Human Resource Management – Everything You Need to Know

Jessamy Amic

Posted: February 5, 2021

Table of Contents

Human Resource Management (also referred to as HRM) is the operation of all things related to the management of the employees of a company. This includes recruiting for a company, selecting and introducing employees, providing training, development, evaluating the performance of employees, agreeing on and arranging compensation, offering what benefits are reasonable, motivating for employees, ensuring that the relationship between employees and trade unions are healthy and ensuring that all things related to the employees within the company are within legal compliance.

What is HRM?

Human Resource Management also involves the management of the human resources related to internal and important interdepartmental functions such as:

  • The procurement, development, and wellbeing of all human resources within the company.
  • Helping to achieve and encourage reaching individual and social objectives within the company to achieve organisational goals.
  • Establishing and maintaining strong team spirit, teamwork and a healthy company culture.
  • The ongoing process of ensuring individuals are healthy and thriving in the company.
  • Communicating concerns tactfully and professionally about or for employees.
  • Acting as a bridge between employees and management should there be an issue that might need a resolution. 

One full-time professional Human Resource Manager or staff member is required once a company’s staff force hits a certain number (which varies from country to country). In South Africa, one full-time HR manager is needed for 50 employees in a company.

The purpose of Human Resource Management 

The main purpose of the HRM is to make sure the employees in the company are able to do their tasks in the most healthy, efficient manner possible. This means ensuring that the culture is fruitful for effective work. It also means making sure that the right person is in the right position to perform ideal work and gain a sense of belonging with the company. This takes “function” and “fit” into consideration when recruiting. Making sure the team works well together isn’t only about the work. The HR manager should work hand-in-hand with department management to make sure all human resource-related systems are running as smoothly as possible.

The ten “Cs” of Human Resource Management

Putting the main purposes and functions of Human Resource Management into the “10 Cs of HRM” would leave us with:

  • Cost effectiveness, 
  • Competitive, 
  • Coherence, 
  • Credibility, 
  • Communication, 
  • Creativity, 
  • Competitive advantage, 
  • Competence, 
  • Change, and 
  • Commitment. 

These, developed by HR management expert Alan Price, all work together to form a strong framework for human resource management.

What does a Human Resource manager do?

While the idea of an HR manager might be the person who has to deal with the uncomfortable aspects of looking after people in a company (such as HR violations and disciplinary warnings), the main purpose of the HRM is to support employees. 

The main tasks and duties an HRM will undertake include:

1. Recruiting candidates

Recruitment lies in the hands of the human resource department, but ideally the process should go with the manager of the hiring department. This process includes understanding the needs of the organisation, the position that needs to be filled, analysing the market, conducting consultations with relevant stakeholders, considering budget and advertising in the right space to the right audience.

Once the position has been advertised, more research needs to be undertaken regarding the prospective candidates. Ensuring that the right candidates go through the next round is crucial. This means considering the requirements and previous work experience and going through the references to see whether the candidate might be the right fit.

2. Hire the right employees

Once the recruitment process begins, the follow-up hiring process follows. This means arranging interviews, coordinating with management and stakeholders, negotiating budget and finally onboarding and training new employees. The hiring process includes all paperwork necessary for the legal contract involved in hiring a new employee to protect both the company and the employee in the future.

3. Processing the payroll

Payroll and expenses are a world of their own. Working hand-in-hand with the finance manager, the human manager undertakes the payroll process. This includes calculating taxes, overtime, hours, employee expenses that might need reimbursing and raises or bonuses should they be necessary to process. 

4. Conduct any disciplinary actions

This is where the uncomfortable nature of Human Resource Management comes into play. If there is a necessary disciplinary action that needs to take place, it needs to be navigated appropriately to avoid the potential loss of valuable employees or undue legal action against the company. If handled well, disciplinary action can lead to an overall healthier and stronger task force and possibly improved well-being of the individuals in a team. 

5. Updating necessary policies

Regulations and policies need to be evaluated consistently, especially as the organisation grows or changes. Maintaining and updating the policies to ensure they are relevant to the company are within legal requirements is crucial to avoid ramifications unnecessarily. Some policies might need updating as a reaction to an event or occurrence and  the HR manager should ensure this happens.

6. Maintaining effective employee records

Keeping accurate up-to-date records for HR is not only important, but it’s legally required. These records help employers and recruiters consider and identify any gaps in skills or experience to make the hiring process run smoothly. Updated and accurate records also help analyse any data to comply with regulations related to demographics or similar. Moreover, if there is an emergency, having the accurate information for employees is critical.

7. Analysing and offering attractive benefits

A company that is recruiting needs to ensure they are offering competitive benefits to attract the best candidates. Accepting less pay for better benefits might be what it takes to encourage a candidate to work for a company instead of another. HRM should conduct investigation often to explore what possible benefits they can add aligned with the company’s vision. From there, they should explore what the options might cost the potential employee in terms of pay and resource accordingly.

What  does Human Resource do to support employees?

Human Resource exists to offer support to the employees of a company. Protecting their well-being is a crucial component in the career. The following are four ways HR can help support the needs of the company’s employees:

  1. Encouraging career growth

If an employee sees an opportunity to grow in a company, they’re more likely going to stay and develop their career path at the company. Keeping an employee in a company and allowing them to grow with the company is not only better for business and avoids unnecessary expensive training of new staff, but it also promotes good work ethics in the company. If a person sees the possibility of a promotion, they’re encouraged to work harder and invest time and energy to see growth in the company. Human Resource is there to help support employees realise the potential and guide their long-term future in the company.

2. Encouraging continuous training

Career growth and upskilling requires additional training sometimes. If there’s the potential to up skill by receiving additional education or taking online short courses, it might be worthwhile seeing if the organisation can foot the bill. Here’s where HR can step in to help pitch to the shareholders or management that additional training is ultimately beneficial to both the employees and the company. 

Human Resource can help management learn as well as helping develop employees. With training and support, HR can help provide the right resources and guidance to upskill management in their processes and protocols. This helps ensure that teams and departments are running as smoothly and as healthily as possible. This could involve formal training and management retreats, active resources and weekly sessions.

4. Promoting and supporting all-round wellbeing

Employees face different situations both inside and outside the office. It’s important to recognise the need for not only professional wellbeing, but all round health of an employee. The HR should identify ways to support employees through circumstances which might need assistance. This could be health issues, pregnancies, adoption, familial crises or a number of other life events which might need encouragement.

The functions of Human Resource Management

The main functions of an HR manager include:

  1. Talent hiring and recruitment
  2. Onboarding and hiring processes
  3. Training and development management
  4. Performance appraisal and evaluation
  5. Workforce engagement and employee interaction
  6. Payroll and compliance management
  7. Regulation management

Other managerial functions of the HRM include:

  • Planning
  • Organising
  • Directing
  • Controlling

The types of Human Resource Development 

HRM Development is a framework designed to help employees enjoy the development of the skills and abilities which leads to the efficiency and effectiveness of a company’s output.

Human resource development, or HRD, includes a variety of different functions and activities, such as:

  • Performance management, evaluation of employees work, and development and training to increase skills from the review.
  • Employee coaching and training.
  • Mentoring and frequent check-ins.
  • Succession and progressive planning.
  • Tuition assistance and learning further.

Organisations have the opportunity for human resource development, both internally and externally. HRD can also be considered a formal or an informal process and it initiates as soon as any new employees are onboarded. For example, 

Informal learning approaches to Human Resource Development include:

  • Coaching for and by the management team.
  • Informal mentorship from more experienced employees to junior staff.
  • Collaboration of the HR team with more highly experienced and trained colleagues.

Formal learning approaches to Human Resource Development include:

  • Formal traditional online or in-classroom training.
  • College courses and online degrees.
  • Planned and meditative organisational change and practices.
  • Internal training courtesy of staff members or provided by paid consultants or facilitators.

Think about it like this: If an employee is hired and receives formal training from the staff as part of the introduction process, they grow in their skillset which is then implemented in the work provided to the company. From there, the company maintains training and more opportunities for formal education in the field arise. The company pays for further training and the employee not only learns more to practically implement in the company, but they can also teach new or younger staff members the knowledge and training gained from the formal education. The more they learn, the more opportunities they discover to learn more and the advanced knowledge dives deeper into the company.

This is an accurate description of how more and uniquely tailored learning can positively impact an individual and the company. It’s also a fantastic demonstration in how the Human Resource team can be effective in making that upskilling happen.

What is the main purpose of Human Resource Development?

The key reason behind putting an HRD framework in place is to ultimately improve all knowledge and skills of the employees in a company. This step begins in the hiring of new employees and continues as the employee remains learning within the company. 

The key takeaway from an HRD is that an employee usually enters an organisation with only basic levels of skills – especially when at a junior level – and the training to perform their tasks effectively rely on training and development. When a new employee enters a company at a mid or senior level, the training and knowledge gaining is still essential to progress in the company as well as to align with the company culture and industry gain. 

Therefore, the main purpose of HRD is to train employees further and ensure that their effectiveness in the company is continually growing. It can be seen as similar to coaching as a sport’s team would be. The more information and training gained by each team member, the better the team will perform overall. If the whole team is receiving the ideal training for their positions, the more smoothly systems will be able to run and the more success the company will be able to see.

At the end of the day, the Human Resources Development framework has one goal: To employee and develop better, stronger employees.

Strategic Human Resources Management

Strategic Human Resource Management refers to the manner in which the Human Resources team coordinates with the consistent and overall business goals with the end intention of improving business opportunities. This means a focused effort on making distinction between the company and the competition.

The strategic Human Resource Management highlights how important it is for the individuals within the company to excel for the company itself to excel. Businesses which tend to place an emphasis on the strategic Human Resource Management tend to see more alignment across the company from the HR team to the employees and across management and shareholders.

The main struggle with strategic Human Resource Management is that it is simple in theory but often difficult to execute practically. With budget, resources and other roadblocks that tend to get in the way, creating and sticking to strategic HRM can be difficult to maintain. However, it’s important to consider the overall aim and potential of HRM and how the development can lead to overall improvement in the organisation.

Types of Human Resource Management

The most common types of Human Resource Management positions are:

  1. Human Resources assistant

The assistant to the Human Resources director is crucial in helping streamline processes, making sure things run smoothly and ensuring things don’t slip through the cracks. The main duties of an HR assistance includes administrative tasks, aiding in filling out documentation related to absentees, terminations, evaluation and performance reviews, grievances and all relevant information pertinent to the employee and work force. The HR assistant might also aid in the recruitment and hiring process with tasks such as writing descriptions for jobs, coordinating with references and liaising with possible candidates.

  1. Human resources coordinator

The Human Resource coordinator is important to help facilitate HR programs and functions. Similar to the HR assistant, the coordinator works with and under the direction of the HR director. The tasks the HR coordinator is involved with include ensuring all schedules and training plans are coordinated and that development programmes for the employees are set up. Coordinators in the HR department also help in researching trends and practices in the industry to make sure that all policies, protocols and processes are up to date from both a legal and an efficiency standpoint.

  1. Human resources specialist

Similar to the job or employment specialist, the HR specialist is involved in the recruitment and hiring process. However, the difference between the two is that the HR specialist is usually employed in-house for a private company or agency whereas the employment specialist is usually an outsourced resource. The specialist is involved in the process of screening, interviewing and placing new employees into the opportunity which will work best for them and the company.

  1. Employment specialist

Employment specialists or job placement specialists generally dedicate their time to the hiring process in a Human Resource department. As specialists in this process, they have thorough knowledge about aspects such as job descriptions, hiring requirements, salaries, competitive benefits and overall matching people to the position. Recruitment is the forte of an employment specialist and they often venture to job fairs and professional organisations to find the perfect candidate for a company. 

  1. Full-time recruiter

Dedicated recruiters in the HR field tend to work either in-house for corporations where there is often a need to hire new employees or for recruitment agencies who work on behalf of the hiring company. As a recruiter, the role is specialised in sourcing the very best candidate to fit the role, the company culture and the industry as a whole. A recruiter often spends most of their time posting the relevant job descriptions, reviewing candidates, verifying whether the candidate is a fit and contacting possible hires to meet management or the HR team for interviews. The recruiter is also often involved in salary and benefit negotiations.

  1. Recruitment manager

Similar to the full-time recruiter, the recruitment manager is involved mainly in the recruitment and hiring process for a company. This involved more extensive work in sourcing, interviewing and initial training of a candidate. The recruitment manager can also research and implement software or data metric to make the process of hiring the right candidate as smooth and simple as possible. Having a clear understanding of regulations and legal issues involved in hiring is another necessity for a recruitment manager.

  1. Human resources generalist

The Human Resource generalist is like the jack-of-all-HR. The generalist is involved in administrative tasks that ensure the HR department continues to operate like a well-oiled machine. Their tasks include managing daily operations, overseeing departmental policies, considering all programmes and protocols in place and designing opportunities to train employees. They are also involved in making sure the company is compliant with regulations and organisational development to ensure the safety and welfare of employees.

  1. Employee relations manager

The employee relations manager is important in the company to ensure that the workplace has a harmonious and consistent positive culture. The employee manager is tasked with addressing negative behaviour that might need intervention – handled in a legal and compliant manner – as well as increasing a positive atmosphere in the company.  The employee manager should boast excellent communication skills in order to deal with any negative situations that might arise with the utmost tact.

  1. Director of employee relations

The directors of employee relations management is also referred to as the director of employee experience. Someone in this position is highly skilled in building business strategies centred on employee wellbeing and problem solving any HR dilemmas that might arise. These directors work hand-in-hand with executives to build programmes and exercises to harness the best culture for the team and improve and enhance employee satisfaction.

  1. Labour relations specialist

The labour relations specialists are the legal gurus of the HR department. This role involved dealing with labour laws and liaising with trade unions. They are experienced in dealing with economics, wage analyses, and bargaining data and collate information across legal issues relevant to the company. With information at hand, the labour relations specialist also advises other HR staff and management on best practice and programmes for the company. 

  1. Human Resources manager

The HR manager is the person who heads up the entire HR department. This position is most prevalent in larger companies where a team of HR personnel is needed. The HR manager is tasked with ensuring that the team members in the Human Resource department are working efficiently and have all the resources they need to carry out their own tasks. The HR manager liaises with other management across departments and often handles more sensitive issues and exit interviews. 

12. Director of Human Resources

The HR director is highly experienced in managing HR departments and working with Human Resources. The main objective of an HR director is to supervise the company’s HR department from top to bottom including all budgeting resources and personnel assets. With years of experience, the HR director reports to the CEO and works with other directors in the company. Another key goal of the HR director is to ensure that the company is building its employees to tap into peak profitability through important training and employee development.

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