Understanding Human Resources (HR)

Understanding Human Resources (HR)

A human resources department is an important part of a healthy company. It finds and retains top talent, helps employees grow as professionals, and allows an organization to thrive. This department also handles conflict resolution, compensation procedures, and many other processes that aid in the growth of any sized company.

{tocify} $title={Table of Contents}

Modern human resources in the U.S. started to form during the Industrial Revolution. During this time, researchers found a connection between worker wellness and productivity.

Human resources departments are common across the workforce today to help workers:

  • Understand their rights
  • Feel more satisfied with their work
  • Stay loyal to their organizations

Human Resources Defined

A human resources department is a group that manages employees from recruitment to onboarding to departure. It is also in charge of administering any benefits offered to employees and discussing retirement options.

Essentially, this department handles anything employee-related. It is an essential part of large and small businesses. It ensures employees have fair treatment and represent their companies’ cultures well.

What Does a Human Resources Department Do?

The main functions of a human resources (HR) department include:

  • Recruitment and hiring processes
  • Company culture and safe working environment maintenance
  • Professional relations between employer and employee
  • Onboarding, training, and professional development
  • Compensation and payroll practices
  • Employee disciplinary or termination actions

Recruit Candidates

Attracting top talent and retaining existing employees are some of the main priorities of a human resources department. Human resources managers build companies’ futures by having high-quality recruiting and hiring processes.

Human resources often works with department leaders to learn about open positions and requirements for ideal candidates. Then, the HR professionals will decide on a recruiting strategy.

Recruitment strategies may consist of:

  • Creating job postings
  • Screening applicant résumés
  • Conducting first interviews

In some companies, HR professionals are also in charge of conducting reference or background checks.

Help Foster the Company's Culture

Components of company culture include aspects like:

  • Hiring practices
  • Employee development
  • Employee relations

Human resources plans all of these components. These professionals work hard to confirm that company culture adapts and remains strong over time.

Human resources managers share information about the company culture with new employees during the onboarding process.

Human resources plans events and activities like:

  • Team outings
  • Recognition programs
  • Community-building exercises

These events build team morale. Human resources helps employees stay motivated and content with the company.

This department efficiently addresses any shortcomings or issues with workplace culture to benefit the entire company.

Manage Employee Relations

Human resources focuses on employee-employer dynamics. Human resources managers will create fairness and equity company policies for everyone in the workplace.

Whenever an employee has a dispute with another employee or employer, HR will work as a mediator to settle these disagreements. Some examples include concerns regarding:

  • Benefits
  • Payroll
  • Workload
  • Interpersonal conflict
  • Work hours or scheduling

Training and Employee Development

HR managers will provide training resources and professional development opportunities to all employees. This would include:

  • Employee development programs
  • Educational courses
  • Training opportunities
  • Career advancement resources

Providing these activities and resources can make employees more productive and satisfied. In addition, it may help reduce turnover rates at a company.

Oversee Compensation and Payroll

Part of the HR department’s role is to ensure employee satisfaction within the company, including compensation.

Human resources has to confirm that payroll is compliant with laws and regulations. It also oversees the distribution of pay to all employees.

Keeping competitive pay rates to attract talented candidates is crucial to this department’s role. Increasing pay for existing and potential employees is something that HR monitors and develops when a department’s budget deems it possible.

Talking to HR about compensation, satisfaction, and happiness within the role overall is a massive benefit to an employee.

Many employees don’t realize that HR can have an input in an employee getting a raise, promotion or bonus.

Employee Turnover

HR managers understand delicate matters, like discipline or termination, for employees and employers alike. Established practices make it easier to handle these situations reasonably.

Generally, this will include a straightforward, written disciplinary process that follows a set system. The HR department will develop these in response to company needs.

The HR professionals guide conversations around termination to minimize damage between the company and the employee. And HR ensures the process goes smoothly, whether the termination is voluntary or involuntary.

Human resources might also be in charge of working with legal counsel during these processes. This is to ensure the company is acting within the confines of the law. This legal aid will protect the company from employee lawsuits.

Does Every Company Have an HR Department?

Some companies may have just one or two designated individuals to act as their HR departments. These are often managers or supervisors already working at the company in other leadership roles.

This can be a dangerous option for a company with HR needs. Companies that don’t have formal HR departments put their employees and managerial staff at risk.

Additionally, growing companies may need larger departments to handle hiring and onboarding processes.

Putting all HR responsibility on a manager or another leader from the company leads to less effective use of their time. It also exposes the company to potential legal implications since these team members don’t have formal HR training.

Companies do not legally need HR departments. However, having skilled professionals knowledgeable of HR practices can help a company thrive and grow.

How to Begin a Career in Human Resources

Human resources (HR) may seem like an easy job and easy field to enter but that is not true. Passion, grit, and a commitment to impartiality are key to surviving and making a difference for both the employer and employee. Want to join the field? Forget what you heard and be ready to learn.

Working in human resources (HR) is a career people hope to obtain for many reasons. Some want this career path because it has the reputation of leadership and authority. Others want to work in HR because HR professionals are in a position where they can help provide employees with a good and safe workplace and help the organization run smoothly and profitably. There are still others who want jobs in HR because they feel they feel they are positions that will always be there and offer good career growth.

Almost every company has an HR department. While some may consist of only a couple of HR professionals, others may have a large HR department. Whatever the case may be, most companies have HR professionals on staff or outsource to an HR provider. Getting a job in human resources requires education and training, but it’s a career worth having and easy to attain with commitment and dedication.

Getting an Entry-Level Job

A candidate can generally obtain an entry-level position in human resources through one of the following three paths.

  • Earning a degree in HR
  • Earning a degree in a related field, such as industrial/organizational psychology or business, and gaining knowledge of human resources through various certifications
  • Working for several years in an operational role and transferring to the HR department

Education Required

The most common positions in an HR department are HR assistant, HR specialist and HR manager. They each have their own education and training requirements.

HR Managers

HR managers oversee the HR department of an organization. They consult with other department supervisors; plan and coordinate a company’s workforce for maximum productivity; oversee the recruiting, interviewing, hiring and termination of employees; develop employee benefit plans, and handle payrolls. Becoming an HR Manager requires a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business management, finance or a related field.

HR Specialists

HR specialists work alongside HR managers and handle many of the same duties as the HR manager but work under the supervision of HR managers. Working as an HR Specialist usually requires a bachelor’s degree in human resources and may also require work experience.

HR Assistant

HR assistants aid HR managers and HR specialists. They perform many administrative duties, including filing, posting job positions, interviewing applicants and keeping employee records. HR assistants usually have an associate degree but may be hired with experience and receive on-the-job training.

Candidates who aspire to work in human resources can choose from various other positions.

  • Compensation and benefits managers
  • Training and development specialists
  • Employment, recruitment, and placement specialists
  • Human resources information system analysts
  • Employee assistance plan managers


Mentorship is another important component of getting a job in human resources. Almost every high-level HR position requires candidates to complete internships. Internships provide aspiring HR professionals with supervised hands-on training working in a real-world environment. As great as it is to have a degree in human resources, it’s only a degree. Human resource professionals, such as HR managers, are in charge of the entire HR department and also manage many other areas of a business.

The company is going to want to hire someone who has more than just a degree but actual work experience as well. Applying for as many internships as possible not only provides on-the-job training and work experience but also gives candidates the opportunities to get to know potential employers.


Human resources professionals are not required by law to be certified, but some positions or companies may require certification. Some HR graduates may choose to voluntarily obtain certification because it demonstrates commitment and professional credibility to potential employers. Although it varies by organization, eligibility for certification usually requires completing an accredited HR training program, having work experience and passing a certification exam.

Leave a Comment
Previous Post Next Post

Post a Comment

Post a Comment