Like virtually all other departments, human resources has changed tremendously over the years.
In fact, while bearing some similarities to their counterparts from history, today’s HR departments look almost completely different than their predecessors. So what exactly is HR’s role in today’s organization? Let’s take a look:
You can’t just post a job listing and hire the first person who applies.
HR departments serve as gatekeepers between job seekers and their organizations. They sift through the onslaught of resumes and cover letters — or at least utilize applicant tracking systems — to find qualified candidates that appear to meet their company’s needs.
Once that pool of candidates has been selected for a specific position, HR employees need to proactively manage the talent pipeline. They need to communicate with candidates early and often, providing relevant information and answering any questions that may arise.
Today’s HR departments are also partly responsible for a smooth employee onboarding process with new hires. They need to make sure new employees know who their coworkers are, where their work spaces are, what devices they can use, and the like. They also need to make sure new hires are familiar with company culture and the company handbook.
Beyond that, HR departments are charged with enrolling new hires in benefits packages (e.g., health insurance, dental insurance, and 401k programs) and adding them to payroll.
While these tasks have been known to take up a considerable amount of time in the past, thanks to the proliferation of HR software suites, a lot of these responsibilities can be automated.
HR departments can also play a role in ensuring employees are engaged.
For example, HR professionals who have open-door policies might hear the same complaints from a number of employees — and relay that information to their manager, suggesting they change the way things are done so workers are happier.
What’s more, HR professionals can also help administer weekly pulse surveys, which are designed to provide a snapshot into the health of an organization at a specific moment in time.
These surveys provide managers with actionable information in near-real time. So any problems that arise can be addressed immediately.
There are tons of laws that need to be followed. And at each organization, there are company-specific policies that need to be enforced.
Today’s HR departments are charged with the task of ensuring compliance across the board. Professionals need to make sure that their organizations are following the law exactly as it’s written. Some of the things HR departments oversee include employee classification (e.g., a full-time employee vs. an independent contractor), compensation discrimination, and EEOC regulations.
It’s critical that HR departments work to ensure their organizations are always in compliance. Otherwise, their companies could be subject to fines, sanctions, or worse.
According to the Small Business Administration, there were roughly 28 million businesses in the United States in 2010. With so many organizations out there, it can be difficult to make your stand out amongst the rest.
Your business needs to attract and hire top talent if it wishes to succeed. One way to do that is through employer branding — another responsibility that falls under the purview of HR.
Quite simply, employer branding is the sum of the HR team’s efforts at promoting their organization to a specific set of individuals. For example, if a business is looking to hire rock-star graphic designers, it might begin poking around on sites like Dribbble and make a presence there.
You know how everyone thinks Google would be an awesome company to work for? The company obviously builds great products — but a lot of that sentiment is tied to masterfully successful employer branding.
Organizational Change Management
Successful organizations understand that, in order to succeed, they have to be able to pivot on a dime if the business climate calls for it.
As an example, consider the case of Nokia: A leader in the mobile phone space in the 1990s and early 2000s, Nokia missed its chance to continue its dominance when Apple beat them to market with a smartphone. Understanding that they had essentially lost the mobile wars, Nokia sold its phone business and shifted its focus to networking and mapping.
In this vein, HR departments play a huge role when it comes to change management. When employees are expected to do one thing one day and then something entirely different the next, not all of them will take the news well. In these situations, it is imperative that the HR team works its magic to help assuage concerns and improve morale.
Compensation and Benefits
Woohoo! It’s payday! Every employee loves to be handed a check. And each one also enjoys having health insurance and dental insurance. It doesn’t hurt to be able to contribute to a company-matching 401k account either.
Everything related to compensation and benefits is housed within the HR department.
No matter the position, virtually all new hires will have to learn at least some skills on the job. For example, even the most seasoned journalist who doesn’t need any help when it comes to writing a story might need to be trained on how to use their new company’s content management system.
On top of that, even if someone’s been at the company for a decade, new technologies come along and all of a sudden, that individual has no idea what they’re doing anymore.
HR departments are also responsible for ensuring that employees have the tools and knowledge they need to succeed at their jobs. Beyond that, HR workers can keep their eyes open for other professional development opportunities that may present themselves — and share them with the team.
Today’s HR departments oversee candidates from the first day they walk through the door until the day they leave. Part of that supervision includes conducting exit interviews in which HR employees pick the brains of departing workers.
By conducting exit interviews, organizations learn why an individual decided to leave the company, what aspects of work that person liked the most, and which areas of work could be improved. That information is then analyzed, and any necessary changes are made.
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