Max Johnson is a HR director for a large software development company based in Boston; he provides a guide to a typical day in his job.

My work is nothing if not varied and today is going to be no exception judging by my schedule: a management meeting to kick off, a session to plan a recruitment schedule, an onboarding session with a new starter and a meeting with a member of staff returning to work after a lengthy absence. I also need to check with our chief payroll officer how things are with our new accounting software. We outgrew the previous package and this new one offers far more capability including the printing of secure and tamper proof checks.

Being organized

Having watched the Red Sox win last night and got up early enough to have a quick run I feel quite energized as I take the lift to the HR department on the fifth floor. I check a few emails and review my schedule before grabbing a coffee and heading for the management meeting scheduled for 9.30am.

HR working with management

In my time in HR there’s been a definite change in culture in that HR is becoming more of an integral part of managing an organization: it needs to understand the overall organization’s strategy and objectives so as to help achieve them through hiring, training and maintaining the right personnel.  Now senior staff are involved with management policy and decision making with sometimes a HR director on the main board. This particular meeting is with myself, our HR director Cheryl who is my boss and Louis, a senior project manager. It’s to discuss likely personnel requirements based on some key projects coming up further down the line. We have to plan ahead to enable enough time to identify the skills we’ll need and implement a plan to achieve this by the time projects demanding these skills commence. It’s a productive session though overruns a bit.

Hiring

Next I talk to some recruitment specialists regarding positions we want to fill in the short term: the tech field demands specific skills and some of these are in short supply so we’re competing with many others for the top talent. I make a diary note to send job specs to the recruitment agencies I’ve just spoken to by the end of the week and draw up a rough schedule for when ads will run, and when interviews should take place based on my agreed objective with management for filling the positions. A tummy rumble tells me it’s time for lunch: where did the morning go? I like to have a break of some sort – at least a short while to disengage and get outside if the weather’s reasonable is good as opposed to grabbing a half-eaten sandwich at my desk.

New starter

After returning from lunch I field a few phone calls and reply to some emails before meeting our new recruit – a young man called Wes who is joining us as a web developer in his first full time post since graduating. I give him more background to the company as part of my usual PowerPoint presentation then run him through the general admin stuff and field his questions. He sounds keen and enthusiastic; a positive start.

Counseling

Next I step into a small conference room to talk to Frank, a data analyst in his early forties who has recently started back after being signed off with stress by his doctor. It was stress caused through personal issues rather than work related. I try to find out from Frank how we may be able to help support him and reintegrate him to his work: we do have access to trained workplace counselors should it become necessary.

Check the software

Before finishing for the day I check in with Marlene, our payroll manager, to see how things are going with the new accounting and payroll package we’ve switched to, and she couldn’t be happier. A good decision then to change accounting software. On that positive note I power down my PC, lock my desk and head for the elevator.

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