HR Management Career Guide

What is Human Resources?

Wikipedia defines Human Resource Management as the strategic approach to the effective management of people in a company or organization such that they help their business gain a competitive advantage. It is designed to maximize employee performance in service of an employer’s strategic objectives.

The overall purpose of human resources (HR) is to ensure that the organization is able to achieve success through people. HR professionals manage the human capital of an organization and focus on implementing policies and processes.

Human Resource Management (HRM) is an important component of almost all organizations. Not only do HR professionals stay up-to-date with ever changing employment laws and insurance policies, they also act as liaison between managers and employees, and as advocates for employees. If you are thinking about a HRM career, it is helpful to understand many aspects of the job. Analyze what HR management is and look for field-related careers, skills and trends.

History of Human Resource Management (HRM)

The term “Human Resource Management” has been referred to as a more recent term. In its earliest stage, HRM started out as a form of welfare in organizations. Basically attending to the needs of employees; attempting to alleviate the harsh working conditions which majority of employees were exposed to, protesting the perceived injustice suffered in the hands of employers.

Over time, it gradually moved from mere “welfare” and began to concern itself with day-to-day management of employees to ensure organizational objectives are achieved. At this stage, it was referred to as Personnel Management.  Not until very recent times did we start referring to it as Human Resource Management. This term now refers to all the activities ranging from recruitment and selection, Compensation and Benefits, Employee Relations, Training and development and even more importantly, Strategic Planning.

Functions of Human Resource Management

Human Resource Management functions can be classified in following three categories.

  • Managerial Functions
  • Operative Functions
  • Advisory Functions

The Managerial Functions of Human Resource Management are as follows:

1. Human Resource Planning – In this function of HRM, the number and type of employees needed to accomplish organizational goals is determined. Research is an important part of this function, information is collected and analyzed to identify current and future human resource needs and to forecast changing values, attitude, and behaviour of employees and their impact on organization.

2. Organizing – In an organization tasks are allocated among its members, relationships are identified, and activities are integrated towards a common objective. Relationships are established among the employees so that they can collectively contribute to the attainment of organization goal.

3. Directing – Activating employees at different level and making them contribute maximum to the organization is possible through proper direction and motivation. Taping the maximum potentialities of the employees is possible through motivation and command.

4.  Controlling – After planning, organizing, and directing, the actual performance of employees is checked, verified, and compared with the plans. If the actual performance is found deviated from the plan, control measures are required to be taken. 

The Operative Functions of Human Resource Management are as follows:

1. Recruitment and Selection – Recruitment of candidates is the function preceding the selection, which brings the pool of prospective candidates for the organization so that the management can select the right candidate from this pool.

2. Job Analysis and Design – Job analysis is the process of describing the nature of a job and specifying the human requirements like qualification, skills, and work experience to perform that job. Job design aims at outlining and organizing tasks, duties, and responsibilities into a single unit of work for the achievement of certain objectives.

3. Performance Appraisal – Human resource professionals are required to perform this function to ensure that the performance of employee is at acceptable level.

4. Training and Development – This function of human resource management helps the employees to acquire skills and knowledge to perform their jobs effectively. Training and development programs are organized for both new and existing employees. Employees are prepared for higher level responsibilities through training and development.

5. Wage and Salary Administration – Human resource management determines what is to be paid for different type of jobs. Human resource management decides employees’ compensation which includes – wage administration, salary administration, incentives, bonuses, fringe benefits, and etc.

6. Employee Welfare – This function refers to various services, benefits, and facilities that are provided to employees for their wellbeing.

7. Maintenance – Human resource is considered as asset for the organization. Employee turnover is not considered good for the organization. Human resource management always try to keep their best performing employees with the organization.

8. Labour Relations – This function refers to the interaction of human resource management with employees who are represented by a trade union. Employees  comes together and forms an union to obtain more voice in decisions affecting wage, benefits, working condition, etc.

9. Personnel Research – Personnel researches are done by human resource management to gather employees’ opinions on wages and salaries, promotions, working conditions, welfare activities, leadership, etc. Such researches helps in understanding employees satisfaction, employees turnover, employee termination, etc.

10. Personnel Record – This function involves recording, maintaining, and retrieving employee related information like – application forms, employment history, working hours, earnings, employee absents and presents, employee turnover and other other data related to employees.

The Advisory Functions of Human Resource Management are as follows:

Human Resource Management is expert in managing human resources and so can give advice on matters related to human resources of the organization. Human Resource Management can offer advice to:

1. Advise to Top Management
Personnel manager advises the top management in formulation and evaluation of personnel programs, policies, and procedures.

2. Advise  to Departmental Heads
Personnel manager advises the heads of various departments on matters such as manpower planning, job analysis, job design, recruitment, selection, placement, training, performance appraisal, etc.

Careers in Human Resource Management

The following are some HR job titles;

  • Recruiter
  • Training and Development Coordinator
  • Payroll Specialist
  • HR Generalist
  • Human Resources Manager
  • Employee Relations Manager
  • Compensation or Benefit Analyst/Manager
  • HR Information Systems Manager
  • Training and Development Manager
  • Labor Relations Manager

Key responsibilities and tasks in Human Resources

The following are some of the most common tasks for HR departments:

  • Address concerns expressed by the employees
  • Hire top talent & oversee the departure of current jobholders
  • Create career development programmes
  • Evaluate individual and overall work performance
  • Implement reward systems
  • Solve conflicts and other issues (e.g. sexual harassment, bullying)
  • Provide guidance and help employees identify their strengths and weaknesses
  • Design and evaluate strategies to increase the retention of personnel
  • Create a positive and enjoyable work environment
  • Build and maintain the company’s culture
  • Create and implement programmes that reflect the core values of the organisation

Current developments in HRM

HR is evolving, with the focus changing from the administrative tasks to the strategic input and having a seat at the management table. This is facilitated by the evolving needs of current organisations and by technology, which enables more efficient processing or approval of transactions, budgets, and other financial activities.

HR specialists need to understand business strategy. They need to understand what drives business success and how to engage employees and help them develop and adapt in a constantly changing work environment.

To adapt to the changing business environment, here are some of the most relevant skills that HR specialists can develop: communication, planning & organisation, problem-solving, collaboration, etc.

Some reasons why you should pursue a career in HRM

1.      You’ll be in a position of influence

HR professionals have a unique perspective into the businesses they work for due to the nature of their job. Not only do they have a strong understanding of an organization’s priorities and challenges, but they also have the ability to influence the future of the company based on the employment decisions they make.

Author and HR expert Sharon Armstrong says she loved being able to make a difference for employees in the workplace.

“Good HR professionals have their finger on the pulse of what is going on in their companies, and they continue to try to do what they can to make or keep it an employer of choice,” Armstrong says.

2.      You can help develop the people around you

The work you do in HR goes a long way in the professional development of other employees. With tools like performance reviews and exit interviews, human resources professionals can collect valuable information that guides performance improvement plans. This ultimately provides you the rewarding opportunity to not just improve the organization as a whole, but also the individual employees you work alongside.

3.       The industry is experiencing steady growth

The BLS projects HR specialist jobs to increase at a rate of five percent through 2022, which is on pace with the national average for all occupations. This career field, barring the unexpected, appears to be anchored on steady ground for years to come. Companies will continue needing recruiters, benefits specialists and other HR personnel as they grow. HR plays a fundamental role in a business’s operations, which isn’t likely to change.

4.      You’ll feel gratification from solving problems

Do you ever feel like you see trouble coming before everyone else does? In this position, spotting and addressing a problem area is going to pay off. HR pros are on the frontlines of employee problem-solving. Because of this, they have the opportunity to smooth out organizational kinks before they become company-wide knots.

“It’s really gratifying to see employees go from being frustrated because they’re having a problem with their manager to feeling productive and appreciated,” Speigel says.

5.       Each workday will be different

You have to stay on your toes when you work in HR. One day you may be helping an employee navigate changes to their health insurance while the next you could be dealing with the effects of new laws or regulations.

“I loved the variety and the challenge,” Armstrong says, citing new employee challenges that come up regularly as well as updated federal and state statutes as big sources of variety and excitement on the job. Challenges like these can keep the work engaging, no matter how long you’re in the game.

6.      You’ll get to work with people

The term “human resources” suggests you’ll be working with other humans. Needless to say, you shouldn’t pursue a career in HR without having a passion for working with others. The day-to-day duties of HR professionals constantly revolve around interacting with people, whether it’s conducting job interviews or assisting current employees with complaints or questions. If you thrive when working with others, you’ll have plenty of reason to enjoy the job.

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