Soul-crushing administrative niche HR: The 5 worst HR jobs

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Outsiders often mistake HR as a homogenous department; the ‘hirers and firers’ who, oh, also conduct safety seminars from time to time.

But just as there’s no one type of lawyer, executive or ‘student’, there is widespread diversity within HR departments. And like all industries, there are those who have it better, and worse, than others.

There are elements common to the worst jobs in HR. Firstly, getting boxed into a niche-oriented sector that’s so particular, none of your friends or family has any idea what you do. Working in a sub-category of a specialty area can sometimes make the transition into a more generalist role more difficult.

Secondly, it’s admin, admin and more admin. If your work product is a scarcely read report or file, you may have found yourself in a pretty unappealing role. Even worse, future employers may see you as more of an administrator and not a HR leader.

Can you guess which HR functions made the list? According to US-based HR professional and author of industry blog, The HR Capitalist, Kris Dunn, while some of these HR jobs may be just the thing for the right HR manager, these functions are the stuff of nightmares for others.

1. Corporate wellness professional:

The wellness job is sneaky, because it seems like it would be cool one. But, avoid it like a supersize combo. Once you become the wellness guru, you’ll find yourself sandwiched between the unhealthy and the healthy, neither of whom has much desire to listen to you.

With notable exceptions, the unhealthy generally have beliefs and behavioural structures that you can’t change with the time and resources you have available. The healthy are already doing most of what you’re focused on and are wondering when you’re going to build the on-site workout facility. You’ll need to take a long jog to relieve the resulting frustrations.

2. EEO/AAP administrator:

Diversity is of course something that needs to be upheld in workplaces, but there is a fairly limited upside of being an EEO/AAP administrator. Being an affirmative action administrator is often a thankless job. First up, you’ll be asked to collect reams of data and format it into hard-to-understand reports. Once that’s done, the communication begins, often with you informing business owners that they are “under-utilising” in a certain job category.

What happens once you tell the business owner that they are “under-utilising” a certain job group? They’ll blame you for not being able to fill the job in a reasonable time frame. You become the symbol for a barrier rather than the solution. Nice.

3. Call center recruiter (for a consumer call center):

Can you say “cattle call”? The issue with the call centre recruiter role isn’t the type of work; it’s the quantity and the economics of the situation. As a consumer call center recruiter, you’ll be asked to recruit new hires for a large call centre (generally 300 to 1,000). You’ll use your recruiting skills and innovation initially, then your excitement will wane as you realize the ugly truth—you’re being asked to produce 15 to 30 new hires every two to three weeks from a stretched labor market.

Add a marginal hourly rate and no schedule flexibility for the candidates you’re attempting to recruit, and it’s a widow-maker of a job. Pay your dues and apply for the next HR manager role when it becomes available.

4. Safety manager:

There’s no question that this role is needed, especially in manufacturing environments. No question employees are safer as a result. No question that safety professionals save their companies untold amounts of money. Unfortunately, there’s also no question that safety professionals, especially those who are one-person departments within a facility and not part of a corporate safety function, are some of the loneliest professionals in existence. Enforcing safety regulations and modifying employee behavior can make you feel more like a parole officer than a strategic manager.

5. Leave administrator:

Oh, the humanity. This administrator is a centralized control point for leave of absence and carers leave applications in your enterprise. That means this job sees all the trials and tribulations that employees (and their families) go through. You name it—disease, death, dismemberment— this person sees it. To be sure, there’s good that can come from it, in that an empathetic person in this role can calm employees moving through the leave process.

That’s negated by the reality: This person has to make a call on whether to challenge a suspect application, and that is one of the most confrontational situations you can find in the HR world. As part of this, you also get to question multiple sick leave/carers leave applications that are 100% legit, meaning you’ll be seen as evil. It’s also one of the most administrative positions available.


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