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HR Roles Among the Fastest Growing in US

A business woman giving a presentation to a group of people at a conference table.

​An analysis of LinkedIn data is the latest evidence of the growing recognition of human resources as a business-critical function since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Five of the 25 fastest growing roles in the U.S. since 2018 belong to HR, according to an analysis of job titles on the site.

Emerging areas are represented with positions like human resources analytics manager (No. 2), diversity and inclusion manager (No. 3), and employee experience manager (No. 5), as are traditional HR titles like chief people officer (No. 15) and head of rewards (No. 21). The leading position on the list is head of revenue operations.

[Jump to the interactive table: 25 Fastest Growing Job Titles]

"Over the last few years, largely as a result of the pandemic, employers have had to shift many times and in many ways to meet the changing needs and demands of workers, figuring out how to offer the right mix of flexibility and benefits to retain current employees and to attract new talent," said Andrew Seaman, managing editor for jobs and career development at LinkedIn News. "And now, in this uncertain time, employers have become even more hyper-focused on keeping their best people engaged, satisfied and committed to their company. As a result, HR roles have become more necessary and more niche, with roles like employee experience manager making the annual list for the first time this year."

The data indicates that HR is increasingly being perceived as strategic and that the ability to craft a winning employee experience will be crucial to help retain and attract employees and meet business goals.

"It's really exciting news for HR," said Laura Mazzullo, founder and owner of East Side Staffing, a New York City-based recruiting firm focused on the placement of HR professionals. It's also not necessarily intuitive, she said. "Normally in an economic downturn you see more general roles and less specialized ones. And when times are better, HR usually has more money to spend on a larger team and can break out into specializations like employee experience or DE&I [diversity, equity and inclusion]."

Mazzullo added that the rise in breakout roles is much needed in HR as the profession has been hammered in recent years and burnout has proliferated.

"HR generalists have had to wear too many hats," she said. "When you have specialists doing what they do best, they are able to transform a company in those areas. Typically, someone who has a passion in one area of HR gets really excited to excel in that thing. An employee experience manager will be excited to focus on employee experience and not also have to manage benefits."

Other than the chief people officer role, salaries for the top HR positions ranged from about $40,000 to $145,000, according to LinkedIn. Big cities like New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., are the top hiring locations, and about a quarter of the roles offered remote availability. The most sought-after skill across HR disciplines was employee engagement.

Unfortunately, it's not that easy for generalists to cross over into specialized HR roles unless it's done internally, Mazzullo said. "I encourage people to make those transitions in their current company before they try to do it somewhere else, then they can leverage that new role and title when they job search."

She said this is a great time to initiate new career paths internally, especially if companies want to retain talent. "If you're an HR generalist feeling unsatisfied and disengaged, and you have a vision of what you want to do, one option is to ask your manager to help design a role for you. A lot of these DE&I and employee experience roles are being built from scratch, so employers might as well look for somebody who's really pumped to lead those areas."

New Kid on the Block

The term "employee experience" was coined just a few years ago, and now the position is one of the most talked about roles in HR.

Employee experience managers oversee the processes that support employee engagement, well-being and development within an organization, with the ultimate aim of improving productivity, satisfaction and retention. They tend to have a part in core HR functions like overseeing the employee engagement survey, onboarding new hires and organizing workplace learning. But there's much more to it than that.

"Employee experience managers build a strategic relationship with the rest of the business," said Benjamin Granger, chief workplace psychologist and head of employee experience advisory services at Qualtrics, an experience management software platform in Provo, Utah. "That means developing a strategy for a cohesive experience for employees that also allows the business to prioritize its resources in the best way to benefit the organization. It means looking at the experience of people from the point that they start as candidates and new hires and through all their major workplace life events and by aligning resources with the understanding that you get better business outcomes by taking care of your people."

Granger said employee experience managers help business partners distill feedback from employees; help weave that feedback into objective and goal setting; help budget for hiring and employee investments; evaluate people analytics; help manage DE&I and employee well-being; and help coach and mentor talent.

Many companies created the role as employees in recent years jumped from one job to another at the highest rates in decades. Disengagement has remained high, and Millennials and Generation Z have voiced their concerns about burnout, flexibility, well-being and workplace culture more than any generation before them.

"We've seen an acceleration of organizations having to think differently about how people work and how employers can support them," Granger said. "These changes may have happened anyway, but the rapid changes made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic led to employers considering employee experience more holistically."

Meredith Gallivan, employee experience partner at GuideOne Insurance in West Des Moines, Iowa, said it's about time employers paid more attention to the employee experience as a way to push back against disengagement.

"It's a very unique role, and I think it will become more important as Generation Z lets employers know what they want from work," she said. "If organizations are not creating desirable workplaces, they will have a harder time attracting and retaining the upcoming generation."

There is no typical day as an employee experience manager, Gallivan said. "Everything is dependent on what the need is. We have about 600 employees. I meet with them year-round to understand what they want and need to make this a great place to work. I also work with our leadership team to understand the business needs, then I try to find the right balance between what the people want and [what] the business wants, and bring those two things together."  

One of Gallivan's main responsibilities is conducting the annual employee engagement survey. "I digest all that survey data and translate it into something actionable," she said. "We set one organizationwide goal each year, and I work with senior leaders to set one additional goal customized for their teams."

Another integral part of the job is future visioning, she said. "I also get to do the fun things like managing employee events, coordinating our annual community give-back program and welcoming new hires."

Granger said soft skills like influence building and communication, as well as analytical skills and business acumen would be beneficial for someone to be a successful employee experience manager.

Gallivan added trusting your intuition to find the best solution for all, as well as being able to listen to others and think long term are critical skills to succeed in her role.

"Don't forget to have fun and be able to laugh," she said. "I love what I get to do. Making a difference for others is what fulfills my passion."


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