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Article by: John Bernatovicz — View more articles by John Bernatovicz

Posted on: December 22, 2020

HR Like a Boss BONUS Episode: Joe Szafraniec

Please visit www.willory.com/hrlab and take the survey on the qualities that someone who does HR like a boss should have. 

This week and next, we're releasing HR Like a Boss exclusively as a podcast. You can check out HR Like a Boss wherever you listen to podcasts, including iHeart Radio! 

HR Like a Boss book sneak peek below:

Upon graduation, I began my ADP career, which, when I joined was only a payroll firm but grew its offerings into HR during my time there. Rapidly it became obvious to me as I called on business owners, mostly small businesses at first, who saw the HR (and payroll) functions as necessary evils. Something they had to do to “check a box,” yet something they kept at arm’s length as it was a cost center, not a revenue producer. I didn’t know it then, but perhaps I saw why the “seat at the table” for HR professionals in smaller companies was so fleeting. Owners may not have hated HR – but they certainly didn’t want much to do with the function.

When I progressed in my ADP career to major accounts, I started to see a shift in more HR leaders that were businesspeople first, HR professionals second. I met Joe Szafraniec, who is a businessperson who oversees HR.

Joe made a tremendously concerted effort to build and develop business relationships by getting to know people personally while also understanding professional objectives. He had a level of expertise in compensation and benefits, but what made him a “boss” was his knack for seeing the big, organizational picture.

Joseph Szafraniec is the Vice President, Employee Relations for Materion Corporation in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, where he oversees the employee relations strategy, policy, and human resources services. Before joining Materion, Joe was Director, Employee Benefits at AK Steel Company. Joe is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management and serves on the Northeast Ohio fundraising board of the American Lung Association.

When we think about human resources, remember that most of us are serving businesses that need to make money, and there’s nothing wrong with that. HR’s role within the organization should be to support the business. There are a lot of different ways for HR to support a business, including getting the right people in the right place to unleash their full potential to the mutual benefit of all the stakeholders. Stakeholders include shareholders, customers, employees, business partners, the communities in which we operate, the regulatory agencies which govern our industry, and so forth. We need to be ethically and socially aware as well as (obviously) compliant. It’s a lot, but it is why we have HR in the first place.

I will tell you that I enjoyed making the business successful. And it took me a few years to realize the broader business perspective. At first, as HR professionals, we’re focused on the day-to-day stuff.


Keep your eye on the HR Like a Boss space as we're getting close to some big announcements!