What does an HR person do all day? Every HR professional knows there’s no such thing as a “typical” day at work. In our Day in the Life series, we speak with pros from a variety of cities and industries to get a snapshot of their work lives.
Meet Kim Halsey, MA, SPHR
Title: Human Resource Manager
Location: Spokane, WA
Number of Employees: 100 employees (10,000 total at parent company)
HR Team Size: 30 people
Years of Experience: 20+ years
College Major: Organizational Management
Favorite Part of HR: “In HR, you can design as you go and play to your strengths. HR is never boring, that’s why I love it. No two days are ever, ever the same.”
In Kim’s current role, she manages day-to-day HR duties in a local manufacturing plant and also brings her own organizational development expertise from the Recovery Today program she founded. Kim is part of the senior management team and works throughout the global organization. Here’s what an average day looks like for her:
5:00 a.m.: Wake up and go on a 20 minute run.
6:30 a.m.: Stop for coffee and breakfast at Panera.
7:30 a.m.: Arrive at work.
8:00 a.m.: Check inbox to find a variety of emails. The east coast has already been at work for three hours, so these could be anything from the corporate office to employee payroll questions to emails from our office in India.
I spend the early part of my morning prioritizing my inbox and troubleshooting issues based on how pressing the issue.
9:00 a.m.: By 9, someone usually drops in to see me. I have an open door policy, so employees know they can stop by to talk with me whenever they need. If for some reason no one stops in, I’m out walking the floor and saying good morning. This is important so that HR has a presence in the company that employees recognize and connect with.
9:30 a.m.: Around this time, I head back to my desk to focus on recruiting. I have anywhere from 5-10 open positions at any given time. Right now we’re looking to fill a Senior Mechanical Engineer and a National Sales Director position.
I look for many things a strong candidate. I can weed out almost 50% of the candidates by identifying those who tried to game the system by faking qualifications, especially when it comes to years of experience. I also look closely at career progression because I want to know what the candidate has accomplished by the time his or her application gets to my inbox. Have they had a series of short-term lateral roles, or moved up from role to role? We want to hire people who are critical thinkers and change-agents.
10:30 a.m.: Time for a snack at my desk!
11:00 a.m.: I have my first scheduled meeting of the day around this time. Today, I had a call with corporate about an American Disabilities case we’re looking to accommodate.
12:30 p.m.: Next up is our monthly safety committee meeting. This is a cross-functional team and together we review any accident reports and employee safety compliance concerns to make sure our workforce is safe, happy, and compliant.
1:00pm: Time for lunch. I force myself to take a break from any work during this time. I take my chicken soup to the table in my office away from my computer and give myself a mental break. If I encounter a situation early in the day that’s hard to deal with, I made sure to go out and take a walk or run to reset myself.
It’s crucial to lead by example and make sure your employees are getting the breaks they need as well. When I first started, we had a problem with employees not taking their lunch breaks. This is a real legal concern, especially for hourly employees, so we now have kitchens, break rooms, and lunch areas where people can step away from their work.
2:00 p.m.: Prep for tomorrow’s Culture and Communications training session—including both my own prep work and fielding questions from others in the class. In addition to my generalist responsibilities, I was hired as an executive coach to help the company transition through an acquisition. The company was originally a startup that was going through a bit of an identity crisis after undergoing an acquisition. I led a Communications 101 course, starting with the executive team and then taking the course out to everyone at the company.
We’re now in the third phase of my training course, and I’ve seen a major transformation in communication and collaboration throughout the company. I’m confident that if I got hit by a bus tomorrow, these people will be totally fine to continue to work together successfully.
3:00 p.m.: I return to my desk and address any paperwork that has been waiting. I use my afternoons to tackle any administrative tasks or reporting that needs to be done. This is often compliance-related reporting on things like payroll and employee demographics.
4:00 p.m.: On any given day, I may come back to find a letter of resignation on my desk. I never shame an employee for leaving or try to buy them back, because by the time they’ve put in a formal letter of resignation, they’ve already made their decision. You may be able to buy them for a season, but you won’t be able to regain their loyalty—you’ll just have their physical presence in the office. With this mindset, they’ll likely leave eventually, so even if they stay an extra year, they won’t be fully invested in their work.
I’ve learned to gracefully accept a letter of resignation, schedule an exit interview, take any learnings to the leadership team, and immediately begin the offboarding process. Oh, and I always ask what kind of cupcake they like—we do a cupcake sendoff on the employee’s last day which is a sort of roast, war stories, hugs and tears sendoff. This helps a lot because employees can really be impacted by the departure of a peer.
5:00 p.m.: Pack up and head out for the day. I carry two cell phones—one for business and one for personal. This helps me truly shut down and get away from work. I don’t even take my work phone out on the weekends.
Stay tuned for more in our Day in the Life series, where we showcase the minute-by-minute responsibilities of real HR professionals.