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The work human resources professionals perform permeates the entire organization. The many tasks involved with fielding and overseeing a workforce, known as HR management, or HRM, have a direct effect on a company's ability to achieve its goals. Those interested in this pivotal management career have two career options: generalist or specialist. HR generalists have responsibility for all seven major categories of HRM. Larger organizations employ specialists, who focus on one category.
Supporting Organizational Strategy
The direction an organization wants to pursue -- its strategy -- presents people-oriented concerns that HRM must address. Whether the strategy seeks to develop a new product line or expand into a new market segment, workforce size and skill determine its feasibility and success. HRM's strategic contribution evaluates the capabilities of employees currently on the payroll to determine any skill gaps that could hamper the strategy and what, if any, reassignments could provide better staffing. HR plans how best to provide the right people where and when they're needed and initiates programs to deliver the required talent.
Securing Qualified Manpower
From analyzing job requirements to retaining those on the payroll, the staffing component of HRM is an ongoing process. Open positions cost the organization in terms of reduced productivity or overtime, while a bad hire wastes resources and time. HR professionals, often job analyst specialists, determine the skills, education, and experience requirements needed to perform each position and set the compensation level. Recruitment specialists or HR generalists work to attract and hire qualified internal and external candidates. Retention depends on a good cultural fit and skills match.
Managing and Developing Talent
New workers' introductions to their jobs and the company set the tone for their careers. HRM orientation and training programs ensure new hires get a proper welcome and start. Training and human resource development aspects of talent management offer HR professionals specialist concentrations. Other talent-management activities HRM covers include career planning and development and performance management. Giving employees opportunities to grow with the organization, providing regular feedback on their performance, and coaching their professional development feed employee satisfaction and engagement.
Adhering to Employment Regulations
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces key laws that affect hiring and employment practices, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, which prohibits discrimination against employees and applicants. Affirmative action programs and policies promoting workforce diversity complement EEOC-mandated actions. Additional regulations enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security add to HR's documentation burden. Because compliance with these legal requirements affects all human resource responsibilities, EEOC activities merit their own HRM category.
Rewarding Employee Contributions
Compensation plays a big part in employee satisfaction and an organization's competitive position in the labor market. HRM uses a total-rewards approach to compensation. Total rewards includes monetary incentives, such as salaries, merit pay, promotions and bonuses, as well as non-monetary perks, including professional and personal growth opportunities and benefits packages that provide health insurance and paid time off. Programs that help employees balance work and life obligations -- flexible scheduling, working at home and on-site child care, for example -- fall under HRM total rewards activities, as do employee-recognition initiatives.
Protecting Workers and Minimizing Risk
HRM takes steps to make the workplace safe and secure. Health and safety hazard inspections, training employees on safe work habits and providing necessary personal protection equipment comply with Occupational Health and Safety Administration requirements, as do the record-keeping and reports that accompany them. Policies on workplace violence, building access and emergency procedures promote worker safety. HRM also deals with the ergonomics of workstations and equipment employees use to guard against injuries. To minimize litigation risks and fines, HRM establishes ethics policies and codes of conduct.
Maintaining Positive Workforce Relations
Creating and nurturing a positive relationship between the company and its workforce falls under HRM. An regularly updated, comprehensive employee handbook keeps all parties informed about policies, procedures, expectations and rights. In locations with collective bargaining agreements, HRM covers contract interpretation and grievance resolution and maintains a working relationship with union representatives. Labor-relations management is an HR specialty often called industrial relations.
- Society for Human Resource Management: Careers in Human Resource Management
- Human Resource Management: Essential Perspectives; Robert L. Mathis and John H. Jackson
- Managing Human Resources; George W. Bohlander and Scott Snell
- McGraw-Hill Higher Ed: The Nature of Staffing
- Society for Human Resource Management: EEO: General: What Is the Difference Between EEO, Affirmative Action and Diversity?
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Workplace Laws Not Enforced by the EEOC
- Society for Human Resource Management: Implementing Total Rewards Strategies
- HR Certification Institute: 2013 Certification Handbook
- Managing Human Resources; Susan E. Jackson et al.
Trudy Brunot began writing in 1992. Her work has appeared in "Quarterly," "Pennsylvania Health & You," "Constructor" and the "Tribune-Review" newspaper. Her domestic and international experience includes human resources, advertising, marketing, product and retail management positions. She holds a master's degree in international business administration from the University of South Carolina.
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