The transition from personnel administration in the 1980s to current day human resources didn't fully address the ways in which HR could become more visible. Many workers see HR as merely a transactional department responsible for little more than processing employees' payroll checks. Improving the visibility of HR begins with integrating HR expertise in management decisions and continues with reshaping employees' perceptions of HR through interaction with employees in more than just disciplinary issues.

Establish the credibility of HR staff. When employees seek assistance from HR staff, give the right information in a timely manner. Employees ask questions about myriad workplace concerns -- health benefits, parking, direct deposit or if they can refer friends and family to apply for work. When the HR staff doesn't know the answer, tell the employee when to expect an answer and follow up with him accordingly.

Conduct new-hire orientation beginning on the employee's first day of work. Some employers wait until the new employee has time to visit his department, introduce himself to co-workers and find his desk. However, conducting new-hire orientation right away creates an HR presence. It also eases the employee into the work environment through learning workplace policies and bonding with other employees in the same orientation class. Orientation is one of the best opportunities for HR to make an impression on new employees that lasts well into their tenure with the company.

Provide expertise to executive leadership about the company's strategic goals. Becoming visible in the workplace isn't limited to HR showing its credibility and importance to employees -- it also means demonstrating to upper management how HR adds value to the organization. Insisting upon a seat at the executive table and functioning as a business partner with other departments, such as finance, IT, operations and administration, is an effective way for HR to improve its visibility. In an article titled "Increasing HR's Visibility and Business Role Within the Organization," HR services provider Pinstripe states, "The power and ability to attract and retain much needed talent and drive performance are vital ways of adding value to the organization, and that role is central to HR."

Walk around the workplace premises and introduce HR staff to employees, especially in companies with 24/7 operations. Modify HR staff schedules to accommodate employees whose work schedules are outside the typical 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday. Open the HR office earlier in the mornings to make its services available to employees who work the overnight shift. Extend HR office hours past the typical quitting time so that workers who arrive for later shifts have access to HR staff. Improving employee access to HR services is essential to creating a visible HR department and function.

Train HR specialists cross-functionally so they can better serve HR's internal customers -- the company's employees. Provide training to specialists in benefits, employee relations, safety and recruitment to enable staff members to address a wider range of employees issues than in just their respective areas. Create HR generalists out of the HR specialists' workforce. For example, create job shadow opportunities for benefits specialists and employee relations specialists to observe each others' job functions.