The people who work at your business are truly the heart of the organization — and at the center of its success! You can have a great product or service, but without assembling adept leaders, effective managers, and talented employees, your business would remain lifeless.
Still, people are wonderfully complex and diverse, which means managing people and their needs is no simple task. The key ingredient to this secret sauce are HR initiatives that improve employee experience and benefits. It’s so important, in fact, that employment of human resource managers is forecasted to grow by seven percent between 2021 and 2031. And truthfully, it’s about time!
Managing human resources is a huge responsibility, but a well-supported department can diversify your workforce, bring in top talent, retain your current employees, and most importantly, make your company a rewarding place to work.
Human resource management is the process of overseeing, administering to, and developing the people in your workforce, especially to achieve optimal performance and results. People need an environment where they are safe, healthy, and satisfied to do good work. Human resource management ensures those needs are being met through policies, practices, and assets.
The phrase “human resources” can refer to two things:
- The people that work for the organization are “human resources.”
- The department in charge of hiring, administration and training personnel is usually called Human Resources.
The human resource department tends to wear many hats, but its main responsibility is to manage all things related to employees. It advocates for the wellbeing of both workers and the company.
What Does Managing Human Resources Look Like in the Real World?
How an HR department functions will vary from company to company and even from industry to industry, but there are certain overarching objectives all HR managers have. They help train new employees and ensure that existing employees continue to grow and develop by providing knowledge, tools, and additional educational resources. These professionals take on many administrative duties that serve the function of the organization, but they also prioritize the people through talent management.
Here are some of the most important and impactful tasks that HR departments employ to ensure that employees are not only supported but prospering.
A key part of managing human resources is bringing the right people into the organization through the hiring process. HR takes ownership of the employee lifecycle — from recruitment to interviewing to retainment — and works to design a staffing plan, which outlines an effective and ethical method for workforce retention and maintenance.
The point of a staffing plan is to understand the number and types of employees needed to achieve the goals of your business. Developing the best staffing plan takes a lot of research and intention, especially one that balances the needs of your organization, personnel, and budget.
Recruiting new employees (step one in executing your staffing plan) is another demanding job. It includes attracting top talent, searching for the best of the best, shortlisting, and choosing the right people. Interviewing and hiring new employees can be a long and tedious process, but worth the effort to bring on people who will stay and grow at your company, perform well at their job, and contribute to your vision and mission. And of course, HR specialists help onboard new employees and ensure those staffers have the resources and training they need to be happy and successful.
HR also helps structure a business, particularly when it comes to policies. Policies should protect both the interests of the company and the wellness of your employees. HR management is a key player and is always consulted with the development of specific verbiage of workplace policies. Some policies they can develop include:
- Discipline policies
- Vacation and PTO policies
- Dress code
- Exit strategies
- Remote work policies
- Harassment or discrimination
- Compensation and benefits
- Health and safety
Human resource professionals need to be proactive when it comes to policies. It’s too easy to accept the way things have always been done and create a negative work environment because of traditional policies. Be aware of when policy changes are needed, especially by engaging with feedback from employees.
There are a lot of niche topics and procedures HR managers must be aware of, so these should be regularly reviewed to ensure that everyone is safe and happy and all practices are ethical.
Administering Pay and Benefits
Handling compensation is a big one for HR. This can include overseeing salaries or designing a useful and competitive benefits package that meets industry standards.
Salary is a vital area of human resources management. People want to be paid fairly and won’t stick around if they aren’t: 60% of U.S. employees would be interested in switching companies if it meant greater pay transparency, according to a 2022 report by the compensation platform company Beqom, so open communication about salary can be a game changer.
HR must ensure there is a fair payment system in place, one where people are adequately compensated, have opportunities for growth and advancement, and are paid according to industry and market standards. For example, it’s important to consider the impact inflation has on employees’ cost of living, and this should be reflected in people’s raises.
Benefits too can make or break how interested potential employees are (and how loyal current ones are!) Sixty-four percent of employees whose benefits were updated said they had no plans to leave next year, according to a 2022 Paychex report from Human Resources Director.
Some of the most important employee benefits include:
- Health (healthcare, wellness programs, etc.)
- 401k and other retirement benefits
- Workplace flexibility
- Daycare and parental leave
- PTO and holidays
The Great Resignation is making it rather difficult to keep employees. One study from Joblist showed that 73% of employed Americans are actively thinking about quitting, which can largely be attributed to poor work environments or culture, lack of opportunities and growth, or unfair compensation. For these reasons, HR personnel are increasingly focused on employee retention so that employees want to stay and feel motivated to do their best work.
This aspect of managing human resources — employee engagement — really boils down to problem solving. How can you alleviate the challenges employees are facing? Are there any issues with your company culture? Could you offer better benefits or compensation? Do your employees feel appreciated? Seventy-nine percent of people who quit their job say that a lack of appreciation was a major factor in their decision. HR is meant to prevent that kind of work environment so make sure that your company is offering all that it can, emotionally and fiscally, to keep employees healthy and happy.
Training and Development
Fifty seven percent of U.S. workers want to update their skills and 48% of them would consider switching jobs to do it, so identifying opportunities to bolster employee training and growth programs can be a game-changer for a lot of employees.
Training and development includes regular performance reviews, employee feedback, and even team-building exercises that help different departments and teams act as a more cohesive whole. Or consider a mentorship program, which gives more tenured employees the opportunity to impart some of their hard-earned wisdom and for newer employees to gain hands-on guidance.
Policy training also falls under the HR umbrella, where employees and managers alike understand what is expected of them, their behavior, and their interactions. This may include training on how to safely use company technology and technology, how to stop harassment in the workplace, or how to use your healthcare benefits. HR has a great opportunity here to embrace this type of education to shape the culture of your company and prepare future leaders for your business and industry.
HR is the primary department that ensures laws are being followed and that no illegal activity is occurring within the company. Being aware of and understanding any law in place that affects employees is an important aspect of HR, as is making sure employees are protected from unfair or harmful behaviors. HR has the responsibility of making sure everything is legally up to code and above the board, especially in relation to:
HR should notify organizations when changes are made to these laws and set procedures in place to ensure all policies and organizational actions are compliant with the law. If a new policy is introduced that is non-compliant, it falls to HR to inform the leaders of the organization.
As an HR department, you must be aware of and understand all safety regulations, both the legal requirements and union requirements when applicable. This starts with protecting the physical and mental health of employees, but it also includes protecting the private information of employees. This means safeguarding data and networks and using personal information ethically.
Especially as remote work is embraced, solid communication practices are vital to an organization. Everyone involved in managing human resources should have clear and concise communication skills that help them unify the workforce, answer questions, and make others comfortable. HR should be friendly with staff, non-judgemental, and easy to approach so that employees can go to HR with their needs without fear.
As important as employee retention is, the reality is, employees leave companies. And that’s okay! Not everything is in HR’s control. Because of this, it’s important to have succession plans, which is essentially your contingency plan for if/when an employee leaves.
HR helps to determine when employees are leaving the organization or their position, identify employees that can fill in the open position, and monitor the talent pipeline. When an employee is replaced, HR also begins their training so that there is a seamless transition. This is especially critical when management positions need filling, and HR has the responsibility to make sure those spots are quickly filled to prevent a lapse in productivity.
How To Make Your HR Management Shine
Managing human resources is a demanding and ongoing responsibility, but it’s also one of the most rewarding occupations out there. People need someone who will advocate for them and, at work, HR is that person. If you want to create an environment that cares about the employees, your HR should look into wellness programs as a benefit. Wellness programs aren’t just a unique and attractive benefit to slap on a job posting; they promote healthier living and greater work-life wellness by providing resources for mental, physical, and emotional health. Talk to a wellbeing specialist today to discover the amazing advantages of wellness programs in the workplace!
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The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.