Human resource management

69Human resource management (HR) or personnel management as it used to be termed, is the name given to the business function charged with maximizing the productivity and profitability of an organization by optimizing the effectiveness of its employees. Formal systems are used for the management of a company’s human resources or people.

This business function is considered more prominent now as we become aware of the importance of employee motivation, satisfaction and contribution to the performance of the business.

The HR manager is usually responsible for recruitment, employee compensation packages and job descriptions. They will specify working practices, pay, and conditions of employment and negotiate with external agencies the company may work with on employment matters.

They will hire staff, retain them and develop them to reach their potential so that they contribute the maximum to the organisation. They will be tasked with planning the company’s future staffing needs, ensuring the right balance of staff is employed with the appropriate skills and experience to develop the company, selecting the right person to fill job vacancies, negotiating salary and benefits packages and incentives, planning and managing induction and training, analysing jobs, running performance management schemes, resolving disputes, and communicating with staff. They will cover all employee related matters, everything from daily record keeping to handing disputes that could lead to employee tribunals.

There are a number of specialist disciplines within HR, designed to optimise staff performance for the organisation. They include safety, diversity, reward packages, employee relations, employment law, organisation development and design, and learning and development and performance management.

In smaller companies, the HR manager may handle all of those matters. In larger organizations, each specialty may have its own HR officer. Responsibilities range from administrative all the way through to executive, with staff liaising at all levels of the organisation.

HR strategy

The HR manager needs to have a good understanding of the business, its objectives and future plans so they can align HR policies to ensure the right staff are in place to achieve goals and objectives.

For example if the company has a medium term objective of opening a new store or factory within a year, the HR department may get involved in working with agencies in the new area, and publicising the company and its future requirement for staff well in advance of the new store or office opening, In particular key staff members may be recruited ahead of time, allowing for them to spend some time at existing stores or offices, and learn the culture and practices of the company.

On the other hand if the medium to long term plan included the closure of a department, store or factory, the HR department will develop a plan to ensure staff are briefed appropriately, numbers are reduced gradually and voluntarily as far as possible, by adopting a policy of non-replacement of staff, perhaps picking up the slack by offering extra hours to the remaining workers. As the time for closure approaches, staff will be offered a compensation package, or offered redeployment if possible.

The HR department will be responsible for producing the detailed plan for these projects and implementing them. So at the top level, they must be involved in high level strategy and planning of the workforce.