Let’s have a look at what the human resources (HR) department of a business or organization is meant to do. You may find this useful the next time you deal with HR people at work, if you are going for a job, or if you are interested in an HR career.

HR officers expected to do more than complete paperwork for new employees and process payrolls. For many companies, a well-run and engaged HR department can provide many benefits to its employees. And while HR jobs don't contribute directly to a company's bottom line, the job can indirectly make a huge difference to the productivity and value of an organization.

Strategic Direction

A company's leaders need someone to help them decide on and execute a vision for the company. This is where HR leadership comes in.

Human resources can provide information on employment trends and the issues and grievances of the employees. Additionally, the department can provide the company's executives with information on how to recruit and maintain a highly-skilled workforce.

Succession planning, career and professional development, training and related activities are all beneficial to ensuring that the company knows where it is going in the coming months and years.

HR also has the ability to review each of your employees' performance and determine where a company is lacking or where it has a strength. These evaluations will also let leaders know who is ready for a promotion or who may be better suited working on a different project or in a different role.

Access for Employees

Employees have questions and, sometimes, they do not want to ask their bosses those questions. HR employees should be depended on to answer those questions, whether they be about compensation, benefits, coordinating leave, or responding to workplace complaints. As the workforce grows, it may be necessary to expand the number of people that are working in an HR department to fully meet the needs of the employees.

Some HR staff members are specialists in employee relations and have expertise in handling the concerns of employees. You can study relevant subjects as part of a business degree with an HR major. They're trained to investigate complaints and resolve a variety of issues, ranging from conflicts between employees and their supervisors to more serious matters such as sexual harassment complaints.

This is sometimes called the customer service responsibility of human resources. The HR department should be accessible to its internal customers -- the company's employees.

Legal Compliance

Keeping up with changes in labor and employment law is important for a business. An HR manager can help a company's leaders both stay abreast of changes in employment law and ensure that the company is meeting any requirements set forth by those laws.

Whether it is related to safety, wages or applicant data, the HR department will ensure that the company is in compliance with labor laws and any reporting obligations that it is bound by.

Staff Development

It is true that HR departments are focused on helping a company succeed. However, to do that, a company must have employees who both want to and have access to career development and training to become better employees.

HR managers can work with employees to reach their work goals and create a road map to reach those goals. As part of performance management, HR can also identify weaknesses that employees may have to help direct them down a specific career path or toward specific training courses and workshops.

Final Remarks

The first meeting point between an employee and a company's HR department is often accompanied by a bunch of paperwork or online forms. But human resources extend far beyond that, which is why one of the most popular business majors is HR management.

The job of the HR department is to bring success to an organization by getting the most from its most valuable asset: its people.

Author's Bio: 

Dr Andrew Lancaster is the founder and director of unicurve.com.

Andrew is an economist who develops study and career guides for university and college students.

In writing about education and careers, he is able to draw on more than 20 years of experience in policy advice and team leadership.