Human resource management refers to the management of human capital – employees who contribute to the achievement of business goals. Several human resource functions and practices help managers attract and retain employees, operate within the boundaries of state and federal laws, and plan for future organizational needs. Some companies have a dedicated human resources department, while other companies rely on one person to carry out these responsibilities.

Pay and Compensation Management

The compensation function helps balance the budgetary needs of an organization with the need to use competitive compensation to attract and retain employees. Compensation analysts and managers develop job descriptions, set compensation levels for hourly and salaried positions, communicate with employees regarding compensation issues and determine how much it will cost to compensate employees.

Selecting and Administering Benefits

Some companies offer health insurance, life insurance, disability coverage, tuition reimbursement, flexible spending accounts and other benefits in order to attract and keep employees. Benefits professionals prepare for the open benefits enrollment period, select benefit providers, pay monthly benefit premiums, answer employee questions related to benefits, conduct presentations to educate employees about benefits, maintain employee benefits files and comply with state and federal laws related to benefits administration.

Recruitment and Selection

The recruitment and selection function ensures that organizations have qualified employees. The hiring process starts when a manager identifies an open position within the organization. The recruiter places a job advertisement that lists the duties and qualifications of the position, screens applications as they arrive and selects candidates to interview. Recruitment professionals also administer pre-employment tests, conduct background checks and make employment offers to selected candidates.

Skills Monitoring and Training

Training helps employees learn new information, reinforce existing knowledge and learn additional skills. The training department coordinates new employee orientation, which helps new hires grow accustomed to the policies and practices of the company. Existing employees also benefit from the training function in the form of seminars, workshops and presentations designed to reinforce existing skills and teach new skills. Training professionals carry out the tasks necessary to design and deliver these training programs.

Strategic Human Resource Management Practices

Strategic planning allows human resources professionals to align department activities with the overall goals of the organization. This function involves activities that contribute to the growth of a business. Compensation professionals participate in strategic planning by analyzing existing compensation plans, forecasting trends in compensation and determining how changes in the compensation field will affect the organization.

Recruitment professionals participate in succession planning, which refers to the process of identifying employment openings and carrying out activities designed to fill those openings. Training professionals participate in strategic planning by offering training programs that prepare employees to fill future staffing needs.

Human resources professionals must abide by state and federal employment laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, Family Medical Leave Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, National Labor Relations Act and Fair Labor Standards Act. HR professionals who engage in this function maintain legal files and ensure that company decisions comply with applicable laws. This reduces the risk of lawsuits based on a lack of compliance with employment and labor laws.

Ongoing Performance Management

HRM practices help employees and managers improve the effectiveness of an organization. This involves setting work expectations, monitoring employee performance, helping employees improve their performance, appraising performance and rewarding good performance. Performance management professionals develop performance appraisal tools and conduct employee performance reviews.