A Day in the Life of HR1998

This special report will show you from several different points of view just how dynamic, challenging and rewarding the average day in HR can be.

June 1, 1998
Pity the obsessive-compulsive HR professional who tries to keep a neat calendar or to maintain an orderly schedule. According to our survey, "A Day in the Life of HR," it's hardly possible. How could it be, when the average day is part crisis management and part strategic planning, includes at least one meeting but possibly not lunch, and requires interacting with employees, line managers, the CEO, vendors, consultants, and a couple of people who may be certifiably crazy? No, the average day is not orderly. But it is dynamic, challenging and ultimately rewarding.

This special report will show you just how dynamic, challenging and rewarding from several different points of view. The foundation of the report is the survey itself, which traces the average HR professional from the time he or she gets up in the morning until long past "ER" in the evening. The numbers show that HR is still in transition from administrative function to strategic business partner. The analysis shows that the transition is succeeding, and the evidence is everywhere from your ready access to CEOs to an image very different from Catbert, the Evil HR Director.

The results also form the framework for "A Day in the Life of Kathy Davis." She isn't real, but the circumstances and events in Kathy's story are drawn from your responses. The "typical" Thursday Kathy endures has been exaggerated for dramatic effect and humor, but it offers an accurate picture of the breadth of HR's responsibilities and the challenges of the job.

Although Kathy lives only in our imagination, the five HR professionals who allowed our writers to shadow them for a day are very real. They work in organizations as disparate as Denver International Airport and Patagonia. If Kathy's story shows the commonalities that characterize the HR profession today, these portraits make it clear that HR also is very much shaped by specific business goals and corporate values.

Last, but not least, we invite you to laugh and learn, to cry and cringe. The survey included some open-ended questions, and hundreds of you were willing to confess the biggest mistakes of your careers, to point fingers at clueless employees and CEOs and to share other stories that bring HR vividly to life.

We hope you find "A Day in the Life of HR" a day you won't soon forget.

Workforce, June 1998, Vol. 77, No. 6, pp. 55-56.