Human Resources (HR) is the unsung hero of a company, the department that ensures jobs are filled by competent employees and keeps the workplace running smoothly. The HR department performs many other functions that directly affect the day-to-day success of a company.
Here are nine of the top HR activities to help you understand the importance of HR and why you should invest in HR at your own company.
One of the most important HR activities is recruitment, where HR finds, screens, and selects candidates to fill open positions in a company.
HR’s recruitment policies and the traits they screen for can set the tone for the entire workplace: how competent the company’s employees are, if they prioritize cooperation or working independently, and if there are any volatile characters in the workplace.
If done well, a smooth and efficient hiring process can quickly fill the company with employees who are qualified in both technical and soft skills, creating a hard-working and harmonious environment that lets the company focus on success.
Learning and Development
Next up is learning and development (L&D), which helps employees develop their knowledge, skills, and capabilities to help them as a person, professional, and member of the organization.
This is done by sitting down with employees and understanding their current knowledge and training, setting goals for their growth, designing training courses to help them develop their skills, and monitoring their progress.
Training the company’s employees encourages job satisfaction and loyalty. It keeps costs down as the company can promote and move around employees internally, rather than going through the arduous process of hiring new employees.
By tracking and evaluating employee performance, HR ensures that the company identifies, retains, and rewards the most valuable employees, gives feedback on how employees are doing, and lets go of workers who aren’t the best fit for the job. This trims and aligns the workforce with the company’s strategic goals.
Though performance evaluations are traditionally done every three to six months, some companies and employees prefer to track performance and give feedback in real time. Either way, HR must communicate with managers to set evaluation criteria and procedures to record and analyze employee performance.
Performance management and evaluation is like going to the doctor’s for a check-up: by measuring the current state of an employee’s performance, HR can prescribe L&D to help the employee improve, elevating the overall capability of the organization’s workforce.
Benefits and Compensation
As part of the employee recruitment and retention process, HR manages each employee’s compensation and benefits, balancing the company’s budget and resources with rewards that attract and encourage employees.
On top of monetary salaries, this also includes other perks such as insurance, retirement savings, vacation, paid time off, and flexible work schedules. There are many software tools HR professionals can use to track benefits – for examples and comparisons of the best one, check out Humanresource.com.
By offering enticing rewards, HR can attract more qualified candidates in the recruitment process and keep current employees happy.
Conflict is inevitable in the workplace, and it’s HR’s job to act as the arbitrator and keep the peace. Interpersonal conflicts can ruin a healthy and productive working environment, embroiling the whole office in animosity.
HR professionals implement policies and procedures to subvert conflict before it comes to a head and deal with conflicts fairly to satisfy all parties.
On top of employee-employee relations, HR also manages company-employee relations: i.e., making sure employees are happy, safe, and healthy at work.
By managing employee relations, HR ensures a productive and focused workplace environment.
In a similar vein, HR disciplines employees who are out of line, discouraging destructive and disruptive behavior, protecting the company’s reputation and maintaining a safe, happy, and productive work environment.
HR develops rules and regulations to cover common disciplinary problems such as tardiness, insubordination, harassment, and misuse of technology.
HR documents these cases and communicates with the employee to discourage these behaviors, providing them with resources and opportunities to improve. Otherwise, the employee may need to be let go.
Health and Safety
HR creates policies and procedures to keep employees safe and healthy both physically and mentally.
Physically, HR ensures the workplace complies with legal safety regulations such as OSHA compliance and Covid-19 policies. But HR can also implement its own policies to protect the workforce, such as decreeing that employees with the flu must stay home for two days to prevent the illness from spreading to the rest of the workforce.
HR also oversees employees’ mental health, the most common case being an intervention to prevent and recover from burnout.
Career and Succession Planning
Also called career pathing, HR guides employees to think about their career trajectory and professional development.
It’s much easier for a company to promote existing employees rather than hire new ones – by tracking employee competencies, creating training programs, and aligning employee ambitions with current company needs, HR can help employees develop themselves and ensure company positions are filled with qualified employees.
Finally, HR ensures employee records with sensitive personal information are neatly and safely stored, so they can be accessed and consulted as needed to manage employees.
Some examples of files HR maintains are resumes, verification documents, performance records, training and development documents, payroll records, and retirement and termination documents.
Human Resources (HR) is a company function that manages one of the company’s most important assets: its employees. With these nine core activities, HR ensures employees are competent, healthy, and growing, allowing the company to focus on the tasks at hand and perform to its fullest capacity.