We all want to feel valued; it is a need embedded in our nature, and plays a huge part in that which keeps us motivated on a daily basis. Often, the role of HR is to make employees feel valued within a company. But what if the value of the Human Resources department is itself called into question?
Most of us have dealt with HR at some stage, but the full potential of the HR department often gets confused, or goes unrecognised. The common perception of HR seems to be limited to making sure staff are hired, paid on time, and made to feel comfortable in their jobs.
Budding new technologies are enabling many routine processes to be automated, whilst specialised, external shared-service organisations can provide many traditional HR functions. The combined result raises the question: ‘have we made internal HR redundant?’
How does the job role of HR function?
We all have a general idea of what HR represents, and are familiar with the typical duties of the Human Resources department within an organisation: HR professionals function as ‘people people’; therefore, they are responsible for hiring (and sometimes firing) employees, and making efforts to retain them with benefits such as annual leave allowance, shares in the company, or fertility benefits. They aslo handle contracts, and sometimes payroll requiremnets.
However these rudimentary HR duties already involve more than first meets the eye. For example, HR are often required to take the appropriate action when a disgruntled former employee files a wrongful termination lawsuit; it is therefore necessary that they keep up to speed with current employee laws to protect their organisations.
Hiring for a modern business, it is not enough to simply post a ‘help wanted’ sign and ask a few general questions; HR responsibilities include creating systems which allow them to attract, hire, train, and retain new employees of a suitable calibre. This involves developing appropriate interview stages and non-discriminatory screening processes, alongside further employee evaluation tools.
Which new ways can HR add value?
As a non-revenue generating component of an organisation’s structure, HR departments often find themselves arguing their case, with many organisations choosing to outsource the responsibilities for a lower cost. However, whilst they may seem like an extra weight to carry, HR departments can prove their overall worth in a number of strategic ways.
A valuable HR department is a proactive one; instead of taking a reactive stance where employment conditions are concerned, modern HR strategies are seeing professionals participate more strongly in planning. But whether orchestrating a radical shift, or a more gradual evolution, HR leadership should function with a strategic eye towards their employees. Within this scope are several functions, such as organisational concerns, common processes, and evaluation of job roles and competencies.
Whilst the department itself may not be one to generate revenue, it can be used as a force for change within an organisation. It can do this by implementing a strategy which streamlines processes, decreases outgoings, and maximises the efficiency of those departments which do generate revenue. Whilst these actions fall outside the traditional remit of Human Resources, when properly executed, they can significantly impact an organisation.
Know your value
In order to add any value of significance to an organisation, a HR department must be allowed to facilitate the greater strategic vision of a business – one which comes from people with close knowledge of the business, and cannot be outsourced or automated. If a company holds its employees in high regard, then the Human Resources department should be at the core of their strategy. By enabling and supporting this vision, the value of a good HR team cannot be overstated.
Human Resources can be a rewarding career path for many, with HR Assistants typically earning around £19k, whilst Human Resource Specialists (circa £35k), and Managers or Generalists (£40-50k) can not only command higher salaries, but help to influence the direction of an organisation through employee strategies.
If you are planning your own strategy around the future of Human Resources, then you may find some inspiration in our MSc Leadership & Human Resource Management or Global MBA (HR Management) programmes.