Are there advantages to spending time outside of the HR realm?

November 12th 2021 | Posted by Phil Scott

Gaining work experience in other areas of the business, or within diverse organisations, is common practice. The question is does doing so give HR professionals an advantage?

It’s certainly true that experts in the word of HR are required to be more commercially aware than ever. So, having a breadth of business knowledge is advantageous. However, there is more than one way to achieve this knowledge. It’s interesting to examine the benefits of experience working outside of HR and those of utilising other means of expanding professional knowledge.

The value of stepping away from the HR zone

Taking time out of their HR career is favoured by many top professionals as a way of gaining exposure to different aspects of the business world. Doing so enables them to achieve greater awareness of skills such as project management and lean working.

HR experts can also benefit from working within the legal profession or the finance discipline. These areas provide awareness that is valuable to performing the HR role and progressing down this career route.

The fact is that a wide base of knowledge is always an advantage to HR managers who are required to play a strategic role in business operations.

More than one way of developing a wider skill set

Stepping away from working in HR for a time is not the only way of building a wider awareness of the business world.

Having a collaborative approach is always important. Working with experts from other disciplines has two major benefits for HR professionals: enhancing individual knowledge and gaining assistance from people with defined knowledge in other areas.

Arguably, there is more value to be had from collaborating with a diverse range of other professionals than attempting to maintain a vast breadth of knowledge. Fitting pieces of knowledge together in this way can be hugely advantageous to the business overall.

Even when professionals work in this way, there is an advantage to be had from developing a wider range of commercial and strategic skills. This can be done in ways other than working away from HR altogether. Many organisations give HR managers the opportunity to set personal development goals to be met in-house. Professional organisations such as CIPD also offer developmental courses and other products for the use of their members.

It’s also important to note that the HR function is more integrated than it has ever been. This allows HR managers to improve their overall knowledge of the organisation on an ongoing basis by simply carrying out the responsibilities of their role.

Overall, there are definite advantages to an HR professional spending time working outside of the discipline. They gain hands-on commercial experience that gives them an enhanced understanding of how their work fits into the wider business picture. However, those experts who work within HR for their entire career are able to continually build on specific expertise they can use when collaborating with other disciplines.

There is no one right path to take, it’s an individual decision that HR managers have to make when deciding if spending time outside the HR realm is the best career path to take.

If you are an HR professional looking for a new role, register with us. If are looking to hire an HR professional, get in touch.