Human Resources personnel in a company often wear a variety of hats. They often oversee or manage recruitment, office safety, employee discipline and conflict resolution, compensation and benefits, and much more. In larger corporations, local HR often has regular meetings with corporate HR, to ensure that local branches are meeting the same standards as the national levels.
At smaller companies, human resources staff are often jacks of all trades, filling in wherever’s needed and making sure the company runs smoothly.
But what do all of these different responsibilities look like day to day?
HR personnel may not directly manage hiring and firing, but they are the people responsible for identifying positions that need to be filled, determining the right places for jobs to be posted, creating internal and external postings, and are generally at least the front line responders to initial applications.
In some companies, human resources personnel are directly responsible for conducting interviews, making hiring decisions, and in the case of terminations, letting the employee know that their job has ended, and making sure that all belongings are removed from a person’s desk on their way out.
This can be an incredibly stressful piece of the HR umbrella. There are many important regulations that must be followed during hiring, such as making sure that a business is following equal opportunity laws and rules, and tracking responses to ads in various locations to find out where the company is recruiting its best employees.
Safety at a company can take many different forms. Ensuring that the company is taking care of its physical offices by keeping walkways clear, meeting building safety codes, and posting appropriate signage in breakrooms and offices.
HR can also manage safety by implementing rules around sexual harassment, discrimination, and drug and alcohol policies. In general, HR is responsible for making clear rules around these policies, making sure they align with local, state, and federal law, and then communicating those rules to employees. When rules are broken, depending on severity, these conversations may be handled by managers, or they may go directly to HR.
In situations where there are judgement calls to be made, such as dress code, it’s often up to HR to determine what steps to take to resolve the issue.
Compensation and Benefits
Employee compensation and benefits package are such an immense piece of HR that in larger companies, this area is often broken off into its own department within HR. Compensation in and of itself is a huge responsibility; human resources personnel may monitor salaries to make sure they are competitive within both the organization and the industry at large.
They may monitor salaries within the company and look for discrepancies between male and female employees, or white employees and employees who are people of color.
When companies are looking to purchase business insurance for items like workers compensation and data loss, HR is often involved in those processes. In many cases, liability and compensation insurances have higher premiums the more employees a company has; HR usually has the best grasp of exactly how many employees work for the company.
Employee Conflict Resolution
When two employees are in conflict, whether that be because of interpersonal differences, or because one of them feels that a major rule has been broken, the conflict may be handled between team leaders or manager. When the conflict is of a more serious nature, however, or when it can’t be handled in this way, HR often joins in to either handle the situation, or provide a neutral third party perspective. This last is often done when the company is concerned about the potential for liability.
For example, if a female employee is alleging sexual harassment by another employee, HR will often try to have another female at any meetings as a neutral party to follow up on the company’s responsibilities.
HR often makes the initial salary offer at the end of the interview process, before the candidate accepts the position. They may also process payroll and make sure that timecards are completed properly.
The human resources department often gets made fun of in TV and movies, where they’re seen as meddlers and people who cause trouble for the rest of the company, who just wants to get their work done. In the real life, human resources are often the department that grease the wheels of the entire company; they make sure that all the right people are in the right places at the right times. This helps the company keep turning, and makes sure that everyone else can do their jobs without interference.