What is Human Resources (HR)? The Ultimate Guide

What is Human Resources (HR)? The Ultimate Guide | Human Resources | Emeritus

What comes to your mind when someone asks you “What is human resources?” Quite possibly, you picture a group of working professionals in charge of hiring the right individuals. Talent acquisition experts who find candidates that complement the organization’s vision, culture, values, and more importantly, the requirements of the respective role. While this is accurate, there is so much more to what Human Resource (HR) professionals do. Read this blog to get an in-depth understanding of the HR career path and how this department has become an integral part of every organization.

How does the HR department work?

Human resources as a term came into existence during the 1960s. At the time, the birth of various ideas had begun to take shape, as the behavior of the organization, and conducting assessments for selection. Moreover, the importance of building labor relations i.e. a relationship between the organization and its employees had also garnered attention. Ever since the human resources team has occupied an increasingly essential position in every organization because it is this department that handles and manages the entirety of things related to employees. In short, the human resources team acts as a liaison between the business leaders and employees.

What are the different roles within the HR department? 

  • Chief HR Officer
  • HR Manager
  • International HR Liaison
  • Employment Manager
  • Labor Relations Manager
  • Training and Development Manager
  • Compensation and Benefits Manager
  • Executive Recruiter
  • HR Analytics Specialist
  • HR Consultant

Through this blog, we will take you through everything that you need to know about human resources, the career path, and courses that will help you excel. Over the years, many new types of roles have come up. The standard ones across companies continue to be HR managers, recruiters, and learning and development officers.

What do HR managers do and why is it important?

“Planning, organizing, directing, controlling procurement, development, compensation, integration, maintenance, and separation of human resources to the end that individual, organizational and social objectives are achieved.”

Edwin Flippo on HR Management

Due to the vast and varied functions that the HR manager performs, this team is often considered “the heart and soul of a business”. Their job role is vital and can aptly be described as the backbone of an organization.

The role may vary across organizations but the common responsibilities include:

  • Select, recruit, and onboard employees
  • Design employee policies
  • Handle compensation and benefits
  • Maintain a healthy and positive work-life balance
  • Ensure the well-being of employees
  • Provide learning and development opportunities
  • Organize training workshops
  • Ensure employees achieve their goals 

Required educational qualifications for HR managers

Those who wish to become an HR manager will need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in HR or any other associated field like education or information technology, finance, and business management (Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). 

Furthermore, pursuing an MBA in HR with a focus on management can also be highly beneficial for business leaders. It can help in gaining knowledge and understanding the needs of organizations and employees. Another advantage of having an MBA is that it will act as a stepping stone in your career. Moreover, it takes about two years to graduate with an MBA in HRM, depending on the university. Many young leaders are also looking at online alternatives to juggle work and study.

With more companies making HR an integral part of their organization, there are diverse HR courses available in the market. Emeritus is one such platform that offers the world’s best online HR courses.

Some of the concepts that HR courses cover include employee training and development, how to keep employees motivated, employee engagement, performance management systems, and HR branding, to name a few. 

What are the required skills for an aspiring HR manager?

While earning the right degrees to qualify for this position is vital, it is equally important to have the appropriate skills. Here are some of the essential skills that an HR manager, must possess:

#1: Top-notch communication skills

Being an excellent communicator is a huge part of being an effective HR manager. Why? Because your job is to constantly interact and speak with employees, both existing and potential. You are required to clearly and effectively share and exchange information with them as you are a representative of the entire organization.

#2: Ability to solve problems

It goes without saying that conflicts and problems are a part of everyday work life, especially for HR folks. It is certainly something that cannot be avoided. As an HR manager, you should know how to handle issues and solve problems. Doing this helps maintain order in the organization and among employees.

#3: Being fair

In addition to being a good communicator, you need to also be a good listener. This helps with being fair and just when making important decisions affecting the organization and employees.

#4: Being organized

As an HR manager, you cannot be disorganized. This role takes care of a variety of functions, which is why it is essential to be systematic and organized; failing, the organization will not function well and smoothly.

#5: Being up-to-date

With the advancement of time and the growing presence of technology and data in almost every field, having technical skills and being aware of all things digital is required. You should have a sound knowledge of HR software and talent management systems.

#6: Strategic and Team Orientation

HR managers can help the organization grow by keeping track of and filling labor requirements, introducing new skills, and making alterations in the outline of compensations. Working towards adding heterogeneous employees to various teams, helping improve teamwork, and understanding teams and employees are all valuable skills to have.

What are the everyday tasks of an HR manager and can they be outsourced?

An HR manager is a bridge between employees and the organization. And so, they have numerous tasks that are a part of their everyday work:

#1: Recruiting employees

Internally or externally hiring employees using various assessment techniques is not an easy task. You need to make sure that the candidate is right for the job and that they will have a positive impact on the company.

#2: Conduct inductions/training

Once employees have been recruited, HR managers conduct training sessions and inductions to help them understand the organization and its role.

#3: Compensation

HR managers make the required decisions pertaining to compensation, incentives, and benefits that are both monetary as well as non-monetary.

#4: Maintaining a healthy work environment

HR managers work towards enhancing the quality of life in an organization; to ensure it is never hostile or toxic. They ensure that no harassment of any kind occurs and that there is a certain level of discipline that is maintained. Moreover, they work towards constantly motivating and encouraging employees. They help build good and strong relationships between employees. They also ensure that safety and welfare within the organization are in line with the labor laws.Upskill in HR

#5: Interacting with different departments

They are required to manage relationships between departments in the organization, come up with solutions when conflicts arise, and even build departments. In fact, they need to engage with the heads of various departments to accumulate data related to their training and staffing requirements.

#6: Looking out for the organization

They are responsible for taking care of and planning benefit programs for employees, making sure that the goals of the company are met, and conceiving an in-depth understanding of policies, corporate plans, mission, culture, and vision.

#7: Coordinating with the Chief HR Officer

They collaborate with the Chief HR Officers to plan, handle, and action various HR activities that align with the company’s overall vision and strategy.

Some human resource requirements of an organization can be outsourced. For example, recruitment, talent management, learning and development, onboarding, or policy design. It is however in the best interests of the company to have in-house HR professionals to monitor these agencies and ensure their services are in compliance with the company’s policies and vision.

How important is the role of HR across industries? 

“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day, you bet on people, not on strategies.”

Lawrence Bossidy

This holds an abundance of truth, and this is one of the many responsibilities of an HR manager. In addition, this ultimately goes to show the importance of having them in an organization. An organization without an HR manager is simply inconceivable. It would not have the right people to meet its goals, and help it grow and/or develop. The manager makes decisions that have a direct impact on the growth and productivity of any business. The absence of an HR department would lead to unsustainable growth and demotivated employees in the long run.

Why is there a demand for the role of an HR manager? Is it a good career path?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of HR managers is projected to grow by 9% from 2020 to 2030. Moreover, the growth rate of jobs in this field is comparable to any other fast-growing function. At present, organizations across the world are constantly in search of competent HR professionals who can partner with businesses in their growth. It is said that the growth of jobs for HR managers over the next decade is looking robust.

In the United States, for example, HR manager roles ranked 35th of 800 other jobs in the country according to new employment-projection data released by BLS and scored by The Wall Street Journal. In short, it is one of the fastest-growing jobs in the country.

Related Content: Is Human Resources (HR) a Good Career?

What is the HR salary range across industries?

Both the compensation and various benefits in this role are based on your educational qualifications, your understanding of this field, and the experience you have. Also, the salary differs from the kind of HR role that you are in.

According to the BLS 2021, the average annual salary for the role of HR managers is $121,220. According to Payscale.com, the salary of 90% of HR managers is under $88,000 and the remaining 10% earn under $41,000.

Considering the varied functions that HR managers handle, this role can seem extremely daunting. But having said that, it can also be satisfying and rewarding. We hope that this article has helped you understand what is human resources and how it is a fast-growing career path.

Can you learn HR skills online?

The short answer is YES. If you plan to take up a course in this field to further your career or you wish to pursue an education in the same before you go on to kick-start your career, click here to check out the available courses. In fact, you can explore our HR courses like HR Management and Skills, Mastering Talent Management: Recruiting, Retaining & Rewarding A+ Talent, Chief HR Officer Programs, and more. These programs are curated by the world’s best universities to help you expand your knowledge and accelerate your career.

Related Content: How to Become a CHRO

Frequently Asked Questions

#1: Can HR managers work from home?

It completely depends on the organization. There are some aspects of their job that can be done from home like recruiting potential employees, training, and executing compensation. However, things like communicating with employees and engaging with them are better done in the office.

#2: Why is the HR field in demand?

HR and the various types of roles within HR are extremely important in every organization. In addition, they make decisions that impact employees and the organization as a whole. Also, through the years, their importance in every sector has only grown.

#3: Is analytics or coding necessary for a career in the field of HR?

HR Analytics is a field within HR that uses talent data to enhance the business as a whole. Also, coding is a preferred approach in HR Analytics. However, they are not mandatory skills.

#4: What are the common misconceptions about HR professionals?

Some of the most common misconceptions are that the only function of HR professionals is to hire employees and listen to complaints; that all HR departments perform the same functions and that they work by themselves and do not need to coordinate with other departments. We hope our article has helped bust these myths!

#5: Difference between HR management and personnel management

While these two terms are often used interchangeably, personnel managers only focus on recruitment, payroll, onboarding, and basic functions. HR managers however treat employees as valued assets and focus on their learning, development, and protection. 

Write to us at content@emeritus.org.

By Annabel George

Enter the world of HR

About the Author

Content Marketing Manager, Emeritus Blog
Manasa is the content ninja that every brand needs. Apart from being an expert in tech-related trends and digital marketing, she has found her calling in edtech. Her 10-year-long tryst with education started with a teaching fellowship for underprivileged children, followed by a stint as an edupreneur. It gave her the perspective she now uses to create impactful content for Emeritus. Manasa loves the life of a digital nomad that allows her to travel and hopes her reels go viral on the Gram.
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