developing and implementing new policies that better conform with the company goals and values. 

This can sometimes be approached jointly with HR managers, where they initially explore the company’s goals and objectives, in order to reach a more comprehensive and targeted policy to achieve that.

They then develop training programmes and collateral to communicate the new policies to company staff in an effort to ensure adherence to the company’s values and achieving the organisational targets set at the same time. 

2) Ensuring Legal Compliance

When it comes to HR advisors, an area in which they’re expected to have great knowledge of is employment law. It goes without saying that a company’s human resources policies should comply with employment law, and it’s up to the HR advisor to make sure it does. 

Reviewing aspects such as employment contracts, workplace rules and procedure and other legal documentation, are essential to ensure compliance with the relevant legislation and it's an aspect they must have great knowledge and experience on. 

Besides that, HR advisors also contribute to the development of such documents from start to finish to make sure they do in fact meet the appropriate legal standards. 

3) Advising Managers and Staff

Certainly one of the primary duties of HR advisors is to utilise their knowledge and expertise of the industry to provide managers and company staff with advice. For example, HR managers and other staff may seek guidance from HR advisors on matters such as:

  • How to find the best talent
  • Which are the right interviewing processes
  • How they can increase retention, and
  • How to employ and develop effective training programmes

That’s why the role of an HR advisor is at least a mid-level role, since experience is often called upon to answer the above questions. In order to achieve these, however, HR advisors may develop dedicated training programmes to convey that information to HR staff so that they can develop and apply those skills themselves. 

4) Recruiting and Interviewing 

HR advisors already have plenty of experience in the field of human resources, which subsequently makes them competent and skilled interviewers and recruiters. Depending on the size and type of organisation they work for, human resource advisors can often play a significant part in the recruitment process of new employees, creating job advertisements, scouting talent and conducting interviews. 

While they may be directly doing these processes themselves, HR advisors may also supervise other members of the HR department who have been tasked to perform the above duties, offering them advice and guidance where needed.

5) Resolving Disputes

Another function of human resources departments in all companies is to resolve disputes between members of staff, or even between the staff and the organisation itself. Taking into account their extensive knowledge and experience, HR advisors are typically some of the most capable members of the department to handle these disputes. 

Acting as mediators, sources of information and intermediaries, HR advisors help the parties involved reach a mutually agreeable solution, by hearing both sides of the disputes and using their critical judgement. For this however, they must remain impartial, fair and are able to communicate effectively. 

Skills to be a Great HR Advisor

In order to perform their duties and responsibilities successfully, HR advisors require their own diverse set of skills, which they would greatly benefit from for their career. 

1) Excellent Communication Skills 

An obvious skill for HR advisors, and perhaps the entire HR department, is having good communication, since the role involves regular and constant interaction with others in their organisation. Having the ability to communicate clearly and effectively enables them to provide the necessary advice and guidance to those who seek it. Alongside that, having strong communication skills ultimately makes them competent interviewers for new recruits. 

Since HR advisors often collaborate with managers, providing them with advice on development strategies, excellent communication allows them to understand what managers require, to therefore convey the appropriate guidance. 

Key contributors to solid communication skills include active listening and empathy, which are also vital for successful conflict resolution amongst staff. 

2) Knowledge of Employment Law

Acting as sources of information for their colleagues, it’s imperative for HR advisors to have good working knowledge of employment law, to deliver up-to-date and accurate facts. This in turn, allows them to develop new policies, contracts and procedures in alignment with the relevant legislation. 

Oftentimes, HR advisors will work closely with their organisation’s legal team to achieve this, and are the first point of contact for employees who have queries on compliance. So having a good understanding is vital to communicate the information accurately. 

3) Strong Problem-Solving Skills

As already mentioned, one of HR advisors’ main responsibilities is to act as mediators for disputes amongst staff in the organisation, which makes problem-solving an essential aspect of their role. This encapsulates:

  • Being able to analyse a situation fairly
  • Identifying the main origin and cause of the issue 
  • Evaluating possible solutions and their effectiveness, and
  • Developing a workable plan towards the solution of the problem

Facets of strong problem-solving also include analytical skills, critical thinking and strategy development, necessary for successful dispute resolution. 

4) Leadership and Coaching 

Being a mid-level role means that HR advisors are likely to be part of the HR management teams, which calls for them to lead teams and have the responsibility to help those teams develop, by implementing new policies they must abide by.

As a result, they often have to mentor and coach other HR staff, which they must display elements of empathy, confidence and delegation in order to apply this skill. 

What qualifications do I need to become an HR advisor? 

Being that an HR advisor role is a mid-level position, and HR degree or relevant industry qualifications and experience are typically required. While the number of years is likely to vary from one organisation to another, typically a minimum of 3-5 years in a relevant role are expected. 

Many organisations are also looking for some sort of formal training or education in the field, whether that’s an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in HR, or similar subjects such as business management, economics and psychology. 

Alternatively, industry accredited certification pertaining to personnel practice, employment law or coaching and training are also great alternatives for those seeking a career as an HR advisor. 

The CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) offers courses for all levels of experience, from entry all the way to senior roles, for individuals wanting to embark or further a career in HR. Considered the gold standard in training for HR and L&D professionals, CIPD qualifications are the most recognised and respected in the field by employees, making them the first choice for current and aspiring HR professionals looking to elevate their skills. 


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