Human Resources, also called HR, derived from what was formerly known as the personnel department. The former personal department worked independently from the other departments in the organization and was primarily responsible for handling the administrative duties for the company. In essence, personnel handled the recruiting and interviewing of job candidates and the exit interviews for the employees who terminated employment with the company. Personnel were also responsible for keeping track of employees’ attendance records, employment law, administering benefits, and were pretty much reactive in supporting the needs of the organization. This was the extent of the duties that were performed by the personnel department.
Nowadays, HR is proactive in the strategic planning process and the development of an organization. HR plays an integral role in the success of the organization overall –by recruiting and selecting the best candidates to fill job vacancies. Furthermore, HR continues to work closely with management teams within the company to ensure workforce efficiency. There are several facets of Human Resources today. The major functions of Human Resources are: strategic management, workforce planning and employment, human resource development, policy formulation, total rewards, labor relations, and risk management. Let’s take a look at the functions of HR and how each impacts an organization.
1. Strategic Management
Human Resource professionals are proactive in planning for the future by meeting the continuous short-term and long-term strategic objectives of the organization.
2. Workforce Planning and Employment (recruitment and selection)
Workforce planning involves recruitment, selection, orientation, and exit process. Department managers collaborate with Human Resources to determine staffing needs and to fill job vacancies in a timely manner whenever the need(s) arise. The HR recruitment team strategically recruits and selects only the best candidates for the company and ensures workforce efficiency thereafter in an effort to help the organization accomplish it goals and objectives.
3. Human Resource Development (training & development)
HR is responsible for ensuring that employees receive the appropriate training (whether in-house or off-site) to adequately perform their jobs. Thus, employees will be equipped to help achieve desired departmental and company goals and objectives. Encouraging employees to take advantage of the tuition reimbursement benefit will give employees an incentive to further their education and use their acquired skills and knowledge for the betterment of the company in general. HR Specialist also assists with change management and performance management needs of the organization.
4. Total Rewards (compensation & benefits)
The HR benefits team is responsible for acquiring and administering an attractive compensation and benefits package for new hires. This might include: a competitive salary range, medical and dental insurance, choice of life insurance, tuition reimbursement, 401k, flexible spending account, and more. The HR recruiter should promote and offer an attractive rewards package to those candidates who meet the selection criteria at some point during the interview process. A competitive reward package will attract top talent and hopefully retain them once hired.
Most organizations use a computerized system, Human Resource Information System (HRIS) to in-put and keep track of employee data. HR compensation analyst and payroll specialist oversees the salary administrations of new hires, process payroll, employee benefits, attendance, vacation days, and maintain employees files. Payroll specialist also responds to employee inquiries regarding their salaries and other benefits.
5. Policy Formulation
Human Resources keeps new hires and current employees abreast of the policies and procedures of the organization. This might include (but not limited to) the distribution of employee handbook, code of conduct manual, and performance appraisals guidelines.
6. Employee and Labor Relations
The employee relations team seeks to align the employees’ needs and rights with the needs of the organization. Things such as: union and non-union issues, discrimination issues, and sexual harassment claims are matters that should be handled by the labor relations department. Employers must stay in compliance with the law in making sure that every employee is treated fairly. Employees are encouraged to contact employee relations should they ever feel that they were treated unfairly or to resolve other workplace problems.
7. Risk Management
The HR risk management team along with the department manager-should be proactive in detecting risk items that could pose a possible threat to the company: such as the removal of hazardous waste material from a work area within the organization. Health care institutions in particular, should take extra precautions in providing a safe work environment for its workers as well as its clients and customers. HR should provide safety training and issue handbooks to its employees to educate them on risk management issues. Employers face a legal obligation to provide a safe and hazard free work environment. Employers must also comply with OSHA (occupational safety and health administration) in keeping accurate records for all work related injuries.
Concluding, understandably, some may still use the terms personnel and human resources interchangeably. However, keep in min that a HR professional’s role is not just limited to administrative duties in the company anymore, but instead, they provide continuous support in the planning process and the development of an organization.