What Is Human Resources (HR)?
Human resources (HR) is the division of a business that is charged with finding, screening, recruiting, and training job applicants, as well as administering employee-benefit programs. HR plays a key role in helping companies deal with a fast-changing business environment and a greater demand for quality employees in the 21st century.
John R. Commons, an American institutional economist, first coined the term “human resource” in his book “The Distribution of Wealth,” published in 1893. However, it was not until the 19th century that HR departments were formerly developed and tasked with addressing misunderstandings between employees and their employers.
Understanding Human Resources.
The presence of an HR department is an essential component of any business, regardless of the organization’s size. An HR department is tasked with maximizing employee productivity and protecting the company from any issues that may arise within the workforce. HR responsibilities include compensation and benefits, recruitment, firing, and keeping up to date with any laws that may affect the company and its employees.
Research conducted by The Conference Board, a member-driven economic think tank, has found six key people-related activities that HR must effectively do to add value to a company.
▪️ Managing and using people effectively.
▪️ Tying performance appraisal and compensation to competencies.
▪️ Developing competencies that enhance individual and organizational performance.
▪️ Increasing the innovation, creativity, and flexibility necessary to enhance competitiveness.
▪️ Applying new approaches to work process design, succession planning, career development, and inter-organizational mobility.
▪️ Managing the implementation and integration of technology through improved staffing, training, and communication with employees.
An HR department that adopts HRM strategies typically plays a more active role in improving an organization’s workforce. They may recommend processes, approaches, and business solutions to management. Google is one example of an organization that has adopted a more active approach to employee relations through their HR department. The company offers tons of employee perks, and the company headquarters have a wide range of facilities for employees, including wellness centers, roller hockey rinks, and horseshoe pits. For Google, happy employees are equivalent to productive employees.
Objectives in Human Resources.
Human resource professionals serve as the heart of an organization. They help hire the people who move a business forward, as well as ensuring those workers are paid and have benefits. They’re also responsible for terminating employees when necessary. An HR team has a clearly defined set of duties, just as every other team in a business does. This includes setting actionable policies and helping with the creation of a work culture that ensures high worker morale.
1. Building a Strong Workforce.
A good team starts at the point of hiring. Although HR generally isn’t the final decider on hiring, you’ll likely make recommendations and even coordinate and sit in on interviews. You’ll also probably be responsible for recruiting candidates, whether through posts on job boards or reaching out to existing connections.
The larger your candidate pool during hiring, the better the odds that you’ll find the best person for the job. Make sure you have a sound recruitment process in place so you’ll be able to narrow the list down to only those who have the most relevant qualifications. Then, during the interview process, make sure you hire based on solid reasons – gut decisions are only right about 50 percent of the time.
2. Supporting Employees.
No matter who in your organization will be managing an employee, HR is the go-to source for onboarding. HR should work hard to create a process that makes it as easy as possible, both for themselves and the new employee, to sign all relevant documents and get started. For a smoother first day, this process can even start beforehand, in the days following official job acceptance.
From that first day, though, HR usually serves as a consultant to employees, who need to feel that they can trust that anything they say won’t be shared outside of the HR department. This starts with questions about benefits and pay, but it also includes serious talks about issues they’re having with their own supervisors and co-workers. HR also has a responsibility to make sure anything said in a closed-door meeting will not only be kept confidential, but also will be taken seriously and investigated.
3. Supporting Managers.
Managers rely heavily on HR to support them as they hire, manage and occasionally terminate workers. This starts with having fully-formed policies in place that supervisors can consult. If you have a dress code, for instance, managers have more leverage if an employee shows up for a client meeting wearing flip-flops, cargo shorts and a T-shirt.
In addition to writing and translating policies for managers, HR also often serves as a consultant on a one-on-one basis. A manager may have two employees who are disrupting the work environment with constant fighting, for instance. If disciplinary action or termination needs to take place, HR will help with that, gathering paperwork and including it in the employee’s personnel file.
4. Building a Strong Work Culture.
Today’s businesses realize the importance of work culture to employee morale. It’s important that HR teams realize the role this plays and help set an environment that is both professional and motivating. it actually means creating an environment where employees know the rules and follow them, and also feel appreciated in the work they do every day.
Some things HR can do to reach the objective of a positive work culture include:
▪️ Training managers to positively motivate employees through positive reinforcement and worker recognition.
▪️ Ensuring employees have a good work-life balance.
▪️ Fairly enforcing rules and guidelines.
▪️ Encouraging bosses to be mentors.
▪️ Initiating programs that bring fun into the workforce, such as birthday celebrations and “lunch and learns.”
▪️ Ensuring policies are employee-friendly.
Alternatives to Human Resources.
Many of the functions of a human resource may in some cases be executed by non-human resources. In other words, robots or computers sometimes replace human employees, especially in hazardous conditions or for repetitive tasks. This is called automation, and it can greatly improve efficiency.
For example, you may often find robots on production lines, such as for cars. Automating certain parts of the production can increase production speed, but humans are still needed for some tasks, especially those that involve critical thinking.
Human resources functions may also be executed by specialized departments or staff. Instead of a general human resources manager, there may be a compensation and benefits manager, a training supervisor, or an employee recruitment specialist. Such specialization allows for greater efficiency and, often, improved profitability.
Most Important Characteristics of Human Resource Management.
Some of the most important characteristics of Human Resource Management are as follows:
1. It is an art and a science:
The art and science of HRM is indeed very complex. HRM is both the art of managing people by recourse to creative and innovative approaches; it is a science as well because of the precision and rigorous application of theory that is required.
2. It is pervasive:
Development of HRM covers all levels and all categories of people, and management and operational staff. No discrimination is made between any levels or categories. All those who are managers have to perform HRM. It is pervasive also because it is required in every department of the organisation. All kinds of organisations, profit or non-profit making, have to follow HRM.
3. It is a continuous process:
First, it is a process as there are number of functions to be performed in a series, beginning with human resource planning to recruitment to selection, to training to performance appraisal.
To be specific, the HRM process includes acquisition (HR planning, recruitment, selection, placement, socialisation), development (training and development, and career development), utilisation (job design, motivation, performance appraisal and reward management), and maintenance (labour relations, employee discipline, grievance handling, welfare, and termination). Second, it is continuous, because HRM is a never-ending process.
4. HRM is a service function:
HRM is not a profit centre. It serves all other functional departments. But the basic responsibility always lies with the line managers. HRM is a staff function – a facilitator. The HR Manager has line authority only within his own department, but has staff authority as far as other departments are concerned.
5. HRM must be regulation-friendly:
The HRM function has to be discharged in a manner that legal dictates are not violated. Equal opportunity and equal pay for all, inclusion of communities in employment, inclusion of tribal’s (like Posco or Vedanta projects) and farmers in the benefits and non-violation of human rights must be taken care of by the HRM.
6. Interdisciplinary and fast changing:
It is encompassing welfare, manpower, personnel management, and keeps close association with employee and industrial relations. It is multi- disciplinary activity utilising knowledge and inputs from psychology, sociology, economics, etc. It is changing itself in accordance with the changing environment. It has travelled from exploitation of workers to treating them as equal partners in the task.
7. Focus on results:
HRM is performance oriented. It has its focus on results, rather than on rules. It encourages people to give their 100%. It tries to secure the best from people by winning the whole hearted cooperation. It is a process of bringing people and organization together so that the goals of each are met. It is commitment oriented.
HRM is about people at work both as individuals and a group. It tries to help employees to develop their potential fully. It comprises people-related functions like hiring, training and development, performance appraisal, working environment, etc.HRM has the responsibility of building human capital. People are vital for achieving organizational goals. Organizational performance depends on the quality of people and employees.
9. Human relations philosophy:
HRM is a philosophy and the basic assumption is that employees are human beings and not a factor of production like land, labour or capital. HRM recognises individuality and individual differences. Every manager to be successful must possess social skills to manage people with differing needs.
10. An integrated concept:
HRM in its scope includes Personnel aspect, Welfare aspect and Industrial relations aspect in itself. It is also integrated as it concern with not only acquisition, but also development, utilisation, and maintenance.
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Sherrie Scott, “Objectives in Human Resources”، Chron
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Smriti Chand, “10 Most Important Characteristics of Human Resource Management”, Your Article Library