[Note: This is the first of a two-part series on the role of an HR manager in good and bad times. With the upsurge of economic crisis and troubled times ahead, the role of HR managers is constantly evolving. Before going ahead with the do’s and dont’s in times of crisis, let’s get back to the basics and take a brief overview at the core functions of an HR manager. Do use the comments section below to share your thoughts.]
With advancement in technology, conventional methods are being replaced by new-age techniques. Globalization is on the rise and companies are spreading out all around the world, no longer restricted by geographical barriers. Economies are rising and falling and evolving continuously. Adding to the turmoil are stringent laws and regulations passed, leading to a constant void waiting to be filled with effective policies that follow all the legal guidelines and at the same time are not compromising on the organization’s survival. In the midst of all this, is a function necessary, but minimally looked upon – the human resource function. In a quest to integrate the operations and strategies of a business across a wide array of products, services, ideas, and cultures, the role of human resource managers is constantly evolving. HR managers, who were once confined to handling basic data work and routine record keeping amongst employees, are now exposed to an evolving nature of diverse workforce complexities, legal obligations, and strategic management of the organizational goals.
With that background, first let’s shed some light on the conventional HR functions and the traditional role of HR managers:
This is the one function which is hand in glove with HR. Recruitment has been one of the major responsibilities of the HR team. It is the job of HR personnel to plan and devise strategic campaigns and guidelines for recruiting suitable candidates for a required job description. They also have to serve as a mediator between the employer and the candidate and communicate company policies and terms of the contract to the candidate before he is hired. This is the first pillar of HR management that every HR manager starts with. It’s probably one of the most important aspects of any HR professional’s career. The recruitment function comprises 2 main objectives:
1) Attract Talent
Attracting talent starts with first planning the requirement of manpower in the organization. Gauging needs of the organization’s human resource requirements, and accordingly putting a plan of action to fulfill those needs with placement of “talented professionals”. That’s followed by creating an “employer brand” which will be representative of the organization’s good image and portray an attractive impression in the minds of potential candidates.
The employer branding aspects have become very important owing to the new-age media and awareness of employee rights. Putting the best foot forward is no longer enough, it needs to be followed through with honest actions in favor of the employees. And finally… the HR manager needs to them create detailed recruitment strategies carry out the hiring process.
2) Hire Resources
This is where the recruitment strategies are put in action. In the current age, there’s ton of competition vying for the attention of the best talent in the market. The HR manager needs to run all possible engines to go out there in the market and find that one suitable gem.
This part of the role includes things like finding relevant locations to look in, reach out to maximum potential candidates using mass communication mediums, aggregate all responses, filter out irrelevant applications, judge suitable incumbents and coordinate internally to get them interviewed. Once the finalists are decided, the HR manager turns into a ‘negotiator’ of sorts, working as a mediator between the company and the candidate to find that win-win ground.
Not all is done once you’ve recruited a suitable candidate for the job. Many organizations perform tasks a tad differently. Training employees is important to help the new hires get acquainted with the organization’s work pattern. It is imperative for the HR department to incorporate a training program for every new employee based on the skill set required for their job. It will further also contribute towards employee motivation and retention.
For the training to be effective, every new employee can be subjected to an on-the-job training for the initial days to get him in sync with the work guidelines of the organization. This training will not only be of assistance to the employee but also give the HR team an insight into the employee’s workmanship. On completion of the training, HR plays a significant role in assessing the results of the training program and grading employees on the same.
Closely related to training, developing your employees professionally is an added bonus for the employee as well as the organization. Enrolling the employee to attend conferences, trade shows, seminars etc that may be in his personal interest will make the employee feel cared-for and a vital part of the organization, thus increasing employee engagement. It will be beneficial to the organization by way of the employee’s added skill set.
In short, it is a win-win. It is the HR head’s job to get to know the employee’s hobbies and areas of interest and look out for opportunities that will help them build onto those hobbies. For example, if an employee wants to master the technique of SEO, the HR could enroll him for seminars and conferences that talk on the same. However, this should not turn out to be a selfish attempt that benefits the organization only.
Since HRM is a body meant for the employees, carrying out timely performance appraisals is a given. Performance appraisals help in employee motivation by encouraging them to work to their fullest potential. It also enables to give them feedback on their work and suggest necessary measures for the same. This helps employees to have a clear view of what is expected of them and what they are delivering. They can thus, work better towards improving their performance and achieving targets.
The role of HR (especially the HR manager) in this would be to have a policy of generating timely appraisal reports and a review of the same by the authorities. The HR team should communicate individually with employees and give a clear feedback or suggestion on their performance. A system to reward employees excelling at their work would help in employee motivation and thus garner a higher degree of productivity and employee engagement.
Maintaining Work Culture
It is the duty of the HR to maintain a healthy, safe, and fun work environment to ensure a level of comfort amongst the employees and eliminate any stressful or awkward atmosphere that may hinder the performance of the staff. It is vital to have an efficient work atmosphere, because an individual’s performance a largely dependent on the surrounding he’s working in.
It would be great to have an open-door policy up to some extent wherein employees can freely communicate and voice their opinions to be given consideration. The HR department’s role is to be a friendly body with an open attitude. By communicating and treating every employee as equal, the HR can build a rapport with the employees. This goes a long way in increasing employee engagement and gives a higher job satisfaction.
Where different people have different views, conflicts are almost inevitable. Whether the dispute is amongst two or more employees or between the employee and the management, an HR manager has the right to intervene and help map out a solution.
The HR should be available at the disposal of the conflicting parties and hear out their issues without being judgmental. Prior investigations are a must before passing any judgment. The HR head is not expected to discriminate or play favorites in this matter and always deliver an unbiased and practical decision. A reimbursement in case of any loss caused and strict actions against the defaulter should be practiced for effective conflict resolution by the HRM.
The Human Resources is called so because its major responsibility is dealing with the human part of the organization and this involves having great interpersonal skills. An HR manager who sits in the office all day will not turn out to be good at building connections with the employees and thus fail to serve the purpose of being an HR head. As an HR person, employees should feel comfortable coming up to you with their problems and for that, it is important that the HR team builds a good public image within the organization.
The HR team has to be proactive and know their employees. An HR personnel’s job is not a desk job altogether. The HR head’s role is to establish the trust and confidence of the employees and not have a “don’t mess with me” demeanour. He should be looked upon as both an HR expert and an employee advocate.
Rewards and Incentives
Rewarding the employees for a work well done imparts motivation and at the same time induces a desire to excel at tasks in hope of obtaining rewards. It serves as bait for inculcating a healthy competitive environment amongst employees to achieve targets and meet deadlines. A reward need not be materialistic always. It could just be a word of appreciation in front of all coworkers for a menial task done with complete honesty.
However, with globalization and evolving trends, compensations like holiday packages, pay incentive, bonuses, and promotion are taking a backseat. If as an HR manager you are wanting to reward your employees efficiently, it’s time you adapt new ways of awarding benefits such as flexible work times, paternity leave, extended holidays, telecommuting etc. These non-traditional rewards will prove fruitful not only in engaging existing workforce but also as an added benefit to attract new talent to your organization.
This may seem the least glamorous of all, but is an important aspect of the HRM. An HR manager should always be in compliance with the law. Whether it’s drafting new policies or writing terms of a contract, it is the HR department’s job to build guidelines keeping the laws in mind. This ensures an organization’s continued growth and existence. While drafting policies, the HR should always ensure to be at an upper hand legally and keep the organization’s practices in tune with the labor laws, tax laws, permissible working hours, minimum wages, and a no-discrimination policy.
An HR head is responsible for organizing all functions of the organization. To start with, it includes employee on-boarding, i.e. welcoming new employees. It is a must for every HR head to carry out an induction for every new hire, and give them an orientation regarding the company policies and rules.
The HR personnel should also introduce the new employees to their colleagues and assign them a mentor. It also involves listing out job expectations and defining roles and responsibilities, thus getting the new employees in tune with the working of the organization. The HR personnel are also responsible for organizing and storing all employee data efficiently and keeping it secure.
Management is the most important job of an HR manager. It is what defines a good HR manager. Management extends right from managing employees to managing the employers and the whole HR department as well.
The role of an HR manager is to manage, create, implement and supervise policies/regulations, which are mandatory for every employee and also have knowledge of its appropriate functioning. Monitoring attendance and tracking leaves forms a major chunk of the HR management function. There should be a proper management of the clock-in/out time to avoid late arrivals and track overtimes and half-days. As mentioned before, the HR as a department should also be well managed by the HR head. If the HR department itself is in a state of chaos, it cannot serve as a peacemaker for the other departments.
Once all the attendance monitoring, leave tracking, clock in/outs etc is tracked and monitored, it’s time for the most important aspect–calculating the payroll. Efficient calculation of salaries, wage-cuts, reimbursements, and generation of pay slips amounts to the role of HR managers in payroll management.
The HR manager should maintain transparency and provide the employees with information as and when asked. The HR should ensure not only accurate calculations of salaries but also timely transfer of the same. They also have an obligation towards exiting employees in settlement of dues and compensations.
According to research, the human part of your organization tallies up to 80 per cent of your organization’s assets; reason enough for you to QC your human resource function. To build a team of professionals, it is of utmost importance to have an equally professional and well-managed HR department. A slipshod HR function will cost your organization’s future and compromise on its achievements. To summarize, the role of an HR manager is to maintain law and order in the organization and amongst the employees, which further extends to attracting, engaging and retaining top talent.
It’s high time to direct the people who are responsible for giving direction to everyone else.
Namrata is the marketing and content specialist at sumHR. Currently pursuing her MBA, she has a knack for writing with a tinge of humor. Part of her day is spent thinking what to write, and the rest of it, wondering what on earth has she written! (the end results are quite surprising though).