Core HR Functions and Different Human Resource Specialities

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The human resources (HR) team in an organisation plays a significant role in the organisation's success. HR is responsible for making sure you and your colleagues receive adequate treatment and pay. Whether you're considering pursuing a career path in human resources or researching ways to improve the human resource department of your organisation, it's important to understand HR functions. In this article, we explore ten important hr functions and the different specialities in human resources.

Related: How To Write a Human Resources Cover Letter

10 important HR functions in an organisation

Below are 10 typical HR functions in a company:

1. Recruitment and staffing company personnel

HR is usually responsible for recruiting new staff to a company. For senior roles, colleagues from the specific area may conduct interviews, but HR usually takes the lead on the initial advertising and recruiting for the role. This includes functions such as :

  • writing and posting job adverts

  • screening CVs and cover letters

  • establishing the correct salary for the role

  • contacting headhunters or recruiters

  • conducting initial phone interviews and testing

  • complying with ethical hiring practices

HR also plays a role in orientation when the new hire starts at the company. This includes taking details for payroll and tax purposes.

Read more: Essential HR Skills

2. Employee benefits and compensation

Human resources determine the compensation of different employees in the organisation. Their duties require them to measure the competitive pay practice with the value an employee offers to the company and calculate their appropriate pay rate. They check to see if the company can afford to pay the said amount and negotiate possible benefits instead of money when this is not possible. Likewise, they also decide whether an employee's hourly wages or monthly salary.

Some benefits a company can offer its employees include:

  • health insurance

  • holiday leave

  • family leave

  • sick leave

  • retirement accounts

An efficient human resources team knows the different employee benefits programmes and chooses the most suitable ones for their organisation. They use these employee benefit packages to attract the right candidates and retain their best talents.

3. Performance evaluation and management

Every position in an organisation has specific job responsibilities and functions. The human resources team often assesses an employee's performance and commitment to their duties using different factors such as quality, job value, responsibility and qualification. They also make use of cloud-based platforms, like employee performance appraisal software, which allows several people in the workforce to assess a particular employee.

The human resource team reviews the result and gives the employee valuable feedbacks to enable their improvement. Evaluations like this help to confirm that employees are productive and effectively engaged in the workplace.

4. Employee participation and communication

Organisations that promote employee participation and communication often enjoy increased profits. Human resources create a work environment that engages the employees and keeps them active in the organisation. One strategy adopted by the human resource team to achieve this is effective communication. They relate the company's goals and objectives to the employees and encouraging them to give feedback regarding their experiences while executing their tasks.

Likewise, they also conduct company retreats aimed at improving working relations between employees and the employer.

5. Training and development of employees

Companies can meet their targets when they effectively equip their employees to carry out their responsibilities. Human resources provide orientation courses to onboard new employees and also train promoted staff members to know their newly assigned duties. They also provide professional development programmes that enhance employees' professional acumen and career, such as:

  • Advanced negotiation skills

  • Stress management

  • Emotional intelligence at work

  • Building confidence and assertiveness at work

  • Handling pressure and improving performance

6. Labour relations

Human resources in unionised work environments often coordinate with trade unions, defend employee rights and mediate between parties if a conflict arises. They serve as the voice of the employees to the company and contribute to issues regarding the welfare of the employees. Upon the hiring of new employees, human resources educate them on the company's code of conduct and ensure that they understand the information included in the company handbook. Depending on the company's tolerance policy, human resources also take disciplinary actions when employees flout the company policies.

7. Health and safety of employees

Human resources play a huge role in maintaining a safe and healthy work environment in an organisation. They collaborate with safety and risk specialist to ensure maximum protection and safety of employees. Some ways they achieve this task include implementing safety measures upon the change of existing laws, ensuring compliance with the necessary legal requirement, negotiating safety measures with employers, government and trade unions.

8. Organisational structure

An organisational structure outlines how different departments in an organisation carry out activities towards the actualisation of the company's goals and objectives. This includes the dissemination of information and how the management expects the employees to execute their responsibilities in the organisation. The human resource department works in collaboration with the management team to plan the company's goals and visions. For example, the HR team may recommend using specific kinds of reward and objective structures throughout the company, such as SMART goals.

Related: Hierarchical Structures: Definition, How it Works and Examples

9. General administration

The general administration of an organisation is yet another central task of the human resource team. They need good team coordination skills to effectively collaborate with the management, employees and relevant unions to avoid futuristic problems. The personnel procedure involves handling disciplinary proceedings, managing promotions, relocations, harassment and cultural, gender and racial diversities in the workplace.

While human resources information system involves storing an employee's details and performance data to aid in making informed decisions. To execute this task, many human resources teams make use of Excel spreadsheets while others use human resources management software which saves time by automatically saving necessary information.

Related: Management Skills: Definitions and Examples

10. Labour law compliance

Various local and national labour law exists to protect the employees in a workplace. This includes anti-discrimination laws, procedures for terminating an employee's contract and the maximum number of hours an employee can work. There are other laws that exist to protect the general public, such as safety regulations in building projects which ensure the safety of the occupants and the public.

Every organisation has a responsibility to obey these labour and employment laws, and the human resource department is critical to their compliance. Noncompliance with these laws can be lead to employee complaints, lack of job satisfaction, unsafe working environments and fines from the relevant authorities. HR departments are often responsible for proving this compliance to external auditors.

Different human resource specialities

Due to the diversity of their roles, the human resources department of a company may have different departments. Here are seven human resources specialities you can specialise in:

  • Human resources manager: A human resources manager is the director of the human resource department and oversees the activities of the workforce to ensure they align with the company's values and goals. They also develop strategies that can aid in achieving the company's targets.

  • Recruitment and staffing specialists: These are human resource personnel skilled in helping companies identify and select the most suitable applicant for an existing role. They do this by posting job listings, reviewing applications, interviewing and engaging other recruitment techniques used in discovering the perfect candidate.

  • Training and development specialists: These are the team of the human resources department that train and educates new employees on their expected job tasks. They also conduct skill enhancement programmes for existing employees aimed at improving their knowledge, skills and approach to company responsibilities.

  • Compensation and benefits specialist: The compensation and benefits specialist determines the salaries of the employees and calculates wage increase for promoted employees. They also develop benefits packages targeted at attracting and keeping their employees.

  • Employee relations manager: Employee relations managers are skilful in negotiation and mediate conflicts in the workplace. They possess communication, mediation and interpersonal skills that enable them to handle delicate matters.

  • Internal communication specialist: This human resource personnel develops effective communication policies for the company and the workforce. They encourage transparency and collaboration between different departments in the company.

  • Occupational health and safety specialist: Companies whose activities have increased risk potentials for the employee, such as construction, need an occupational health and safety specialist. They monitor the work environment and the activities of the workforce to ensure they comply with safety guidelines that guarantee their protection.


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