Polly has been working in HR (Human Resources) for six years now. She leads a team in a large HR department in a big water company. We spoke to her about how she got to where she is now – and why she chose HR as a career. This is what she told us.
Working in HR – Polly’s Story
‘I didn’t make a specific choice to go into HR until after university. I actually studied marketing and thought I would go into something in that area. I did take one marketing role soon after graduating, but I found that I didn’t really enjoy it. I never felt completely welcome there and their HR team messed up my salary and holiday and took ages to sort it out – which made me feel really frustrated and sidelined. I liked the creative side of the role, but a lot of the people I was interacting with were on the other side of a computer screen. I didn’t feel as if I really got to know them. I left that job to go travelling and then, when I got back, took an HR assistant role. It was to be a stopgap – I didn’t think I would stay – but I found that I really enjoyed it.
I liked the fact that I was right at the centre of the organisation, helping it all to run smoothly. In working in HR, you often get a better overview of a whole company and how it works – which can be really satisfying.
I also really enjoy welcoming new staff, doing inductions and helping them feel welcome. I didn’t have a great experience of being welcomed and supported in my first job – so I know how much difference it can make. Plus, you get to know people from all over the organisation.
I worked my way up to my current position. It took a few years but I think the fact I’ve been here a while really helps – I’ve got a good understanding of the organisation and its staff. When you’ve been somewhere a while, you can start to see trends. That helps you understand more about why more staff leave at certain times, for example, and how we can prevent that happening again.
Now I get to start all sorts of new initiatives to improve staff experiences. I started regular lunch and learn sessions that are really fun – I like considering which new experts we can invite in and new topics that can be taught. We don’t just focus on work topics – although there are some of them too – sometimes it’s just a good opportunity to get everyone together and do something totally new.
I’ve also started work on our mental health and wellbeing strategy recently. We’re reviewing our policies and doing an audit to understand whether our policies are really being put into practice effectively. It will be really interesting to hear more about staff experiences and then work out what we can do to help improve things. Working in HR is really all about helping people feel happy and supported in the workplace – so that they can do their best work.
Working in HR, there are tricky bits too – when people are having problems with their managers, it can be hard to sort out. But when you do manage to find a resolution that works for everyone, it’s really satisfying. And luckily I have good support from my manager too.
It wasn’t ever something I imagined I’d be doing, but I do enjoy being the foundation of a workforce. It’s not just managing payslips and admin –it’s a problem solving, people focused job – there’s a real human element to it.’