Home Business Insights & Advice An introduction to Human Resources (HR): What you need to know

An introduction to Human Resources (HR): What you need to know

by John Saunders
22nd Feb 22 6:02 pm

Human resources (HR) departments play a significant role in most businesses, while the so-called “people profession) has experienced significant growth since 2009.

More specifically, the overall HR marketplace in the UK has grown by more than 17% since 2009, while this sector now accounts for around 1.6% of the country’s total workforce.

But what exactly is human resources, and what skills and qualifications do you need to work in the sector?

What do HR departments do?

The field of HR handles a diverse and vast realm of employer and employee relations, providing a range of complex services in the process.

In simple terms, HR departments employ “the people who manage the people”, assuming responsibility for the life cycle of each individual employee from their initial recruitment to eventual departure.

Ultimately, an HR team will work to make an employee’s workplace experience as comfortable and efficient as possible, while they’ll also maintain a constant line of communication between them and the brand.

To qualify for a role in HR, you may want to pursue a ‘Human Resources and Organisational Leadership Degree Program’, which equips you with the hard skills and accreditation to perform a range of HR roles.

However, this isn’t a prerequisite for working in HR, with real-time analysis of more than 200,000 HR job postings on Burning-Glass.com revealing a host of soft skills that employees often look for in candidates.

Among the most in-demand skills are employee relations and onboarding, along with administrative support, organisation and scheduling.

HR employees should also have at least some experience or ability in performance management and customer service, while boasting at least some form of skill in handling Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS).

What are the basic principles of HR?

At its core, HR is underpinned by seven basic principles and functions. We’ve outlined these in a little detail below:

  • Recruitment and Selection: These are the two most visible elements of HR, with employees required to liaise with key stakeholders in a business to identify the best candidates for specific roles.
  • Performance Management: If you’ve ever had a year-end review, you’ll know that this is crucial to any job role. This is referred to as performance management, and HR departments oversee this to optimise collective and individual output over time.
  • Learning and Development: Retaining staff members is much cheaper than recruiting new ones, and HR plays an important commercial function by training staff members and aiding their personal development over time.
  • Succession Planning: This refers to the process of making contingency plans for the departure of stakeholders from the company. HR departments need to oversee such plans and aid the business’s growth over an extended period of time.
  • Compensation and Benefits: Pay and benefits are also central to the function of HR teams, with market research and open banking solutions helping firms to optimise both the level remuneration and efficiency of payments.
  • Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS): This term refers to the key tools of the HR trade, with HRIS supports all of the functions listed above to optimise performance and ensure that the department is run efficiently.
  • HR Data and Analytics: HR data management and analytics also undermines HRIS, with the accumulation and inspection of data aiding everything from successful recruitment to the management of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

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