A well-run human resource department that contributes to organizational success is very different from one that resides in the basement archives and only shows up once a year at the company holiday party.

HR might be the most confusing department in your whole organization - everyone knows they're important, but very few employees know why.

What does HR do then?

There is a huge difference between a well-run human resource department that contributes to organizational growth and one that exists in the basement archives but only appears once a year at the company holiday party.

This is a detailed description of the HR department's role (or should be) in meeting the needs of employees.  These suggestions will help ensure that your company has a top-notch HR department.

What is an HR department?

In simple terms, the HR (Human Resources) department is a group who is responsible for managing the employee life cycle (ie, recruiting, hiring, onboarding, training, and firing employees) and administering employee benefits.

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What do human resources do?

Ask any employee about the HR department and they will tell you that it primarily deals with the most unpleasant aspects of work, such as HR violations, layoffs and firing.  Human resources are there to help employees.  It is literally a resource that supports people.

These are just a few of the many tasks that your HR department is occupied with every day.

1.  Recruit candidates

HR must understand the needs of the organization and ensure that they are met when recruiting for new jobs.  This is not as easy as posting an Indeed ad. You will need to research the market, consult stakeholders and manage your budgets.

Once the job is advertised, further research must be done to ensure that the right candidates are being presented and attracted.  The process of recruiting is complex and costly. While the right candidate may be able to revitalize an organization, the wrong candidate could cause chaos.

2.  2. Hire the right people

Human resources are responsible for arranging interviews, co-ordinating hiring efforts and onboarding new employees.  They are also responsible for ensuring that all paperwork is completed and that the process from the initial day through to the last day goes smoothly.

3.  3. Process payroll

Payroll is its own beast.  Payroll is its own beast. Every payday must include hours and taxes.  All expenses must be repaid and all bonuses and raises added in.  It can seem tedious to do taxes once a year. Imagine what it would be like to work in HR, and ensure that they are properly deducted each pay period.

4.  4. Conduct disciplinary actions

This is why HR gets a bad reputation.  If handled incorrectly, disciplinary action can result in the loss of valuable employees and even litigation.  However, when taken properly, disciplinary actions can lead to the success of an employee.

HR can investigate the reasons for tardiness if a company notices a certain employee being consistently late.  This could be an opportunity for HR to offer additional resources or counseling to the employee to help them learn how to be punctual.  It could be an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than putting on the job of replacing that employee.

However, sometimes disciplinary is not the right course of action and the employee should be fired.  Human resources departments are able to tell when an employee isn't the right fit for the company and would be more happy elsewhere.  It's often in an employee's best interests to be fired, no matter how difficult it may seem at the time.  It is up to HR to build a strong relationship with employees and managers to determine the health and cohesiveness of a team.

5.  Update policies

As the organization changes, policies should be reviewed and updated every year.  It is the responsibility of HR to update policies or suggest changes to policies that do not serve the company and employees.  Sometimes, a policy needs to be updated in response to an event.  These decisions should be made with HR in mind.

6.  Keep employee records

The law requires that HR records be kept.  Employers can use these records to identify skills gaps and analyze demographic data to comply with regulations.  These records also include personal information and emergency contact details for each employee.

7.  Conduct benefit analysis

When trying to attract top talent, it is important to remain competitive.  If the benefits are better, a promising recruit might choose to work for a lower-paying company.  HR should regularly investigate similar companies to determine if the benefits are compatible.  Your organization might consider adding pet insurance to its benefits list. Pets can make a big difference in the happiness of employees.

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What does HR do to support employees?

HR is responsible for more than just the seven above examples, which are mainly operational responsibilities. It also has less quantitative functions.

Employees are an organization's greatest asset.  Protecting their well-being should be of paramount importance.  Here are four ways that HR can support employees' career and emotional needs:

1.  Providing career growth

Static is bad for businesses, so it's important to retain your top employees.  To help employees achieve a long-term career, HR can offer career paths.  HR can also check in with employees periodically to help them plan their career paths.

2.  2.Offering continuing education

Sometimes additional training is required to achieve the above mentioned career growth.  You may be eligible for educational assistance from your organization. HR can help you determine the best classes and training programs that would suit your employee's career path.  Managers can also consult HR to make sure that employees have enough flexibility in their work schedule to be able to attend classes.

3.  Supporting and training managers

Managers don't eat naturally.  Managers are created.  HR can provide guidance for managers and ensure that the department and its teams are as functional and healthy as possible.  Managers may be required to attend retreats or formal trainings periodically.

4.  Supporting health and wellbeing

Remember that employees are people.  Employees will need support in dealing with mental illness, financial problems, debt, pregnancies and adoption, as well as other life events.  HR can support employees in these and other situations.

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When should you contact human resources?

A HR department that doesn't interact with employees isn't doing its job.  As you are developing your onboarding process, make sure to educate new employees about how to reach out to HR. Also, what resources HR can offer.  Regular one-on-one interviews should be scheduled by the HR department with employees in order to assess their career progress, their comfort in their jobs, and any other concerns they may have.

These responsibilities should be clear to employees so they feel at ease contacting HR in similar situations.

If you or a coworker are subject to harassment or discrimination by your fellow workers, including your manager

If you have any questions regarding benefits, including company-provided insurance or rights guaranteed under the law,

If your personal circumstances change (eg  You may have a child, need to reduce your work hours, or need accommodation for a disability.

If you have any questions regarding advancing in the company, such as opportunities to shadow employees or take part in additional training,

You need an objective party to help you with a work-related problem

The best HR department

Human resources are a key contributor to a company's culture. If HR is toxic, employees may be discouraged from consulting HR to help with personal or career issues.

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