Similar to other department managers, a human resource manager has two basic functions: overseeing department functions and managing employees. For this reason, a human resources manager must be well-versed in each of the human resources disciplines – compensation and benefits, training and development, employee relations, and recruitment and selection. Core competencies HR managers have are solid communication skills and decision-making capabilities based on analytical skills and critical thought processes.
Services to employees – the company’s internal customers – must be efficient, accurate and timely. Services such as benefits administration and payroll processing are major components of this HRM competency because they support large-scale human resource programs such as performance management and compensation practices.
HR Strategic Partnership
Alignment between human resource goals and organizational goals happens when there exists a strategic partnership between human resource management and the company’s leadership. The HRM competency most effective in developing a strategic partnership is the ability to produce human resources metrics — or measurements — that demonstrate a return on investment in HR department activities and functions. For example, lobbying executive leadership to invest in a costly applicant tracking system to create a more efficient recruitment and selection would require justifying the expense through demonstrating a return on investment. The usual return on investment for an applicant tracking system is the reduction in the costs to hire and process new employees. Applicant tracking systems automate recruitment and selection processes that would have typically required staff time and expense. Strategic alliances are worth the time they take to build, but they require forward-thinking management principles.
Staying abreast of human resource best practices is an effective way to maintain HRM competencies pertaining to processes, employment trends and procedures for the delivery of services to employees and external HR customers. External HR customers include applicants, former employees, vendors and suppliers. Recruitment and selection steps, workplace investigation procedures and safety and risk management measures are among the human resources processes that comprise this HRM competency.
Without human resource oversight, companies could be liable for exorbitant legal fees, penalties and fines. In addition, noncompliance with labor and employment laws can cause irreparable damage to the company’s business reputation. Compliance and audit are critical HRM competencies – human resource department staff must maintain up-to-date knowledge of federal, state and municipal employment regulations and ensure the company demonstrates a commitment to fair employment practices. Maintaining current knowledge of laws and regulations should also include the ability to determine how pending legislation can impact the human resources field and the employment landscape.
Long-range planning for employee training and development is an HRM competency and a key component in succession planning. Succession planning prepares the current workforce for increasingly responsible roles using promotion-from-within policies. Workforce planning and development prepares the organization for projected demands for the company’s products and services. An essential HRM competency is the ability to conduct and analyze needs assessments for future workforce skills and capabilities. Looking at current employees’ skill sets and using that information to determine what type of training or employee development is necessary requires knowledge of workforce planning and delivery of training. This HRM competency helps the organization achieve or maintain a competitive edge and industry status by readying it for employment trends and the availability of workers. HR development also positions the organization to become an employer of choice through long-range planning activities that include innovative recruitment, selection and talent management. Talent management is a human resources concept that refers to the breadth and depth of human capital – also known as employee expertise – which is an employer’s most valuable resource.
Human resource managers have strategic and functional responsibilities for all of the HR disciplines. A human resource manager has the expertise of an HR generalist combined with general business and management skills. In large organizations, a human resource manager reports to the human resource director or a C-level human resource executive. In smaller companies, some HR managers perform all of the department’s functions or work with an HR assistant or generalist that handles administrative matters. Regardless of the size of department or the company, a human resource manager should have the skills to perform every HR function, if necessary.
Compensation and Benefits
Human resource managers provide guidance and direction to compensation and benefits specialists. Within this discipline, human resources managers develop strategic compensation plans, align performance management systems with compensation structure and monitor negotiations for group health care benefits. Examples of human resource manager responsibilities include monitoring Family and Medical Leave Act compliance and adherence to confidentiality provisions for employee medical files. Human resource managers for small companies might also conduct open enrollment for employees’ annual elections pertaining to health care coverage.
Training and Development
Employee training and development includes new hire orientation, leadership training and professional development seminars and workshops. Human resource managers oversee needs assessments to determine when training is necessary and the type of training necessary to improve performance and productivity. Human resource managers responsible for conducting needs assessment have a hands-on role in evaluating overall employee performance to decide if the workforce would benefit from additional training and orientation. They examine employee performance records to identify areas where employees could improve through job skills training or employee development, such as seminars or workshops on leadership techniques.They also play an integral role in implementing employee development strategy and succession planning based on training and professional development. Human resource managers responsible for succession planning use their knowledge of employee development, training and future business needs to devise career tracks for employees who demonstrate the aptitude and desire for upward mobility.
Although the employee relations specialist is responsible for investigating and resolving workplace issues, the human resource manager has ultimate responsibility for preserving the employer-employee relationship through designing an effective employee relations strategy. An effective employee relations strategy contains specific steps for ensuring the overall well-being of employees. It also ensures that employees have a safe working environment, free from discrimination and harassment. Human resource managers for small businesses conduct workplace investigations and resolve employee complaints. Human resource managers may also be the primary contact for legal counsel in risk mitigation activities and litigation pertaining to employee relations matters. An example of risk mitigation handled by a human resource manager includes examining current workplace policies and providing training to employees and managers on those policies to minimize the frequency of employee complaints due to misinterpretation or misunderstanding of company policies.
Recruitment and Selection
Human resource managers develop strategic solutions to meet workforce demands and labor force trends. An employment manager actually oversees the recruitment and selection processes; however, an HR manager is primarily responsible for decisions related to corporate branding as it relates to recruiting and retaining talented employees. For example, a human resource manager in a health care firm might use her knowledge about nursing shortages to develop a strategy for employee retention, or for maintaining the current staffing levels. The strategy might include developing an incentive program for nurses or providing nurses with cross-training so they can become certified in different specialties to become more valuable to the organization. Corporate branding as it relates to recruitment and retention means promoting the company as an employer of choice. Human resource managers responsible for this usually look at the recruitment and selection process, as well as compensation and benefits to find ways to appeal to highly qualified applicants.