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The Key Functions
Making Up Human Resources

Human Resources a magic wand, and lots of icons of HR functions with magic stars sparkled everywhere.
Hacking HR Team

Posted on December 14, 2023

Human resources (HR) teams handle various critical functions related to managing people within an organization. At its core, HR aims to acquire talent, support employees, build an engaging and inclusive work culture, ensure legal compliance, and contribute strategic insights to the business.  

This blog will break down the critical functional areas that allow HR to deliver immense value across the employee life cycle. The knowledge of these core HR functions provides a helpful context for HR practitioners looking to develop their skills and business leaders seeking to empower their people teams.

1. Sourcing and Recruiting Top Talent

  • Workforce Planning: An essential function of HR is forecasting future talent needs, which is crucial for strategic workforce planning.

  • Job Descriptions: Crafting job descriptions is a fundamental HR activity that attracts the right talent.

  • Applicant Screening: This HR management function ensures only the most qualified candidates are selected.

  • Interview Coordination: A critical human resource management function in the recruitment process.

  • Job Offers: Extending job offers is a primary function of the HR department, balancing organizational needs and candidate expectations.

  • Onboarding: An essential HR department function, ensuring new hires integrate into the company culture.

2. Administering Payroll and Benefits

  • Payroll Management: A crucial HR function involving accurate wage calculation and timely disbursement.

  • Benefits Administration: This human resources management activity is vital to employee satisfaction and retention.

  • Compliance: Ensuring compliance in payroll and benefits is a fundamental human resource management activity.

3. Nurturing Employee Growth and Development

  • Skill Assessments: Regular skill assessments are vital HR activities for employee development.

  • Training Programs: Designing training programs is a core function of human resource management.

  • Career Pathing: Assisting in career development is a strategic HR management function.

4. Monitoring Regulatory Compliance

  • Policy Management: Updating policies is a critical human resources function for legal compliance.

  • Legal Adherence: Ensuring HR practices adhere to laws is a crucial function of human resources.

  • Data Protection: A vital HR function in today's digital world.

5. Supporting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

  • DEI Strategies: Developing DEI strategies is an increasingly crucial human resource function.

  • Inclusive Hiring Practices: A crucial aspect of HR functions to ensure workplace diversity.

  • DEI Training and Awareness: DEI training is a significant HR department function.

6. Crafting Employee Engagement Initiatives

  • Employee Surveys: Conducting surveys is a pivotal HR activity for gauging employee engagement.

  • Team-Building Activities: Organizing these activities is a vital HR management activity.

  • Recognition Programs: Implementing recognition programs is a vital function of HR.

7. Mediating Workplace Issues and Conflict

  • Conflict Resolution: Resolving conflicts is a critical HR role in maintaining a healthy work environment.

  • Policy Enforcement: A vital function of the HR department is upholding company standards.

  • Employee Relations: Managing employee relations is a core human resources function.

8. Providing HR Data Analytics and Insights

  • Data Analysis: Analyzing HR data is a growing HR function for strategic decision-making.

  • Reporting: Creating reports is an essential HR activity for informing management.

  • Strategic Planning: Using data for strategic planning is a crucial function of human resource management.

9. Contributing Strategic Workforce Planning

  • Talent Forecasting: A crucial HR function for future organizational success. Understanding and predicting talent needs ensures the organization’s readiness for future challenges and opportunities.

  • Succession Planning: An essential human resource management function for leadership continuity. It ensures the organization has a ready pool of candidates to fill critical roles as they become available.

  • Organizational Design: Aligning organizational structure with strategic goals is a crucial HR management function. It involves understanding current organizational needs and anticipating future changes in the market or industry.

In strategic workforce planning, the role of HR in high-level decision-making cannot be overstated. Excluding HR professionals from these strategic conversations can lead to significant oversights. For more insights on this, our article 'HR Exclusion in Strategic Decision: The Cost of Not Including HR in Business Strategic Decision-Making' delves into the potential negative consequences and costs associated with not integrating HR's expertise into business strategy. This piece highlights the critical need for HR's involvement in shaping the strategic direction of an organization.

10. Ensuring Health and Safety

  • Workplace Safety: Implementing safety protocols is a critical function of HR.

  • Compliance with Safety Regulations: Ensuring safety compliance is a vital human resources management function.

  • Employee Wellness Programs: Promoting wellness programs is a vital HR department function.

HR Key Functions Driving People's Success

As this overview illustrates, human resources teams handle a diverse mix of critical functions affecting every employee daily. While specifics differ across companies, HR practitioners serve as talent scouts, coach-like developers, paycheck guardians, policy wonks, culture stewards, dispute mediators, savvy strategists, and more.

Empowering teams with adequate resources strengthens workforce capabilities, engagement, productivity, and organizational performance. No other function touches talent development and culture building in quite the same holistic way. Wise leaders recognize HR's multifaceted contributions and invite closer strategic collaboration to drive better decisions.

What questions arise when reflecting on these core HR functions within your organization?

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