What is human resources?
Human resources is a department that oversees employee relations within a company. They are involved with every aspect of an employee’s lifecycle with the company, including hiring, onboarding, processing payroll and benefits, reviewing raises and promotion and conducting exit interviews. Human resources professionals also ensure companies follow hiring and labor regulations, promote company policies and serve as mediators between employers and employees.
The importance of having an HR department
Business need an HR department to create a harmonious relationship between your company and employees. HR ensures you follow labor regulations that create satisfactory working conditions for employees. They also serve as mediators by helping you exchange ideas and concerns with your employees.
Having at least one human resources professional in your business can free up a lot of your time. Any time you spend recruiting, hiring, onboarding and processing paperwork can be devoted to further developing your business.
Four key functions of HR
Human resources departments help companies follow protocol and provide support for employees. HR is an integral part of ensuring a business runs smoothly. The four key functions of HR include business development, employee advocacy, change implementation and salary and benefits.
HR is responsible for staffing and onboarding. This includes reviewing the employee handbook, applicable paperwork and any other vital information. HR may also be responsible for training employees, providing ongoing employee development and seting up payroll and benefit plans.
Human resources help develop business plans to meet company objectives. They make sure systems are running smoothly and that employees are following rules and guidelines. If they notice that many employees are not meeting protocol, they may send company-wide communication to reinforce expectations or lead a presentation for the whole company.
Creating employee engagement initiatives is another HR duty. They think of new ways to keep employees satisfied and motivated. This could include team-building activities, such as employee retreats, which they plann and lead.
HR professionals provide support and guidance to employees. Though HR works for the company, they need to promote the employees’ best interests. HR helps create a safe and productive work environment for all employees, which helps companies work in accordance with labor and human rights laws. HR makes sure employees of all levels, including management, are following company policies and acting appropriately.
If an employee ever has a question about policies, benefits or protocols, they should contact HR. Similarly, they can express any concerns or ideas about different policies to a human resources representative.
Related:How to Reduce Employee Turnover
The HR department communicates any organizational or policy changes to employees. A human resources manager reviews how the company functions and finds solutions that will better serve both the business and employees. Changes that HR could make include implementing a new system to request paid time off, an update in employee conduct policies or new health benefits.
Implementing change relates to employee advocacy. If employees request changes to policies, HR discusses it with executives or management. HR professionals often find a compromise that allows the business to prosper and employees to have job satisfaction.
Salary and benefits
The human resources department is responsible for processing payroll and benefits, such as paid time off, retirement plans and health insurance. When filling a role, they perform research to determine fair compensation based on responsibilities, location and what other companies in the area offer. They negotiate salaries and benefits with candidates during the hiring process and also adjust compensation when they receive a raise. An HR representative may also handle vacation and sick leave.
Human resources FAQs
Here are some frequently asked questions about HR professionals:
What skills does a qualified HR professional have?
Along with technical skills, such as processing paperwork and maintaining management systems, HR professionals need several soft skills, such as:
- Employee development
- Employee relations
What are the different roles in HR?
There are many different types of HR professionals, including:
- Human resources generalist:These professionals manage day-to-day activities in a department. They usually have knowledge in most HR functions.
- Compensation and benefits specialist:This specialist focuses on pay and company benefits. They process raises and promotions and also communicate changes to benefits.
- Development specialist: Businesses that want to train employees and help them grow within the company could benefit from a development specialist.
- Employee relations specialist:These specialists work with employees, managers and employers to develop good working relationships.
- Human resources representative:For smaller companies, an HR representative could be a useful hire since they handle most questions about benefits, payroll, onboarding and training.
- Human resources manager:Managers in HR oversee other human resources employees, update policies and create new development plans.
What are some interview questions to ask an HR job candidate?
When interviewing applicants for an HR position, find a candidate who can communicate professionally to both your managers and your other employees. Find someone who is personable and skilled at conflict resolution. Ask HR candidates the following questions to learn more about their skill set and qualifications:
- "What is your ideal workspace and how will you work to create it?"
- "What is your HR management style?"
- "Tell me about a time you had to work with a difficult employee. How did you handle the situation?"
- "How do you make sure you are following ethical standards?"