What is the Function of Human Resource Management?

Find Your Degree!

Students considering a career in human resources should understand the function of 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. The primary human resource function is to manage an organization’s employees to maximize productivity toward achieving company goals. An HR department achieves this goal by providing support in several areas.  These human resource functional areas include:

  • Business Management and Strategy
  • Workforce Planning and Employment
  • Hiring New Talent
  • Employee Training and Development
  • Total Rewards or Compensation
  • Employee/Labor Relations
  • Succession Planning
  • Risk Management
  • Employee Engagement and Communication
  • Employee Performance Management

Some HR professionals work under a manager in one of these specialty areas, 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 HR strategies and actions to best utilize staff and management to meet the corporate response to the information. They analyze data and develop personnel programs that will initiate needed changes, and then evaluate the results.

Workforce Planning and Employment

This function of human resources management deals with staffing. Your Business at Arizona Central includes determining personnel needs as one of the duties of people in this area. It’s the role of HR to ensure organizations have the right people, with the right skills, in the right positions.  Here are some of the key steps in workforce planning:

  • identify workforce needs
  • analyze the current workforce
  • develop workforce strategies to address any risks or gaps
  • implement strategies
  • monitor and evaluate

Hiring New Talent

HR typically facilitates the hiring process, including administrative responsibilities.  Once a staffing need is identified, the HR manager must conduct a job analysis.  This makes it easier to hire the right people with the right skill set.  They then decide where and when to advertise openings.   Human resource personnel will screen applicants and conduct interviews. Sometimes HR managers 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 hire.

Employee Training and Development

Employee training and development is one of the key functions of HR. is important because it benefits both workers and management. Development specialists identify places where employee 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 employee training, the employees are more satisfied, and productivity increases. Human resources personnel may conduct the trainings themselves or bring in trainers.

Total Rewards or Compensation

This human resource management function 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 employee benefits. Human resource workers in this department work with:

  • payroll processing
  • benefits enrollment
  • 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.

Succession Planning

Another function of the human resources department is succession planning.  This proactive approach helps ensure the organization has the talent to take on leadership roles in the future when openings become available.  This starts by identifying key roles that are essential to an organization’s success.  Once the roles have been identified, an HR professional works with managers and supervisors to identify the skills and experience those roles require.  They work together to determine if there are existing employees who have the potential to develop those skills to take on future roles.

Succession planning also involves creating training and development programs to help employees gain the skills that an organization sees as valuable for their long-term success.  It’s an essential human resource planning process that helps keep a pipeline of talent available for leadership roles.

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 comply with state and federal mandates. They also provide safety training and assist in accident reporting procedures.

The HR team is also responsible for creating a safe work environment by following health and safety regulations.  Companies that build these regulations into their company culture tend to have fewer accidents and injuries.

Employee Engagement and Communication

Employee engagement refers to the level of commitment and involvement employees have at work.  It’s no secret that high engagement levels promote productivity and employee satisfaction.  HR departments can influence employee engagement by:

  • encouraging communication and maintaining an open-door policy
  • offering competitive wages and benefits
  • providing employees with professional development opportunities
  • promoting a positive work culture

These activities can increase engagement, resulting in more a productive workforce.

Employee Performance Management

One of the most important HR functions is performance management.  Performance management refers to the process of:

  • establishing expectations
  • providing feedback
  • evaluating employee performance against the expectations

HR plays several key roles in the process including:

  • designing the performance management system
  • training managers and employees on the performance management process
  • ensuring the process is fair and objective
  • analyzing performance data to identify areas that need improvement
  • providing feedback to managers and employees to help them improve performance

A well-developed performance management system can improve employee retention and engagement.  

As businesses expand, and 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 the functional areas of human resources will allow students to select and hone career paths.

Related Resources: