THE HUMAN RESOURCES FUNCTION
A Human Resources department is important to the functions of an organization where employee relations and resources are concerned. Simply defined, Human Resources are: “The department or support systems responsible for personnel sourcing and hiring, applicant tracking, skills development and tracking, benefits administration and compliance with associated government regulations” (Entrepreneur, 2014). The Human Resources Function of an organization is directly rooted in the concept of the human relations perspective and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The importance of the Human Resource approach deals primarily with the organizational environment and how the organization can cultivate employee participation that will lead to innovation and creativity. As a result, advancement of organizational goals and position in the global marketplace will occur (Eisenberg, Goodall, and Tretheway, 2014, p. 82).
Human Resources as a title or most importantly as a concept, is the arm of the organization in charge with finding, selecting and training talent to carry out the functions of an organization as well as the gatekeeper of employee benefits. A deeper definition also refers to the aspect “job design” to human resources and providing guidance to management in attracting and keeping top talent in order to remain competitive in the global market (Investopedia, 2014).
WHY HUMAN RESOURCES?
Why would an organization need a Human Resources Department? The reason lies in the fact that the “human resource” is a very fragile and variable resource that changes with social and economic conditions. Maslow’s research showed that a human’s need for self- actualization leads toward an individual reaching his or her full potential. Human Resources is the branch that is concerned with the on-going development and enhancement of that variable and valuable resource as described in the Functions section of this post (Eisenberg, Goodall, and Tretheway, 2014, p. 82).
In my views, the essential functions of a human resources division are static across organizations and do not vary: (1) Recruitment (2) Employee Relations, (3) Compensation and Benefits, (4) Compliance (5) Training and Development and (6) Safety (Mayhew, 2014). All six functions are the foundation for the operation of the organization. Without human resources, does an organization really exist? That question may seem irrational but it actually is a valid point. The movement of the 60s and 70s ushered in these six functions and because of this as Miller (2009) found, the human resources function of an organization is seen as the answer to the classical management approach which treated employees as life-less components of the well-oiled machine of an organization. When in fact, it is the employee who is the incentive for which company decisions are reliant upon (p. 51).
COMPLEXITIES AND REAL-LIFE APPLICATION
If the past ignorance by management regarding the true essence of the value of the organization’s human resources, it seems now the new-found appreciation of the human resource is backfiring on management. It is as if the role of management is becoming secondary and that is due to the powerful purchasing influence possessed by the consumer and that leads to the view that an employee is no longer hired because he or she can take directions well to build a product, but rather how well the employee is able to perform job tasks which produce products which match consumer expectations. A “real-life application” can be found in many companies throughout the world. Today, organizations are zeroed in on the following: self-sufficiency, goal feedback and revision, hands-on management style, direct access, shared culture/mission. These aspects are found among many organizations such as Aramark, Whole Foods, and IBM, UPS and even Facebook). Therefore, the physical assembly line approach is no longer applicable to the efficiency of organization, it is now taking on a deeper, more conceptualized arrangement of job goals and functions and tasks which will meet those goals (Bersin, 2012).
Sadly, it seems the true concept of human resources division of an organization is slowly fading into the past, as human resources is becoming more of an endless cycle of changes due to laws and legislative actions. The “human” in human resources is still emphasized but the need for leadership (i.e. management) seems to be waning. If HR and management is focused on structuring employee and organizational functions, then the HR approach at the organization is truly outdated in an ineffective (Bersin, 2012).
Bersin, J. (2012, March 26). Have traditional human resources practices become out of date. Retreived from: http://www.bersin.com/blog/post/Have-Traditional-Human-Resources-Practices-Become-Out-of-Date.aspx
Eisenberg, E.M., & Goodall, H.L. & Tretheway, A. (2014). Organizational communication: balancing creativity and constraint. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press.
Human Resources. (n.d.) In Entrepreneurship, Retrieved November 2, 2014 from http://www.entrepreneur.com/encyclopedia/printthis/human-resources
Human Resources (HR). (n.d.) In Investopedia, Retrieved November 2, 2014, from http://www.entrepreneur.com/encyclopedia/human-resources
Mayhew, R. (2014). Six main functions of a human resources department. Small Business Chron. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/six-main-functions-human-resource-department-60693.html.
Miller, K. (2009). Organizational communication: Approaches & processes. (5th ed.). NY: Wadsworth. Chapter 3.