The Basics Of Human Resource Management

“Human Resources isn’t a thing we do. It’s the thing that runs our business." Steve Wynn

The broad concept of human resource management has suffered a lot of changes during the years, or better said, it got more comprehensive because this is indeed an area of constant dynamics.

HR Management refers to a series of processes, activities, and tasks conducted within the organization, which allow for efficient use of the human capital and the achievement of the company's mission and objectives. All these are crucial for the success of any organization.

In the following lines, we will explore more about this concept of HR Management, explain its importance, the typical activities conducted within the HR department, what an HR manager does and how you can end up working in HR.

“If you’re good to your staff when things are going well, they’ll rally when times go bad.”

-Mary Kay Ash

1. What Is Human Resource Management?

If you ask someone who is not an HR professional what is the job of an HR specialist, the majority will answer: to recruit and manage employees. But this is just a tiny part of the activity in the HR department.

The all-mighty Wikipedia offers a straightforward definition:

Human resource management (HRM or HR) is the strategic approach to the effective and efficient management of people in a company or organization such that they help their business gain a competitive advantage. It is designed to maximize employee performance in service of an employer's strategic objectives.

As a short history reminder, you should know that the human resources field began to take shape in 19th century Europe. The concept founders were Robert Owen (1771-1858) and Charles Babbage (1791-1871).

They concluded that people were crucial to the success of an organization. They believed that the well-being of employees led to perfect work; without healthy workers, the organization would not be sustainable.

Your employees are your most precious assets, so knowing how to manage them is undoubtedly the key to success.

Human resource management implies dealing with topics related to people such as hiring, compensation, benefits, employee motivation, wellness, organizational development, training and coaching, performance management, and safety.

When done well, HRM leads to better contribution from the employees and a higher level of productivity, and all these are important to accomplishing the company’s goals.

Here are the main functions human resource management usually serve:


2. Importance of HR Management

The importance of HR Management is sometimes neglected or minimized, but we assure you that without the contributions of the HR department, your organization would be less prosperous.

Here are the reasons you should focus on having excellent HR management: 

  • HR is in charge of the global talent management processes. In collaboration with other managers, HR is crucial for performance management, succession planning, and management development. HR needs help in all these, mainly from managers and executive staff, to design and execute the strategies.
  • HR is responsible for recruiting top talent. They offer support to the managers who decide on the hiring. Still, they do the most challenging parts: scheduling interviews, holding them, selecting candidates, monitoring, background checks, and more.
  • HR is in charge of researching and recommending employee benefits to attract and retain performant employees. They will also implement those benefits once approved by managers.
  • HR is responsible for monitoring the culture, making sure the employees know it, understand it, and have the desire to be in sync with it.
  • HR is in charge of researching market salaries and establishing an overall strategic compensation plan.
  • HR has a significant role in recommending strategies for employees and the organization that will lead to attaining the organization's strategic objectives.
  • HR will have a say (alone or with a dedicated department) in all workplace activities, events, celebrations, or team buildings opportunities. A particular person in charge of these events, or a whole HR department, will monitor the budget and supervise these tasks.
  • HR sets the rules for employee promotion (in collaboration with high management).
  • HR assists employees in conflicts, regardless of whether we speak about conflict with other employees or management aspects. HR professionals will have to find the proper position in these delicate situations: advocate, mediator, or coach for those in conflict.


3. The job of the HR Department

The HR department is at the core of any organization, regardless of its size or industry.

We can usually differentiate three directions of tasks that HR professionals have to conduct:

  • Administrative tasks: managing the hiring process, payroll, compensation, and benefits, keeping personnel files, and ensuring the organization is compliant with labor regulations.
  • Functional tasks: onboarding and training new hires, overseeing the whole training process across the company, employee retention, performance management, keeping absenteeism under control, etc., within the business.
  • Strategic tasks: maybe the newest concept in HR Management, it refers to establishing and maintaining a connection between employees and managers, promoting the company’s mission, and improving motivation and engagement among the staff.

The human resources department massively contributes to the organizations’ culture. If HR genuinely cares about the well-being of employees, the culture will be one of transparency and progress.


4. The role of an HR Manager

The HR Manager has a crucial contribution to the company’s culture, progress, and extraordinary staffing. Here are the most critical functions he serves:

  • Recruiting talent - we are obviously talking about overseeing the process as a whole, but depending on every company, the HR Manager can be more or less involved. Usually, they conduct final interviews with candidates. Another matter they are responsible for is the onboarding process: designing it and making sure it’s thoroughly implemented.
  • Compensation and benefits - supervise the payroll department to make sure salaries and benefits are correctly processed. They may be in close collaboration also with the accounting department. Another subject they need to attend to is finding great incentive programs for attracting new talent. Don’t forget about employee safety, well-being, wellness, and healthy work-life balance.
  • Learning and development - designing and implementing training programs for new hires and constant training for all employees to allow them to grow professionally. Learn more about employee development.
  • Mediation and compliance - the HR managers are in charge of compliance with specific work standards such as 0 discrimination based on gender or equal employment opportunities. They will also oversee the relationships between employees or between employees and managers and handle delicate matters such as disciplinary actions or complaints.

HR Managers participate in executive, management, and company staff meetings.

An effective HR manager should have and display the following skills:

  • Advanced communication skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Conflict management
  • Training and development skills
  • Decision-making skills
  • Adaptability to change
  • Ability to use Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS)
  • Empathy, discretion, and ethics
  • Negotiation skills
  • Flexibility and initiative.


5.  How to get a job in HR?

If you plan your education and work experience around the HR field, it will be easier to succeed in this profession. Being an HR professional requires essential interpersonal relations, communication, integrity, and confidentiality.

When looking for an entry-level job in HR, you should own one of the following:

  • A college degree in HR
  • A different degree in a related subject, like business, legal or organizational psychology, backed up with appropriate certifications.
  • You could also have many years in a company, in an administrative/operation role, and the transition to a position in HR.

Entry-level HR jobs can be challenging to find, but many companies hire new graduates to learn through direct work.

Internships are crucial for gaining experience, as it is in any other field. It’s the best chance you have to learn from more experienced colleagues and managers, plus it’s a way to be visible within the company.


Human resource management is essential for every company, and it requires flexible, communicative, candid, and adaptable people who are willing to assist and help others. Make sure you take time to find the HR professionals your organization needs, and you will all succeed.

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