Life as a Standalone Flexible Working HR Manager

I try to get to the office early usually between 8 and 8.30am, so I can read the 20 to 30 emails that have arrived since my last working day.

This time is often interrupted by other early birds who want to catch up and share the office chat, which is an important part of my role – these conversations can be very helpful indicators of what is happening in the work environment and when you’re not around most of the time, these moments can be key to an in depth understanding of what is really going on for employees.  However, my early morning routine does ultimately mean that I can really start working before too many people get into the office and make other demands on my time.

Individuals will often have sent me meeting requests to discuss the everyday HR issues – paternity/maternity, too much work, training requirements, difficulties with colleagues or even that the kettle isn’t working.   I ensure I see everyone as quickly as possible and definitely within my 2 working days.

We are recruiting quite a lot at the moment and I try to be in all the first round interviews – I’m happy to change my working days if I can, to fit in with my colleagues diaries but sometimes this doesn’t work and so I prepare as much as I can for them and assist with any liaison with recruiters, score sheets, potential questions, follow up paperwork or advise them if they are finding decision making difficult.

I would say I have up to 4 hours a week just touching base with people – employees seem to get comfort from offloading to someone who isn’t around the organisation all the time – if they let off steam and regret it later they have a few days to forget about it and move on or alternatively consider next steps if necessary.  I think employees have developed trust in me quickly and feel they can safely speak to me about personal issues which means they feel supported and safe while in the workplace which is what we are all working towards.  I have recently introduced a private healthcare scheme and employee assistance programme with the aim of providing support for employees in all aspects of their lives.

I have weekly catch up meetings with my boss the CEO, to discuss my priorities and any issues that might need addressing.  As a standalone HR Manager my role encompasses strategic planning to changing an employee’s address on the HR database.  When I can eventually get my head down, I focus on starting and completing tasks, this involves management of a very busy diary list and moving things from week to week when tasks are still live.

I try to leave the office on time, I would much rather work at the beginning of the day than work late, due to family needs.  I also don’t check my emails too much on my non-working days – there is always something that could be done, but I have to manage my urge to sort things that can wait until I am next in the office.  If something urgent does come up, my boss has my phone number and knows I am happy to discuss anything before my next working day.  This hasn’t happened yet, but I wouldn’t be unhappy if it did.

I really enjoy the contrasts in my life – I feel like I have the best of everything.  My flexible role means that I can move my working day if my family needs require it but equally, I will move my working day or work extra days and take time off in lieu if my work requires it.

Suzi Hewes, Human Resources Manager

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