What Is A Human Resources Generalist?

In the wide and varied realm of human resources (HR), many different roles are needed to keep the show on the road. One such role is an HR generalist.

This role is pivotal within the department, so understanding the responsibilities of the HR generalist is crucial for comprehending the broader HR team operations.

In addition to the array of roles, effective HR software is indispensable for streamlined operations. Discover the top HR software solutions below:

  1. Rippling
  2. Deel
  3. BrightHR

What Is The Difference Between HR and HR Generalist?

When thinking of HR, the broad responsibilities of this probably come to mind. Hiring, employee development and training, and so on. So, what distinguishes an HR generalist?

As an HR generalist typically undertakes a broad range of HR-related responsibilities, the terms HR and HR generalist may be used as if they mean the same thing. However, it’s important to differentiate between HR as a department and the specific role of an HR generalist within that department.

What Do HR Generalists Do?

An HR generalist is, as the name implies, someone who undertakes a broad range of HR-related responsibilities. This is as opposed to an HR specialist, who specialises in one line of work.


Due to its broad scope, an exact job description for an HR generalist is challenging to define. Depending on the organisation’s needs, they may hold titles like HR manager, administrator, or officer, engaging in various aspects of company operations.

The specifics of an HR generalist’s role depend on factors such as company size, structure, and industry. For instance, larger organisations may have larger HR teams, distributing responsibilities accordingly.

However, some primary responsibilities of HR generalist may include:

  • Recruitment: This involves identifying job openings, creating job postings, interviewing and even headhunting to find talented candidates to apply for positions within an organisation.
  • Vetting and Screening: Candidate references and background checks must be performed, and it is often the job of HR to ensure this is properly undertaken.
  • Onboarding Process: HR’s job doesn’t end when an employee is hired. It’ll then be the job of the department to support and communicate with candidates about the employment processes, as well as handling the subsequent paperwork and updating employee records
  • Training and Development: HR will identify training needs within the organisation, coordinate training programs, and assist in the development of employee training initiatives.
  • Compliance and Regulations: It’s crucial to stay up-to-date with employment laws and regulations to ensure that the organisation’s hiring practices and employment policies comply with legal requirements
  • Resolving Workplace Disputes: Particularly if onboarding new employees causes issues within the workplace, HR employment specialists may help to resolve workplace disputes and problem-solve workplace challenges
  • Compensation and Benefits: HR employment specialists may help to organise employee compensation and benefits and ensure employee records are kept updated.

What Is The Difference Between an HR Generalist and a Specialist?

Now that we’ve clarified what an HR generalist is, you might be wondering about the role of an HR specialist and how these positions coexist within a company.

As mentioned earlier, an HR specialist focuses on a specific task within the HR realm. For instance, they could be an HR employment specialist dedicated to managing the employment process.

Especially in larger companies that can house a more extensive HR team, there’s often the capacity to hire specialists for individual tasks rather than relying solely on one or a few HR generalists to manage all aspects of the department. On the other hand, smaller organisations may just employ one HR generalist or even a single HR employee responsible for multiple HR functions.

Is HR Generalist A Stressful Job?

When considering taking on any role, the question of stress inevitably arises. This is especially true for an HR generalist, given the assumption that their diverse responsibilities make their job inherently stressful. But is this really the case?

Yet again, the answer isn’t as straightforward as a simple yes or no. Whether a job is stressful depends on factors like the organisation’s culture, size, industry, and the individual’s stress management skills.

That said, there are several factors to consider regarding the potential stress of being an HR generalist. Dealing with employee relations can be emotionally draining, juggling multiple tasks can be demanding, staying updated on employment laws can be challenging, and managing deadlines and time effectively can add to the pressure.

Despite this, many HR professionals may find fulfilment in their roles by helping employees, contributing to organisational success, and implementing positive changes within the workplace. So, while there may be stress involved, it shouldn’t deter you if you believe this HR role is the right fit for you.