What is a Human Resource Department?

The human resource department is concerned with hiring, training, compensating, managing, and retaining employees.

To put it simply, the HR department deals with any employee-related matter. Every business has a certain capital – Be it money, valuables, properties, or goods. However, it is of little use if there are no people governing it. Employees, or human resources, are the driving force behind any company’s success and, therefore, a highly valuable asset.

The HR department is responsible for taking care of the wellbeing, motivation, safety, compensation, and benefits of a company’s employees. Additionally, it plays a major part in developing a workplace culture. So, the job of the human resource department can make or break a company’s success.

What does the human research department do?

Since employees lie at the core of any company, the Human Resource Department has a diversity of tasks. The field is so complex that, in bigger companies, the HR department usually encompasses several HR people.

On the one hand, the department is concerned with the needs of the employees. Unlike the company managers and executives, the HR department is specifically there to focus on the employees. HR people make sure that they have all the resources to successfully do their job. They also ensure that the work environment and atmosphere is satisfactory, so the employees feel comfortable. HR is responsible for finding, onboarding, firing, and retaining employees.

As mentioned above, the Human Resource Department has a plethora of functions. Its core mission is to ensure that the human capital of an organization is the most effective possible. Some functions include:

  • Analyzing hiring needs and carrying out the recruiting, onboarding, and training process
  • Making sure that the company operates under the federal laws and policies
  • Managing employee benefits
  • Making sure that the company’s health and safety policies are adequate
  • Carrying out administrative task, such as doing the taxes and implementing disciplinary actions

Which roles are there in HR?

In small companies, there is often only one HR person in charge of the matters discussed. However, in large companies usually several professionals are involved. They oversee different functions withing the HR sector and usually report to the HR Director or Manager. Possible career titles could include:

  • HR manager
  • HR generalist
  • Recruiter
  • Employment services manager

Over the past years, HR has undergone many changes. In the past, it primarily had an administrative focus. Now, there are much more functions in HR than originally. The administrative side of things is not the main concern anymore. Aspects such as utilizing the potential and motivation of employees accordingly and adding value to the company have become much more important in business. So, HR people also have to bring business qualities to the table in order to succeed in their job.

It is important for HR people to keep an eye on business trends. They are advised to attend further trainings and constantly familiarize themselves with relevant literature and media surrounding the topic. It should also be in the best interest of the department to attend or host HR conferences and summits for further training.

7 central functions of the human resource department

  1. Finding Staff

Even though technology is on the rise, employees are still needed in every organization. Therefore, one of the most important tasks of the HR department is finding the right staff for a position. But recruiting is not as straightforward as one might think, and includes managing budgets, analyzing the market and taking care of the recruitment process.

HR managers have to keep a close eye on how the company is performing, and in which positions extra staff might be necessary. Then, they need to carve out a budget and take over the recruitment and onboarding process. Additionally, HR people need to be actively involved in conducting job interviews and selecting the perfect person for the post. It is the task of HR to negotiate a satisfactory compensation for both the employee and the company.

  1. Installing Workplace Policies

Every organization has its own rules and policies that ensure smooth running and a productive company atmosphere. HR is responsible for bringing these policies to paper and making sure that they are fair for everyone involved. They are the ones communicating the policy to the employees and need to keep a close eye on how they view and adapt to it.

The conduction of disciplinary actions and policies is why HR has a bad rep for some people. Poor implementation of these measures can lead to the loss of employees and bad reputations. If handled properly, however, it can benefit employers as well as employees. Classic policies induced by HR could include the dress code, rules surrounding vacation times or general disciplinary policies.

  1. Benefits and Compensation

Determining the right compensation can be a minefield. It should be fair, high enough to make recruiting new employees easier, and meet the industry standards. There are many factors that need to be considered when installing fair pay systems in an organization: The occupation of the individual employees, the years they have been with the company, education and experience.

Pay does not only include the monthly payroll. Additional to that, HR needs to take, vacation, maternity leaves, sick leaves, and bonuses into consideration.

They are also responsible for keeping their own company’s benefits as well as those of the competitors in check. Top talent oftentimes favors benefits over high wages, so HR needs to make sure that the company can compete in the job market.

  1. Employee Retention

Retention needs to be a constant priority for any company. HR needs to make sure that employees are satisfied, so that they are happy to stay with the organization for the long run. They also need to focus on health and safety issues and implement complementary measures and policies.

Against popular belief, compensation is not the main reason people might choose to leave a job. It also often comes down to the company culture, friction between managers and co-workers or an unsatisfactory workplace environment and atmosphere.

The HR team forms the interface for employees and employees. It is a place where employees can utter concerns, express their needs, manage conflicts, and inform themselves about company policies. All without the stress of going directly to the boss with uncomfortable questions and inquiries.

  1. Employee Training

Another reason employees might leave, is because they do not feel like they are able to grow and evolve within a company. It is the job of HR to make sure employees have the ability and resources to further advance their skills, which also makes them more productive and valuable for the company. Employees will be more motivated and satisfied in their positions, which can ensure their loyalty to the organization.

Training can be boosted with the implementation of special programs, focusing not only on the employee’s position, but also on general things that make working together more seamless:

  • Training on special (computer) programs employees need to advance their careers, or other career skills
  • Team building activities to ensure a smooth and motivated co-working experience
  • Communication trainings
  • General company policy training, for example on ethics
  1. Administration

Next to handling compensation and installing policies, the administrative side of HR includes other important things as well. There are a plethora of guidelines surrounding employment policies and rules, and the HR Department needs to be up-to-date with them all. Some of these laws include health and safety, sexual harassment and discrimination policies, minimum wage, and general labor laws. It is important to note that these rules and policies are subject to constant change.

This goes hand in hand with worker protection policies which, depending on the industry, are more of a talking point and ever-changing than in others. Worker safety should be one of the most important concerns of any company, and it is up to the HR department to actively enforce it in the workplace.

This administrative area of responsibility also encompasses keeping up to date with work trends. For example, the recent rise of popularity of flexibility in working hours and remote work.

  1. Thinking beyond the company structure

The HR department’s many responsibilities concern a company’s internal factors that need to be governed and controlled. However, every company will be hit with unexpected and uncontrollable external factors. These could include the changes in industry and employment laws, as well as environmental issues and changes. But they can also be on a small scale, like the expectations of the individual employees. The HR department needs to be constantly aware of these scenarios and prepared when they hit.