What is HR? Easy question...right? Well, it depends on whom you ask.
HR is short for Human Resources. People (humans) are resources that are part of an organization’s success, so yes, human resources refers to those particular people resources.
Human Resources, however, is also an area of practice known to address the people element in respect to their employment, capabilities, and well-being within a company or organization – often this is an individual or a department.
Still to this day I hear reference to Human Resources (HR) with a very old-school lens. “they are responsible for hiring and firing”, “let HR deal with it”, “HR won’t let us do it”, “don’t tell HR”.
The practice of HR in most organizations however has evolved so much beyond this; it is no longer the office in the basement with ‘Personnel’ written on the fluted-glass windowed door.
HR’S CRITICAL ROLE IN AN ORGANIZATION’S SUCCESS
HR can play a critical role in helping companies succeed, whether it plays a role that is transactional, relational, and/or strategic. There absolutely is a need for transactional activities; vacation and leave tracking, payroll, benefits, time and attendance, etc.., however where HR can make the most impact in an organization is its role in building or strengthening culture, employee engagement, performance, and retention.
While HR may not necessarily perform the daily activities associated with building or strengthening employee engagement, performance, and retention (that is a supervisor’s responsibility) they can play a key role in creating the programs, systems, and training that supervisors access and use in managing their people.
Throughout my career I have found that supervisors want to be the best managers of people that they can be, however this competency is not always intuitive. This gap creates a great opportunity for HR practitioners to really make an impact by providing the support, tools and guidance needed for supervisors’ sustainable success.
Other areas where HR practitioners can really have impact is by ensuring that the organization they work for has the right fundamentals in-place. Well-written policies, employee handbooks, employee agreements, forms, letter templates, engaging orientation and onboarding programs, employee recognition programs, employee well-being, equity and diversity programs, and of course, ensuring that compliance requirements are being met around human rights, health and safety, and accommodation. Without quality resources, organizations open themselves up to risk, with sometimes significant repercussions.
HR FOR HR
Often business owners, office managers, or others who wear and HR hat as part of their job, or HR professionals themselves, need support. They may not have the time, resources, or expertise to create everything that is needed to have HR done-well. There are many resources that can be found online – however be careful that they are compliant in your region, and professionally prepared. A bad solution can often be worse than no solution.
Firms that have programs, tools, and other resources specifically designed for your business type, are professionally prepared, are affordable, and come with support to quickly and successfully launch them in your organization, can often be the right solution for starting or upgrading your HR. A great example of this is TAP’s Your Essential HR Toolkit. It is just one such resource, so choose the one that is right for you.
Bruce Weippert is the co-founder and president of TAP Strategy & HR Consulting, a boutique-style management consulting firm specializing in strategy, HR services and Helping Businesses Succeed.