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Understanding the Human Resources Function

The human resources (HR) function is one of the key functions within any organization. HR, as defined by Investopedia, is "charged with finding, recruiting, screening, and training job applicants. It also administers employee benefit programs."

In today's business world, the role of HR goes beyond just recruitment, training and benefits administration. They play a crucial role in influencing company culture, engaging employees and designing competitive total remuneration packages to attract and retain talent. Here are 8 domain areas that form the cornerstone of the HR function today.

Talent Acquisition

As its name suggests, talent acquisition is the process of sourcing for talent to join the organization. In some organizations, it may sometimes be referred to as Recruitment. This team is responsible for hiring candidates that possess the right skills for the job and also ensuring that potential candidates have the right culture fit with the organization. The entire talent acquisition life cycle involves working with the respective department leaders to understand talent needs, creating job descriptions and posting job vacancies to sourcing and shortlisting eligible candidates, interviewing and preparing job offers.

Compensation & Benefits

Compensating employees is one of the key accountabilities of the HR function. Compensation covers the monetary aspect of remunerating employees. This involves designing competitive compensation packages that cover salaries, allowances and bonuses. Benefits, on the other hand, covers non-monetary aspects, such as annual leave, insurance coverage and other office perks. HR plays a crucial role in ensuring that employees are remunerated in line with market practices while also making sure that it is competitive to attract key talents.

Learning & Development

As technology advances, the skills required in today's workplace also evolve. HR is accountable for generating professional development programmes to upskill and cross-skill, enabling them to advance in their career.  Learning and development today goes beyond merely administering training programmes. It also encompasses working with respective business leaders to identify training gaps, tailor learning interventions to enable maximum knowledge transfer, and evaluate the effectiveness of these training programmes.

Employee Engagement & Wellbeing

Keeping employees engaged is one of the strategies to attract and retain key talent. Hence, it is not surprising for HR today to have a team dedicated to looking after employees' well-being. Employee engagement today goes beyond organizing team building workshops and off-site events. HR plays a vital role in fostering a culture of inclusion and transparency, where employees can voice their concerns and feedback. In addition, giving employees tools to help them with their wellbeing, such as mental health helplines, or support for their career or personal lives, also falls under HR's purview.

Employee Relations

HR often acts as the gatekeeper when it comes to managing relationships between employees and the organization. This may include explaining the office's code of conduct, handling disputes and disciplinary cases, and addressing any other concerns that employees may have.

Performance Management

Monitoring, evaluating, and managing employees' performance is a critical HR function. Most organizations have in place annual performance review cycles, where line managers and their respective teams engage in discussions to outline the employee's development plan and career aspirations, while ensuring alignment with the organization's objectives and goals. HR is also accountable for facilitating bi-annual and annual performance reviews to ensure that employees are on track to achieving these goals. In fact, effective performance management processes can also enable HR and business leaders to identify high-performing individuals for promotion or succession planning.

HR Compliance

Organizations are bound to the local labour and employment laws in the country that they operate in. HR acts as an enforcer to ensure that internal HR processes and workflows adhere to local employment legislations. This may include stipulating working hours and benefits in line with local regulations, overseeing the necessary tax withholding, and managing non-discriminatory hiring and termination practices.

Organizational Structure

While the outlining of the organizational structure may fall on the leadership team, HR often acts as the executor in formulating the overall people agenda based on the organization's structure. This may encompass defining the span of control within each department or team as well as charting out potential career pathways for existing employees.

HR today plays a strategic role in the entire organization. It is a multifaceted function that partners with senior leaders on strategic iniatives that support the overall people agenda, while also working closely with employees on their compensation and benefits needs, as well as welfare. As organizations and skill sets evolve, so will the responsibilities of the HR function.

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