How to be a HR Director in Singapore
Estimated Read Time: 5 minutes
An HR Director is a key figure in any organisation. As the most senior HR position within a company, they are responsible for the company’s entire HR strategy, recruitment plan, employee training, and more. Apart from that, Human Resources continues to be one of the most stable industries in Singapore.
But what exactly does an HR Director do? What responsibilities does this role entail and what skills should a potential candidate for an HR Director job possess?
What roles and responsibilities does an HR director have in Singapore?
Since a company’s HR Director is responsible for their entire HR operations, their primary concern is the organisation’s long-term goals. Their responsibilities thus fluctuate depending on the individual organisation and the size of its staff, however, there are a few responsibilities all HR Director roles will have in common.
These might be, but are by no means restricted to, the following:
- Developing and implementing HR strategies for the organisation by paying attention to its goals and/or issues and roadblocks.
- Managing talent acquisition, hiring, staffing, and benefits and compensation for employees within the organisation
- Ensuring the organisation’s HR strategies and plans are in compliance with local laws
- Supporting management by identifying key issues within the organisation, while clarifying and updating organisational expectations, guidelines, and practices
- Encourages, facilitates, and actively looks out for training and educational opportunities for all employees of the organisation.
Additionally, in this increasingly connected world, where more and more employees are working from home, HR Directors are essential in promoting and managing effective work-life balance. This means researching and ideating work-life balance initiatives for the HR team to engage in with the rest of the organisation, as well as communicating work-life expectations with managers and their subordinates.
In other words, an effective HR Director has the potential to ensure employee job satisfaction, wellbeing, and performance in a whole new way nowadays. It’s no longer enough to offer ample remuneration, paid time off, and other such perks — employees need to feel heard, and their concerns addressed on an organisational level.
Related: 4 ways to avoid career regret before starting a new role
What skills does an HR director need?
Since most of what an HR Director does is directly or indirectly related to people in some way, it is vital that an HR director has excellent people and communication skills. After all, you need to be able to oversee hiring talent, acting as a liaison between upper management and staff, and juggle employee relations.
Skills most HR directors possess the following:
HR Directors must be able to communicate organisational policies, strategies, and plans effectually. Also, while not a skill, being personable is an attribute that does HR Directors well.
A positive attitude and outlook towards the organisation
Manoeuvring precarious relationships and deescalating tense situations can be draining; however, it is vital that HR Directors retain an upbeat attitude with regards to the people they work with and the organisation they work for.
An ability to multitask
HR Directors wear many hats! As a liaison between employees and managers, the first point of contact incoming talent, and the person in charge of the organisation’s HR strategy, you’ll be expected to switch gears swiftly.
Good problem-solving skills and flexibility
Things don’t always go to plan, and as times change, HR expectations change too.
Strong leadership skills
Lastly, as someone overseeing the organisation’s workplace dynamics, staff, and HR operations, the ability to “lead” or guide staff and management alike is essential.
"Typically, what companies look out for at the HR Director level is excellent stakeholder management skills as well as being IHRP certified. Some other outstanding achievements would be building a HR team from scratch, implementing HR system/automating process and revamping HR policies," says Susan Koh, Senior Division Director at Robert Half with more than 12 years experience in the recruitment industry.
Similarly, experienced Division Director Elise Tan says "the good ones are professional, polished, and people-centric. They have a passion for growth, as well as strong analytical and problem solving skills. They also shape good company culture."
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Education and experience requirements
As with any job, the more experience and the more qualifications you have, the more likely you are to secure the role. That said, HR Directors need to understand an organisation and its needs well, so it is very possible that these requirements are less important when it comes to the right candidate.
- Bachelor’s degree in human resources management, but a master’s degree is preferred by most companies
- Additional industry-specific experience, such as tech or healthcare-specific training
- Minimum of 5 years of experience in HR, although most HR Directors have more experience.
It’s for this reason that HR Directors are largely well-paid as they are seen as long-term investments for organisations.
Robert Half's Singapore Salary Guide can shed some light on HR Director salaries.
HR manager vs director: what doesn’t an HR director do?
Perhaps the biggest misconception about HR Directors — especially from people outside HR or those considering a career in HR — is that they are the same as HR Managers. This, however, is not the case!
Where an HR Director thinks through big picture things such as the company’s HR policy or what the company needs to do to comply with government level requirements, an HR Manager manages HR employees, ensuring HR responsibilities are carried out on a day-to-day basis.
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