Students considering a career in human resources should understand what is involved in Functional Human Resource Management. According to an article in Chron.com, human resources is the glue that holds an organization together; functional management areas are the ingredients in the glue. Most sources divide human resource management into five or six areas. Some human resources personnel work under a manager in one specialty, while others are generalists who work in all of the areas, which are described below.

Business Management and Strategy

This is sometimes referred to as “the business of business.” It involves understanding information from inside the organization, and from external sources such as market trends to align the corporation’s human capital with its own needs. People involved in this area develop strategies and actions to best utilize staff and management to meet the corporate response to the information. They analyze data and develop programs that will initiate needed changes, and then evaluate the results.

Workforce Planning and Employment

This area of Functional Human Resource Management deals with staffing. Your Business at Arizona Central includes determining personnel needs as one of the duties of people in this area. Once a need is identified, the manager must not only define the position, but decide where and when to advertise openings. Recruitment involves screening applicants and conducting interviews as well. Sometimes human resource workers will hire directly and other times they simply narrow the applicant field for supervisors. Once staff people are hired, it becomes the responsibility of the human resource department to develop strategies to retain the hiree.

Human Resource Development

This area is important because it benefits both worker and management. Development specialists identify places where skill development is needed. This may be in “soft” areas such as customer service and communications, or in technical skills such as computer or equipment operation. Data indicates that when corporations invest in training staff, the employees are more satisfied, and productivity increases. Development personnel may conduct the trainings themselves or bring in trainers.

Total Rewards or Compensation

This division of Functional Human Resource Management deals with one of the largest expenses of a corporation. It includes direct compensation like wages and bonuses as well as indirect compensation given as benefit packages. Human resource workers in this department work with payroll processing, benefit enrollment and proper handling of insurance claims. Their goal is to meet employee needs at a cost-effective level.

Employee/Labor Relations

Workers in this arena must understand collective bargaining and compliance guidelines. Their goal is to balance corporate and employee needs. This includes morale management such as developing incentive and recognition programs. It also involves the implementation of performance appraisal procedures and routine evaluations.

Risk Management

This area involves working within OSHA guidelines to provide a safe and ergonomic work environment. Professionals in this arena develop safety policies and conduct safety audits of the corporation to assure they are in compliance with state and federal mandates. They also provide safety trainings and assist in accident reporting procedures.

As businesses expand, even go global, there will be increasing demand for professionals working with divergent standards and laws to manage the “human capital” of the corporations. An understanding of Functional Human Resource Management will allow students to select and hone career paths.

Additional Resource: 10 Great TED Lectures on Work and Success