So…What Do You Do as a Human Resources Manager?

Posted on March 1, 2022

What I do in #LocalGov Meme Human Resources

This article was written by Kylie Bayer, MPA, SHRM-SCP (she/hers) as part of the So…What Do You Do? Writing Series. Connect with Kylie on LinkedIn and Twitter. See all the articles in the series.

I’ve found a fulfilling career in human resources, and you might, too! Here’s an example of my workday. Hit me up if you want to break into the wacky world of HR.

I’m the Human Resources Manager at the City of McMinnville, the best city in the heart of Oregon’s wine country. I graduated with my master’s in public administration and am a Senior Certified Professional with the Society for Human Resources Management. I’ve been in the public sector my entire career, starting in communications, dabbling in diversity/inclusion, and ultimately landing in HR. If you’re interested in a career in HR, please reach out! I’m happy to convince you to join me on this wild ride.

5:30 am Wake up and watch TikToks from my favorite HR creators (@dan_from_hr, @hr_molly, and @peopleculturecollective are great follows.) Check texts to see if our Public Works Director, Police Chief, or Fire Chief had something wacky happen overnight. Police/Fire work 24/7 and Public Works is on call for emergencies so sometimes I wake up to a surprise/situation. Continue my epic Wordle streak. Have you joined the ELGL Wordle WhatsApp group?

6:00 am Make coffee, let my dog out, shower spray my entire head with dry shampoo, and try to prepare for an unpredictable day. I’m remote/in office 50/50. Today’s a remote day so I’ll keep my slippers on all day long.

7:30 am Turn on my computer. Take my ADHD meds (or my day could go to sh*t before it even starts.) Write my goals for the day and remind myself the work will be there tomorrow if I can’t get my to-do list checked off completely.

8:00 – 8:30 am I keep a permanent hold on my calendar to avoid an early morning meeting. They happen sometimes, especially if I need to connect with someone from police or fire, they’re working around the clock. Check email, check the local newspaper website, doom scroll on Twitter for a bit (I can’t help it.) 

8:30 – 10:30 am Focus on high impact projects like our classification/compensation project, drafting job announcement language, and preparing for contract negotiations with one of our labor unions. 

10:30 am Drink water, eat breakfast (or brunch?) Working from home is great but I get hyper focused and can forget to take care of myself. 

10:50 am Send employee kudos. McMinnville has a peer-to-peer recognition program and I try to send 2-3 kudos each month to let employees know I value their work and appreciate working with a fun team. 

11:00 am Respond to emails. Lately I’ve fielded medical leave requests, pay equity questions, workers’ compensation claims, and requests for recruitments.

11:45 am Urgent phone call! A manager calls with a “situation.” Here’s where things get squirrely. People are unpredictable, they make mistakes, and they have things going on in their personal lives that impact their work. Example: a manager learned an employee was arrested for a DUI last night, the employee is responsible for driving City vehicles, so this is a problem. The manager may not be aware the employee had requested an accommodation for alcohol use disorder yesterday. Boom! Things just got messy. Time to call our labor attorney to mitigate our risk exposure. Also, time to remind myself and the manager that above all else we want our employees to be safe and healthy and that we approach these situations with empathy. Mitigating employment risk is tricky and even when things go south HR can handle it with professionalism and kindness. 

12:30 pm Schedule investigatory interviews for the following day. Draft interview questions and get my investigation file started. I approach investigations with curiosity. It’s tempting to jump right to a solution before having heard from everyone involved but if you can keep an open mind your investigation will be rock solid.

1:00 pm Drink water, eat lunch, throw the ball for my dog for a bit. Check with my husband about upcoming BBQ events. His new job as a full-time pitmaster means I have a part-time job slinging brisket and pulled pork on weekends. Luckily my manager is supportive (and a fan of the pork belly burnt ends) so I get some flexibility to help with BBQ events until we can hire our first real employee later this year.

1:30 pm Collective bargaining with one of our unions begins soon. Review the existing collective bargaining agreement, make notes of legislative changes to address in the contract, call the union rep and communicate my desire for a collaborative bargaining process. Pray that we have a smooth negotiation and remind myself that it’s never as smooth as I want it to be. If we’re making progress and continuing to improve the labor/management relationship, it’s a win in my book.

2:00 pm Review job applications. Check for minimum qualifications before handing applications off to hiring managers. Quick Teams meeting with a hiring team to review how to apply preferential points for veteran applicants. Oregon law requires public employers grant preferences when hiring/promoting veterans. Veterans have skillsets that easily transfer to the public sector, hire them! 

2:45 pm Prepare for first round budget meeting with City Manager and Finance Director. Mildly panic that my add-package requests won’t be approved. We have a tight budget in McMinnville and add-packages are prioritized based on organizational need. Sometimes the need is in HR, sometimes it’s not.

3:30 pm Employee calls telling me they need to quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. Notify close contacts in their department and advise they seek a COVID test. Be thankful I’ve managed to avoid COVID-19 so far. 

4:15 pm Check email and voicemail. Respond to requests for verifications of employment, unemployment insurance claims, and other administrative HR functions. Avoid my invoices and expense reports, regret avoiding them, schedule time tomorrow to get that done. 

5:30 – 7:00 pm Step away from the computer!

7:00 pm City Council meeting. Luckily no presentation for me tonight, just listening in. Text my coworkers memes during the meeting and watch if they have to stifle giggles during the meeting.

10:00 pm Catch up on a show (Euphoria, Abbot Elementary, or something completely mindless,) apply my 1,000,000-step skincare routine knowing Botox is really doing the heavy lifting. 

11:00 pm triple check my alarm is set for tomorrow. Try to avoid TikTok, fail. Fall asleep sometime before midnight.

Kylie profile pictureKylie Bayer is a values-driven human resources professional who achieves organizational goals by focusing on employees first, championing change, and leading with kindness and humility. 

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