What is HR?

Article By
James Cumming
James Cumming
Posted On20th September 2021
Posted On20th September 2021

What is HR? HR – or human resources – is a department in a business responsible for taking care of the employee life cycle. This includes recruiting, hiring, onboarding, training, and firing employees, as well as employee benefits, maternity leave and sick pay.

The HR department is also key in business success and growth as it is their responsibility to work with managers to develop and embed people strategies throughout the business and to ensure the vision is shared by all employees.

Organisations depend on three main resources: physical, financial and people. The role that the people play cannot be underestimated because it is vital in any business because they will execute strategies, plans, and processes to make a business successful. And HR is in charge of looking after the people and one of the biggest assets. If people are managed correctly, organizations can be more profitable, lead more effectively, create brand loyalty and do better work.

The human resource function of every business defines its success as an organization. An organisation’s HR function needs to be effective as it plays a major role in the growth of its bottom line and the success of its business strategy.

What does HR do?

There is a whole range of tasks that HR is responsible for, which are all centred around the people in the business. Human resource is a resource for the people to help and support them and their tasks include:

Recruit candidates

When recruiting, HR needs to understand the needs of the business to find the right people for new positions. Arranging interviews, coordinating hiring efforts, and onboarding new employees all falls under their remit.

Update employee records and company policies

Policies need to be checked and updated where necessary, to keep aligned with the changes in the business. Employee records need to be kept on file and up to date. This is a legal requirement, can help to identify skills shortages and also have emergency contacts for each employee.

Employee benefit analysis

If you want to recruit the top talent, you need to ensure your benefits are attractive, so that you do not miss out to other companies. To stay competitive, benefits analysis needs to be undertaken by HR, to see what other companies are offering and if your package is good enough.


It is thought of as the ‘not so nice side of HR’, but it is really important that disciplinaries are navigated properly, ultimately for the best for the employee and the business. Whether there is a problem that needs investigating, so relevant support and guidance can be given to the employee to help them get better. This is much better for the business than going through the time and cost of firing and replacing them. However, sometimes it is better for the individual and the business for them to be let go if they just aren’t the right fit for the business. It is up to HR to decide the best course of action in these situations. If navigated inappropriately, disciplinary actions can lead to the loss of a valuable employee and can even result in litigation or a poor reputation.

How does HR support employees?

HR exists to help employees thrive, protects their wellbeing, and makes sure they are happy in their role and at the company. Here are the ways HR supports the people of the business.

Career paths

Career paths give employees goals and keep them motivated and engaged. Once you have a great employee you want to keep them so it’s important that they know how they can progress. HR can then check in periodically to further guide employees on their career paths. 

Learning and development

Offering training opportunities is a great way to keep your employees motivated and helps them to continuously develop their skills. HR can help determine which classes and training programs would be best for an employee on his or her designated career path.

Making managers

Managers aren’t born. They’re created. HR can help by organising relevant training, support and mentors to make the best managers.

Wellbeing at work

Well-being is so important, and it is becoming a real focal point for businesses. People want to feel happy and healthy. They want to feel valued, appreciated and developed. Happy and healthy employees produce better work and make a much better culture, so it’s important to remember that employees are people. Wellbeing in the workplace covers navigating everything from physical and mental health, financial health, and other issues such as pregnancy and adoption, bereavement and divorce.

When do you need HR?

The HR department should have regular 121 meetings to check how they’re getting on in their role and with their career path, plus to see if they have any problems or issues they’d like to discuss. You can find out what else makes a great HR professional here.

The situations where employees may need to reach out to HR for support:

  • If you experience harassment or discrimination from colleagues
  • With questions about benefits that need answering
  • If personal circumstances change which will affect your working schedule
  • To discuss your career path, progression, and training
  • Any other work-related issue

When does a company need a dedicated HR person?
  • If they’re rapidly expanding

Not only can they help with recruiting and onboarding new people, but they can also carry out performance reviews to assess for strengths and weaknesses and identifying where improvements can be made. This helps businesses get the very best out of their team.

  • If they need help with employment law

Employment law can change rapidly, and an HR manager can make sure you’re up to date with all the latest changes to employment law.

  • Employee disputes are on the rise

The more employees you have, the greater the risk of issues. An HR manager is responsible for handling conflicts in the workplace and should be able to avoid lawsuits through mediation. This enables the business to keep staff happy and productive.

What is HRM?

Human resources management is the strategic approach to the employment, development, and wellbeing of the people in a business. It involves all management decisions and actions that affect the relationship between the organisation and its employees.

The functions of HRM are managerial, operative, and advisory.

Managerial functions include:

  • Planning: The planning function of HRM ensures the best fit between employees and jobs avoiding shortages or surpluses. There are four key steps of the HRP process: Analysing present HR supply, forecasting HR demand, balancing HR demand with supply, and aligning to the organizational goals.
  • Organising: Organising is the function of HRM that involves developing an organizational structure to ensure the accomplishment of the organizational goals.
  • Directing: Ensuring all employees are doing what they should be doing, in order to achieve the business goals.
  • Controlling: Performance is evaluated, verified, and compared with overall goals. Action must be taken if performance isn’t at the right level, otherwise it wil effect the business in a negaive way.

The advisory function includes:

  • Top Management Advice: Advise the top management in formulating policies and procedures to maintain high-quality HR and improve employee morale.
  • Departmental Head advice: HRM advises the heads of various departments on policies related to job design, job description, recruitment, selection, appraisals.

What is the importance of HRM?
  • Valuing individuals:
    Employees are more likely to stay at an organization with an empathetic employer. The happywork study by Ultimate Software says that 75% of employees would stay longer at an organization that listens to and addresses their concerns.
  • People bring ideas:
    HRM manages people, and people bring new skills and ideas and help the growth of business.
  • Quality of work life:
    Quality of work life is a legitimate concern, and that employees have a right to safe, clean, and pleasant surroundings, which is one of the responsibilities of HRM.
  • Upskilling is a long-term interest:
    HRM recognizes the need for continuous learning; talents and skills must be continually refined in the long-term interests of the organization.
  • Employee satisfaction: People have a right to be satisfied by their work, and organizations have a responsibility, and a profit motivation, to try to match their skills with their job.

HR tech and systems

From an HR perspective, there has never been a stronger case for investing in technology solutions to support employees and business operations.

HR has been at the forefront of the pandemic helping guide people through the challenges faced due to Covid and remote working and HR systems have been key.

HR technology has enabled the rapid shift to remote working and has been vital in supporting ‘virtual’ processes such as recruitment and onboarding.

James Cumming is our MD and leads our HR practice. He has recruited senior HR professionals for over 15 years and has experience in finding niche HR talent. Connect with him on LinkedIn here.

If you would like to find out more about re:find and how we can support you and your business, then please get in touch.

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