Human Resource Management Functions




The role of human resource management is to plan, develop, and administer policies and programmes designed to make expeditious use of an organisation’s human resources. It is that part of management which is concerned with the people at work and with their relationship within an enterprise.

Its objectives are:
  1. Effective utilisation of human resources;
  2. Desirable working relationships among all members of the organisation; and
  3. Maximum individual development.
The major functional areas in human resource management are:
  1. Planning,
  2. Staffing,
  3. Employee development, and
  4. Employee maintenance.
These four areas and their related functions share the common objective of an adequate number of competent employees with the skills, abilities, knowledge, and experience needed for further organisational goals. Although each human resource function can be assigned to one of the four areas of personnel responsibility, some functions serve a variety of purposes. For example, performance appraisal measures serve to stimulate and guide employee development as well as salary administration purposes. The compensation function facilitates retention of employees and also serves to attract potential employees to the organisation. A brief description of usual human resource functions are given below:

Human Resource Planning: In the human resource planning function, the number and type of employees needed to accomplish organisational
goals are determined. Research is an important part of this function because planning requires the collection and analysis of information in order to forecast human resources supplies and to predict future human resources needs. The basic human resource planning strategy is staffing and employee development.

Job Analysis: Job analysis is the process of describing the nature of a job and specifying the human requirements, such as skills, and experience needed to perform it. The end product of the job analysis process is the job description. A job description spells out work duties and activities of employees. Job descriptions are a vital source of information to employees, managers, and personnel people because job content has a great influence on personnel programmes and practices.

Staffing: Staffing emphasises the recruitment and selection of the human resources for an organisation. Human resources planning and recruiting precede the actual selection of people for positions in an organisation. Recruiting is the personnel function that attracts qualified applicants to fill job vacancies. In the selection function, the most qualified applicants are selected for hiring from among those attracted to the organisation by the recruiting function. On selection, human resource functionaries are involved in developing and administering methods that enable managers to decide which applicants to select and which to reject for the given jobs.

Orientation: Orientation is the first step toward helping a new employee adjust himself to the new job and the employer. It is a method to acquaint new employees with particular aspects of their new job, including pay and benefit programmes, working hours, and company rules and expectations.

Training and Development: The training and development function gives employees the skills and knowledge to perform their jobs effectively. In addition to providing training for new or inexperienced employees, organisations often provide training programmes for experienced employees whose jobs are undergoing change. Large organisations often have development programmes which prepare employees for higher level responsibilities within the organisation. Training and development programmes provide useful means of assuring that employees are capable of performing their jobs at acceptable levels.

Performance Appraisal: Performance appraisal function monitors employee performance to ensure that it is at acceptable levels. Human resource professionals are usually responsible for developing and administering performance appraisal systems, although the actual appraisal of employee performance is the responsibility of supervisors and managers. Besides providing a basis for pay, promotion, and disciplinary action, performance appraisal information is essential for employee development since knowledge of results (feedback) is necessary to motivate and guide performance improvements.

Career Planning: Career planning has developed partly as a result of the desire of many employees to grow in their jobs and to advance in their career. Career planning activities include assessing an individual employee’s potential for growth and advancement in the organisation.

Compensation: Human resource personnel provide a rational method for determining how much employees should be paid for performing certain jobs. Pay is obviously related to the maintenance of human resources. Since compensation is a major cost to many organisations, it is a major consideration in human resource planning. Compensation affects staffing in that people are generally attracted to organisations offering a higher level of pay in exchange for the work performed. It is related to employee development in that it provides an important incentive in motivating employees to higher levels of job performance and to higher paying jobs in the organisation.

Benefits: Benefits are another form of compensation to employees other than direct pay for work performed. As such, the human resource function of administering employee benefits shares many characteristics of the compensation function. Benefits include both the legally required items and those offered at employer’s discretion. The cost of benefits has risen to such a point that they have become a major consideration in human resources planning. However, benefits are primarily related to the maintenance area, since they provide for many basic employee needs.

Labour Relations: The term “labour relations” refers to interaction with employees who are represented by a trade union. Unions are organisation of employees who join together to obtain more voice in decisions affecting wages, benefits, working conditions, and other aspects of employment. With regard to labour relations, the personnel responsibility primarily involves negotiating with the unions regarding wages, service conditions, and resolving disputes and grievances.

Record-keeping: The oldest and most basic personnel function is employee record-keeping. This function involves recording, maintaining, and retrieving employee related information for a variety of purposes. Records which must be maintained include application forms, health and medical records, employment history (jobs held, promotions, transfers, lay-offs), seniority lists, earnings and hours of work, absences, turnover, tardiness, and other employee data. Complete and up-to-date employee records are essential for most personnel functions. More than ever employees today have a great interest in their personnel records. They want to know what is in them, why certain statements have been made, and why records may or may not have been updated.

Personnel records provide the following:
  1. A store of up-to-date and accurate information about the company’s employees.
  2. A guide to the action to be taken regarding an employee, particularly by comparing him with other employees.
  3. A guide when recruiting a new employee, e.g. by showing the rates of pay received by comparable employees.
  4. A historical record of previous action taken regarding employees.
  5. The raw material for statistics which check and guide personnel policies.
  6. The means to comply with certain statutory requirements.

Personnel Research: All personnel people engage in some form of research activities. In a good research approach, the object is to get facts and information about personnel specifics in order to develop and maintain a programme that works. It is impossible to run a personnel programme without some pre-planning and post-reviewing. For that matter, any survey is, in a sense, research. There is a wide scope for research in the areas of recruitment, employee turnover, terminations, training, and so on. Through a well-designed attitude survey, employee opinions can be gathered on wages, promotions, welfare services, working conditions, job security, leadership, industrial relations, and the like. Inspite of its importance, however, in most companies, research is the most neglected area because personnel people are too busy putting out fires. Research is not done to put out fires but to prevent them.

Research is not the sole responsibility of any one particular group or department in an organisation. The initial responsibility is that of the human resource department, which however should be assisted by line supervisors and executives at all levels of management. The assistance that can be rendered by trade unions and other organisations should not be ignored, but should be properly made use of.

Apart from the above, the HR function involves managing change, technology, innovation, and diversity. It is no longer confined to the culture or ethos of any single organisation; its keynote is a cross-fertilisation of ideas from different organisations. Periodic social audits of HR functions are considered essential.

HR professionals have an all-encompassing role. They are required to have a thorough knowledge of the organisation and its intricacies and complexities. The ultimate goal of every HR person should be to develop a linkage between the employee and the organisation because the employee’s commitment to the organisation is crucial. The first and foremost role of HR functionary is to impart continuous education to employees about the changes and challenges facing the country in general, and their organisation in particular. The employees should know about their balance sheet, sales progress, diversification plans, restructuring plans, sharp price movements, turnover and all such details. The HR professionals should impart education to all employees through small booklets, video films, and lectures.

The primary responsibilities of a human resource manager are:
  1. To develop a thorough knowledge of corporate culture, plans and policies.
  2. To act as an internal change agent and consultant.
  3. To initiate change and act as an expert and facilitator.
  4. To actively involve himself in company’s strategy formulation.
  5. To keep communication lines open between the HRD function and individuals and groups both within and outside the organisation.
  6. To identify and evolve HRD strategies in consonance with overall business strategy.
  7. To facilitate the development of various organisational teams and their working relationship with other teams and individuals.
  8. To try and relate people and work so that the organisation objectives are achieved effectively and efficiently.
  9. To diagnose problems and to determine appropriate solution particularly in the human resources areas.
  10. To provide co-ordination and support services for the delivery of HRD programmes and services.
  11. To evaluate the impact of an HRD intervention or to conduct research so as to identify, develop or test how HRD in general has improved individual or organisational performance.