Human resources functions are significantly different from HR practices. Functions are comprised of transactional activities that can be handled in-house or easily outsourced. Practices are part conceptual, part implementation of an HR strategy, comprised of systems that follow the normal or customary way of doing business. The term “best practices” refers to the HR systems that have the greatest impact on the workforce and the organization.
Human resources transactional functions include benefits administration, record keeping and new employee and payroll processing. The extent to which HR department staff handle these transactional functions depends on their expertise, size of the workforce and the departmental budget.
In many cases, the department’s budget can support outsourcing these transactional functions, thus leaving time for HR staff to devote its attention to HR strategic management instead of focusing on personnel administration-type duties.
Recruitment and Selection
HR recruitment and selection practices generally are based on the organization’s mission and the workplace culture. For example, employers that recognize the value of workplace diversity embrace recruitment practices designed to attract a diverse applicant pool. Recruitment practices underlie recruiting activities and functions such as sponsoring career fairs at colleges and universities with diverse student populations, advertising job vacancies across several venues to reach a broad audience.
Achieving Work-Life Balance
Implementing flexible work schedules, providing employees with telecommuting options and training supervisors to spot signs of workplace stress suggests the organizational culture supports employees achieving work-life balance. Managing scheduling logistics, modifying technology for remote access and conducting training sessions are essentially transactional functions. However, these functions ultimately create a results-oriented work environment because they enable greater efficiency and, thus, increase the time employees have to devote to family obligations and personal endeavors.
Training and Development
Training and development are HR management functions that include new-employee orientation, job skills training, leadership training and professional development. These activities improve employees’ job skills in their current positions and equip them with skills and expertise for cross-functional work that can increase their value to the organization. Professional development supports an organization’s succession planning strategy by preparing future leaders for higher-level jobs and more responsibility. HR management training and development functions reflect promotion-from-within practices and support employees’ work goals.
Compensation and Benefits
Compensation and benefits often are viewed together, presenting a comprehensive view of how employers reward their employees. However, a look at compensation by itself offers a clearer picture of HR management practices because total employee wages, including salary, benefits and related taxes, can comprise up to 70 percent of an employer’s cost to operate her business, according to a 2019 report. Benefits alone can account for 30% of total labor costs, and are rising at a rapid rate, largely due to increases in health care benefits.