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 & vision, 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. What do people in HR work on?

You may feel that the HR department is one of the most confusing in the whole organization. You cannot be blamed. This is, unfortunately, a common thought nowadays.

Everyone knows HR is crucial for a company, regardless of its size or industry. But does everyone know WHY HR is important? An informed employee and employer should be aware in 2022 of the HR department's primary responsibilities.

Stay with us because we will put together the 10 pivotal responsibilities of an HR department and of HR professionals in the following lines. Then we will also mention when it is indispensable to contact the HR department if you are an employee.

Human Resources is the division of an organization/business whose main purpose is to support the people in that organization. They handle many processes, from searching, screening, recruiting, training employees to handle employee benefits, payroll, maintaining company culture, and many more.

Here are the ten key responsibilities HR handle on a daily basis:

1.    Recruiting

For this task, HR professionals need to understand the company's recruiting needs, which implies discussions with hiring managers and/or stakeholders, market analysis, creating and getting approval for budgets, and creating ads for job openings. 

Then they will screen resumes, check backgrounds, set up and establish interviews and give feedback as professionals.

Not every HR professional is a recruiter; you need special training and the right skills.

This responsibility is essential for the development of every organization.


2.    Processing payroll

Payroll used to be an awful challenge for HR practitioners. It's all about keeping track of every worked hour for employees, the right reimbursement, and the right way to calculate taxes. Luckily, nowadays, modern payroll software makes this task much easier, allowing payroll management with fewer errors.

 

3.    Managing benefits packages

This starts with analyzing what should be offered to top talent to attract them and your current employees for better retention. HR should be in charge of this duty, and they usually propose the whole compensation and benefits packages, which are approved by higher management. 

HR will examine if the offered salaries in your company are competitive enough.

Regarding the benefits, the HR department will consider health and dental insurance, retirement plans, life insurance, and other benefits of various types (well-being, sports, etc.).

All questions the employees may have regarding compensations and benefits will be managed by HR.

 

4.    Promoting a safe work environment

Safety at work is a very important legal requirement that also falls into the hands of the HR department. Safety at the workplace must be ensured under The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which means HR will oversee this task. They will be responsible for safety training and for keeping track of any issues that may arise regarding the employees' safety.

 

5.    Conducting disciplinary actions

Disciplinary actions represent a sensitive matter, where HR professionals need to conduct themselves transparently and in accordance with the company's procedures. 

Employee discipline is desired in every organization, and the HR department has much to say about this area. Every situation is unique, so no two cases and two employees can be treated the same.

When discussing disciplinary actions, we refer to cases when employees misbehave in various ways, from not doing their job as they are supposed to, to disrespecting managers/colleagues or constantly arriving late to work. As a common rule, HR professionals first resort to verbal warnings before getting to written ones.

 

6.    Managing and guiding employee relations

We are referring to employer-employee relations, a crucial part of every organization because it's desired that the workforce and the management have a good or even great relationship.

HR has a significant role mainly if we refer to unionized places of work, and specific industries, where the concept of a union is very important. In these cases, the HR department works as a point of contact between managers and employees, and it's the HR professionals' job to enhance this relationship.

 

7.    Making sure compliance with labor laws is never an issue

Another challenging task for HR. They are also responsible for the company to comply with all applicable labor regulations. Failure to do so can generate unsafe working conditions, employee complaints, and even lawsuits.

Compliance refers to both state and federal laws, and there are many to be taken into consideration. The most important ones are the National Labor Relations Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Fair Labor Standards Act.

 

8.    Keeping policies updated

Framing employee-related policies is another challenge and are something that has to be done and revised constantly.

This process comprises more people, not just the HR department, but also upper management and even stakeholders in companies where there is such a category.

At least once a year, HR should check and see if the policies still serve their initial purpose and if they support the employees. Another time to change policies is when major transformations are carried out throughout the organization.

 

9.    Supervising training programs

Learning and development are crucial functions for any organization and usually fall into the HR department's hands. A specialized person should handle this area.

Depending on the business needs, employees will need to acquire new skills or even reinvent themselves. So we are talking about possible mandatory or optional training.

HR handles regular and ongoing employee training and even special training for upper management. 

The top 10 employee development areas include:

  • Communication
  • Leadership skills
  • Conflict resolution
  • Teamwork
  • Management skills
  • Managing change
  • Time management
  • Project management
  • Goal setting
  • Collaboration

Learn more about the areas of improvement for employees.

 

10.    Maintaining employee records

Maintaining employee records is directed by the law, and who better for this task than the HR department? These files help in all kinds of analysis needed by the employer or in checking what skills the employees lack and should have. Nonetheless, HR records comprise the personal details of every employee, along with emergency contact numbers, in case these are needed.

Tip: HR managers within small to mid-sized businesses enjoy LeaveBoard's cloud-based employee directory.


The Human Resource Framework

McLean & Company has a very clear framework when handling HR management to help with accountability within the HR department and know exactly who deals with what.


10 Essential Skills HR Managers Must Have

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

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

 

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.

 

6. When to contact the HR department?

Interaction with all employees is the key to an efficient HR department. This is why, during the onboarding process, every new hire must be informed about how they can reach out to HR professionals.

Find some of the most important cases when employees should not have reserves in contacting the HR department:

  • When they have inquiries regarding the compensation and benefits package or any other rights imposed by law.
  • When they have been the victim of harassment, either from a colleague or manager.
  • If their circumstances change and this requires a change in their work, such as the moment of pregnancy.
  • If they have questions about promotion opportunities.

An organization shows its true colors also through its HR department, so make sure you choose the right team for this work. An effective HR department will lead the organization to success in no time.

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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