The Five Essential Functions of Human Resources

Five Essential Functions-World Executives Digest
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WorldExecutivesDigest|The Five Essential Functions of Human Resources|Regardless of the size of the company, a human resources department is critical to its success. Even having a single, dedicated human resources employee can make a huge difference in how your workplace functions. From training to conflict resolution, we’ll look at the important tasks that are overseen by HR professionals.


There are very few, if any, jobs in which it’s possible to fully hit the ground running on day one. Even if the employee is highly trained and highly skilled, they are new to the company and need to understand policies, best practices, and your workplace culture trends. These can be as simple as the way pay periods and vacation schedules work, or more complex like industry specific certifications and regulations. The HR manager is the “keeper of the keys” to all these items. In larger companies they are also responsible to be the liaison between the local office and corporate headquarters, enforcing the employee handbook.

Benefits Management 

When employees have questions about benefits like insurance, paid-time off, FMLA, or pay raise schedules, the HR officer is generally the go-to person to help them. This is an area that varies greatly depending on what your company offers, regulations in your state, and your benefits management company, if you have one. A company typically will have an annual or semi-annual open enrollment period, in which staff members can make any changes to their coverage they like. This means someone must be thoroughly trained on the process of signing up and making changes, as well as the differences in offerings from year to year. 

An Open Door

In many places, “HR” is synonymous with “rules of the office.” This includes appropriate dress, and language in the workplace. Some see this as a negative, restricting freedom of expression or enforcement of political correctness. Think of it from a legal perspective, however. Businesses need to show that they are in compliance with state and federal regulations about non-discriminatory employment, as well as enforcing laws against harassment and retaliation. While one would certainly hope that these issues wouldn’t arise in a professional, adult environment, the reality is that they do.If an employee feels like they are the victim of discrimination or harassment, they need to have a channel through which they can appropriately file a complaint or express their concern. The company’s CEO may be sympathetic to them, but with their typical broad set of responsibilities, they may not be up-to-date on their understanding of workplace law and policies. And, unfortunately, it is not uncommon for the CEO to be at the center of HR complaints for one reason or another. Therefore, an HR officer or manager should be the designated person to handle personal issues at the workplace with an “open door” policy.

This doesn’t apply solely to issues between employees. A team member may be going through a difficult personal issue like a divorce or the death of a loved one. HR can advise them of their rights, and the company’s policies towards leave and support.


Finally, businesses need to have a point person to oversee training and compliance. An HR officer is the most logical person to be in this position, as they will have access to training materials as they come down from corporate entities, and personnel files for the entire staff. This may apply to on-boarding, continuing education, or the adaptation of new software or best practices. Many companies also require security training that revolves around recognizing cyber-threats or similar risks. A dedicated human resources professional can communicate expectations and deadlines and serve as a conduit for questions and concerns.  Small companies may try to forego having a human resources manager to cut costs and larger companies may try to roll these responsibilities into the job description of a business manager or other executive. While every company has its own unique structure, the reliance on a dedicated human resources staff can universally improve workplace culture and efficiency.