My time supporting the Human Resources Department

29. Aug 2018 | Education + Careers

How do personnel managers deal with conflicts? What distinguishes a promising job-application from less successful counterparts – what does a personnel officer’s keen eye look out for? How does the Human Resources-Department contribute to a positive work environment? In short: What is being done in HR and could this be the right job for me? Such questions whizzed around in my mind before I was able to begin my placement at Herth+Buss. What I could experience since…

Born and raised near Offenbach, I decided in 2016 to return to my British roots and dare study Psychology abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland. Ever since, I’ve been dealing with questions from every nook and cranny of the far-reaching field. Examples include:

 What is intelligence and what does the IQ really reveal about you? How is it possible that toddlers effortlessly learn countless new words a day but I could never remember my French vocabulary. How do people make decisions – is the mind or your gut instinct more powerful? In which environment are people most productive – are open or individual offices more beneficial?                  

For two years now, I’m trying to answer these and many similarly fascinating questions with the help of professors, literature, data and PowerPoint presentations.

Through the course of my studies, I left Sigmund Freud and his (in)famous couch behind and gravitated toward business psychology. Recently, I wanted to apply and test my theoretical knowledge in the real world of actual business. Eventually, my application arrived on the desk three feet to my right. (In the hands of my current office co-workers, who soon offered for me to gain valuable work experience in their Human Resources-Department.) That’s how I got to where I am: four weeks into my two-month placement at Herth+Buss.

From the very beginning I was allowed to help with the introduction of the new apprentices.

The decision to apply at Herth+Buss and to promptly accept the offer they kindly extended did not give me sleepless nights. Initially, an employee introduced me to the company, highlighting the pleasant working atmosphere. A glance at the company’s website revealed that Herth+Buss cherishes its employees and boasts years of experience in education and development. Additionally, Herth+Buss is easily accessible and offered me my desired position for my proposed period.

Theory and Practice – Are There Differences?  

Four weeks into my internship, I am still perfectly happy with the decision I made. (And I’m not only writing that because my colleagues will later read this article). I received a warm and patient welcome, here, at Herth+Buss. New tasks are explained to me in a way that I can then complete them on my own. The observant glance over my shoulder has gradually turned into but a glimpse every once in a while. Disregarding my occasional desperate cries for help, I now largely work independently.

I am always actively supported by my colleagues.

Since my first days, I realised, however, that the theories presented by my professors and textbooks are not representative of reality. Qualities such as reliability, effective communication and enthusiasm have been much more valuable here than my eight-page “Essay on the Texts of B.F. Skinner” in semester three. It appears to me that real world experience clearly outweighs theories A, B and C. Hence, I’m all the more grateful for this opportunity to gain some here, early on.

My Responsibilities in the Human Resources Department

As part of my internship, I get to sit in on occasional interviews and conversations with employees. Most – but no less important - tasks, however, play out in the two-dimensional world of zeros and ones. With approximately 250 employees, I can assure you there are plenty of sick notices, requests for time off, clocking errors, applications, and files upon files that need to be maintained manually. While I, despite my greatest efforts, continue to commit blunders now and then, I am thoroughly impressed by how precisely and flawlessly my colleagues manage to deal with these tasks (and spot my ever error before they cause any damage. Thanks!). This meticulous thoroughness ensures that processes are documented without a gap and that the system continues to work seamlessly.

Now I can carry out my tasks independently at my digital workplace.

Apart from these daily duties, I work on increasingly complex topics. Possibly because entering a holiday request no longer takes me 20 minutes but more like 20 seconds. Thus, I now, for example, race against time itself to conduct research in order to maintain and create contemporary policies. To state another example, I am responsible for conceptualising, conducting and analysing employee-satisfaction surveys. My background in Psychology becomes particularly helpful here.

During my work I have already gained plenty of valuable insights and a clearer idea of the job and work environment. Following my placement in the Human Resources-Department, I will return to Edinburgh and my third year of studies. There, I will be confronted with subjects such as Intelligence at Work, Cognition across the Lifespanand Consumer Behaviour, which I will critically reflect upon more than ever. What happens next… only time will tell. In any case, I will fondly remember Herth+Buss and who knows; maybe my colleagues might soon find another application of mine on their desks.