Human Resources or HR as it's commonly referred to as, is responsible for a lot within an organization and can vary depending on the size or structure of an organization. For our purposes we are going to stick with HR Certification Institute's five functional areas; Business Management, Talent Planning and Acquisition, Learning and Development, Total Rewards, and Employee and Labor Relations.
#1 - Business Management
For Business Management think of HR as being the "keepers" of processes and procedures. It's great when Owners and other executives have these great ideas but who will be there to ensure it's implemented and executed the way they envisioned? HR is quickly becoming a strategic resource for top level executives and board members, it's HR's job to have a pulse on all things the organization is involved in and apart of the growth strategy to ensure transitions happen smoothly and efficiency and of course that the organization's mission, vision, and values stay intact.
#2 - Talent Planning and Acquisition
Well as the function area suggests this is all about finding and acquiring you, the talent! What makes businesses run? People!
Not only is it important to find the right people for the job, but it's important to take care of those people and retain them for the long haul so they can help drive business initiatives. While there are some people that consider recruitment as a "just" job, like "oh your just a recruiter", it's actually very important to have competent and attentive recruiters that know the direction of the organization and can attract top talent into the organization.
They are also the gate-keepers of some initial risk concerns when it comes to how talent is sourced, making sure there's nothing discriminatory about the recruitment process, coaching managers on interview questions (what to ask and what NOT to ask), and other regulatory reporting depending on the structure of the HR team.
#3 - Learning and Development
For this functional area think training. While some organizations may have the resources to have a full training department that is responsible for all the education within an organization whether it's job training, manager training, systems/software training, etc. Other organizations may just assign a more senior employee training responsibilities to help show new hires within the department the ropes and sometimes even managers are responsible for training and enforcement of training.
This area is a great way as an employee to find resources that may even be company paid for your own professional development. Despite some employees fear of learning because it may make your manager or someone else feel you will up and leave the bright side is many people aren't stuck in that old-school mentality. The majority of the stronger employers will see it as you being proactive and wanting to better yourself and add skills that are also beneficial to the organization during your employment tenure with them. And can even justify promotions into more senior or leadership roles as you continue to learn and grow.
#4 - Total Rewards
Think about this area as being all the "perks" you can receive through your employment. While we come to expect things like a wellness program, medical/dental/vision insurance, retirement planning options, tuition reimbursement, a competitive salary, etc. All of these things take planning and strategies to implement and maintain. So while it's a no-brainer for a competitive organization to have all these things, make no mistake it's a process in and of its self to get these things for an organization and costly to keep them up to date and relevant in the changing environments.
#5 - Employee and Labor Relations
This is usually the area that most people know about HR, and depending on the situation you've encountered you may think that this is all HR is responsible for. One of the reasons why I got into HR was because of the horror stories I would hear about employees feeling like HR wasn't compassionate or didn't care about them as an individual. While I think everyone should understand that at the end of the day a business is about business and not personal issues.....not to minimize feelings and attitudes within the work place. Ultimately, HR is in the business of PEOPLE and with that said us HR Professionals see the good, bad, and ugly in people.
This area provides support to employees, managers, and serves as a consultant to higher level executives. Everyone has to be held accountable so whether it's conducting an investigation on a complaint, or explaining a policy in the company handbook this area is all about helping to manage the people in the organization and mitigate risks to the organization to protect the organization that pays the bills.
You can also learn more about HR by visiting the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) site!