HR Management

So, what does HR really do? Part 1

You’d be surprised by how many people we come across who don’t really have a full understanding of everything we do, or can do, as HR professionals. HR is often considered as a one-dimensional caricature, either Toby Flenderson from The Office, a party planner with not much else to do, or some corporate spy whose sole job is to snitch on employees who use too much paper at the copy machine. While it’s disheartening to us at HR Affiliates, we understand why many people have come to feel this way. In our experience, we’ve learned most of the time it’s because they haven’t been exposed to really awesome HR professionals.

So, what does HR really do? Most individuals will answer based on their previous experience with HR, whether that’s been good, bad, or indifferent. The truth is that HR is there to support the employees and help keep operations running. It is, in fact, the resource for all the humans.

First, there’s the tactical function of HR that’s a big part of keeping a business running:

1. Hire the Humans

Sure, anyone can post a job on Indeed or hang a sign on the front door to get candidates. However, the HR professional also understands the market, consults the needs of the hiring manager, handles the job analysis and compensation studies, and manages recruiting budgets. HR also oversees the full recruiting process by making sure the right questions are asked and the candidates are properly vetted. Most important, HR manages the brand of the company through recruiting to make sure the right candidates are attracted and enticed to the position. Recruiting is huge undertaking, and an expensive one. Getting the right person in the door can change your organization in amazing ways; getting the wrong person can turn your organization inside out.

2. Get to Know the Humans

HR is responsible for managing a successful onboarding program. It’s much more than just filling out some paperwork. A good HR onboarding function will make sure that everything from the employee’s first day is navigated successfully and aligned with company culture.

3. Pay the Humans

From pay rates to pay changes, from reimbursements to bonuses, and from paid time off to overtime, Payroll can be a full-time job for some organizations. It can also be a great tool if you have a good Human Resource Information System (HRIS) in place. Good HR knows that implementing this efficiency is key for managers to remain competitive and for employees to feel they are receiving the compensation in line with their experience.

4. Benefit the Humans

HR is responsible for all employee benefit programs. This could be limited to standard medical plans. A great HR program could also determine through surveys what the employees really want and spread the benefit budget into other appealing benefit programs, such as gym memberships or pet insurance. Staying competitive when it comes to benefits is critical when trying to attract and retain the best talent. Not only do the right benefits have to be selected, but they also must be administered properly, so that there are no ugly surprises awaiting an employee who didn’t get properly covered.

5. Help the Humans

One of the most important HR roles is helping employees with work-related issues. If employees need to report critical situations like harassment, or just simply ask questions about their employment, they need to feel confident that HR is approachable and available to help. Unfortunately, this is another area in which too many in the field have fallen short and led employees to distrust their HR department. There are cringe-worthy articles and blogs discussing how employees feel they cannot trust HR. It’s extremely important for the HR department to instill trust and confidence in employees so that they understand it is a valuable resource for them.

4. Coach the Humans

Coaching has unfortunately become synonymous with “discipline,” mainly because ill-equipped professionals might only reach out to coach when it is negative. When handled appropriately, coaching can give a struggling employee the opportunity to thrive. When handled inappropriately, it can lead to the loss of a valuable employee and poor morale. It’s important to make sure HR keeps the big picture and company vision in mind when addressing all employee issues. This includes both the positive and negative; it’s important to develop and cultivate employees.

5. Provide Direction to the Humans

Another reason HR gets a bad rep is people complain there are too many policies – too many rules and too much restriction. Unfortunately, good organizations can’t be great without some sort of structure and it’s HR’s job to develop policies and suggest changes to policies when they no longer serve the organization or the employees.

6. Help (Career) Grow the Humans

We all know it’s better to invest in and keep an employee than find a new one. HR can provide career paths to help managers guide their teams to long futures with the organization.

7. Record the Humans (Paperwork, that is)

This is the boring part of HR, but absolutely necessary as it’s mandated by law. Not only are there the legal records that must be kept regarding pay and wages, but also training and performance records that help employers identify skill gaps to help with the hiring process and employee development.

There are many amazing HR professionals amongst us, and we say follow the culture. You’ll find the great organizations that are ran well and have great cultures, likely have great HR people!

Now that we’ve uncovered the tactical components of HR, stay tuned for Part 2 where we share the strategic side of HR.


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