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By: Kayla Bell on June 15th, 2015

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What Does the HR Department Do?

Business Management & Strategy

"In your opinion, what does the HR department do?” Is one of the first questions we ask during stakeholder interviews when conducting HR audits. 

Business leaders come to Helios HR for a variety of reasons: when they are establishing HR for the first time, believe they may need a change in their HR department, or after they've experienced rapid growth. With HR audits, we look at the effectiveness of the HR department including best practices and compliance. 

We receive a variety of answers to this question, but often find the majority describe HR as the hiring, firing, and policy department of the organization.  While no two HR departments are identical in structure, processes, operations, or outcomes, most HR departments serve the same day-to-day purpose.

The most successful HR Departments belong to organizations in which the executive team recognizes that a strategic human resources approach can have a significant impact on their bottom line.  In order for an HR department to operate in the most effective manner, organization leaders must first understand all of the ways that an HR department can impact the organization and their employees.

The Day-to-Day Operations of HR

As I mentioned before, most organizations structure their HR Department and processes differently, however, the day-to-day operations are fairly standard across the board. 

The Human Resources function is focused on the employee lifecycle, which typically covers the following:

  • Recruiting/Hiring: Finding the right candidates to fulfill job requirements
  • Onboarding: Welcoming and assimilating new employees into the organization
  • Training: Job-related training (either on-the-job or external) to enhance knowledge, skills, and abilities of the employee to perform his/her role and grow in the company
  • Performance Management: Establishing goals, manager & employee communication, performance appraisals
  • Employee Relations: Investigating and providing advice for solutions to correct employee poor performance or misconduct
  • Compensation: Employee salaries (to include bonuses)
  • Benefits Administration: Health & wellness benefits that are offered to the employees
  • Employee Engagement: The level of happiness and commitment that employees have for their job and the organization
  • Records Management: Employee personnel and medical files
  • HR Compliance: Ensuring the organization is following all federal and state employment regulations 
  • Policies: Writing, revising, communicating and enforcing all employee policies
  • Separations: Processing voluntary and involuntary separations

Strategic HR

For an HR Department to play a strategic role in the organization, the executive team needs to look at the HR function as more than a maintenance department of the above-mentioned operations.  While the day-to-day operations are imperative to a successful department, leaders may consider the following to determine how the HR function may play a more strategic role in their organization:

  • If the time and resources are spent to implement a recruiting program that utilizes the most effective sourcing methods to bring in the right fit for the position and the company, less time and money will be spent on managing poor performance and potentially back-filling this position as a result of an unsuccessful hire.
  • An employee’s first impression of an organization will carry through his/her tenure; an organization’s onboarding and assimilation program plays a significant role in employee morale.
  • An effective performance management system provides managers and employees the tools and guidance to effectively communicate expectations, goals, and concerns, as well as provides employees the opportunity to drive their success in the organization. A well-managed workforce may result in a more engaged workforce and decrease turnover for the company.
  • Offering fair and competitive compensation and benefits to employees tells the employees that they are valuable assets to the organization, and decreases the organization’s risk of losing a valuable employee due to salary – understanding market value of your positions in your respective location(s) is key when establishing a competitive compensation package.
  • Conducting Exit Interviews when an employee is voluntarily leaving his/her position can help an organization understand why employees are leaving and potentially identify changes that may reduce voluntary turnover for the organization.

In addition to these considerations, there are multiple ways in which the human resources department can significantly impact the employees throughout their tenure with the organization.  A highly engaged workforce that consists of the right people for the job and the company will play a significant role in the success of an organization.

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