Of all facets of modern business, the role of Human Resources (HR) is one of the fastest-growing yet also one of the least understood.
Most employees are aware their company has an HR department – though very few know exactly what they do. In many cases, the only direct interaction staff have with HR is either at the start or end of their careers, which can often lead to a great misunderstanding exactly what role HR plays in business.
A link between management and staff
At its core, Human Resources links management and staff together, resolving disputes and harmonizing the workplace. The HR department in a company is responsible for managing the entire employee lifecycle – from hiring to firing and pretty much everything in between.
However, the modern HR specialist has many more additional responsibilities, which are often less obvious and a little harder to discern.
The role of HR in recruitment
Most bosses can identify when they need to recruit new staff but, while it’s one thing to realize you need extra employees, it’s quite another to know how to find them and attract them to come and work in your company.
Modern HR specialists will have already researched the best places to advertise for the staff you need. More than that, though, they will have also consulted with company bosses and accountants to ascertain the available budgets to bring in extra staff. In fact, if an HR department is doing its job well, it will have realized the need for a new employee long before anyone else.
Interviewing and hiring employees
As well as organizing your recruitment advertising, the HR department will also arrange and structure interviews to eventually select the right candidate for the job. HR will also typically look after all the paperwork involved in hiring new staff – including drafting new contracts and onboarding staff.
Salaries and payroll
Although some companies use an accountant to look after wages and salaries, these days, it’s far more common for HR departments to look after payroll – including maintaining compliance with the relevant tax and employment laws. This also means looking after individual employee data, including bank account and social security details.
HR departments typically handle in-house disciplinary actions and disputes against employees. This is probably the reason HR is often viewed in a bad light as it’s often the only interaction employees have with HR departments.
However, if handled correctly, disciplinary action can prove to be of positive benefit to both the employee and the company and can help address any underlying grievances your staff might have.
Maintaining profiles and records
Maintaining employee records is an integral part of the HR role and is a legal requirement to adequately protect staff interests. As well as holding basic details (such as personal data and emergency contacts), staff records are useful for logging where training, support, or other mentoring might be appropriate.
Staff development and training
HR is also responsible for organizing in-house training or development, which might be required by your employees to perform better in their roles. A good HR manager will have a handle on the relative skills of every member of your workforce and be able to identify areas of weakness or strength. A well-run HR department should provide career growth opportunities to employees, helping them work their up your corporate ladder.
Liaison services and support
HR departments provide an effective liaison service between managers and their employees. They are usually the first port of call when a member of staff has a grievance – but can also provide emotional support in times of personal difficulty, e.g., health issues, mental health problems, family affairs, et cetera.
How to know when you need HR
Many key identifiers will let you recognize when you need to scale up your HR operations – or bring in HR help if you don’t already have internal support mechanisms in place.
Rapid company expansion
If your company is expanding rapidly and you’re finding you are employing more staff or perhaps opening in new locations, you should consider hiring HR help. HR practitioners are precisely skilled to help with company expansion while still developing existing staff to perform at their best. Working with an HR Company is an essential investment for most expanding companies.
It’s also worth noting you can take your first tentative steps into HR using specialist software, which will help you get started along the process. A great many aspects of Human Resources can be automated these days, and even HR professionals rely on software to help them perform their roles better.
Increased internal disputes or losing time on employee problems
If you’re finding your company is suffering more complaints or internal disputes among staff, it’s a sure sign you should look at bringing in HR. If you don’t seek the advice of professionals, you’ll not only waste your own time trying to settle problems – you may also leave yourself open to being sued or other legal actions.
Trouble keeping on top of employees’ legal requirements
Employment law is a continually evolving beast, and to stay on top of it takes time and dedication. HR practitioners can look after your legal requirements as an employer, and keep up to date with changes in the law, protecting you from potential compliance issues or actions.