Operational HR Activities

by Ruth Mayhew; Updated September 26, 2017

There are two kinds of human resources functions: strategic and functional. Strategic human resources functions include developing and implementing long-range management plans. Functional human resources functions include the day-to-day, operational activities that HR generalists and specialists perform, as well as services that HR staff members provide to employees. Operational activities fall into categories parallel to human resources disciplines or areas: recruitment and selection, training and development, workplace safety and risk management, employee relations, and compensation and benefits.

Staffing HR Functions

Not all businesses have a dedicated human resources department; even companies that have a separate HR department may not have several specialists in each area. Employees may perform many of these HR activities whose jobs include other responsibilities in addition to HR tasks, such as an office manager or administrative assistant whose job duties include processing payroll. In smaller-staffed companies, employees who have HR experience, knowledge or expertise may even volunteer for tasks that an HR specialist would typically perform. Still, other employers choose to outsource many of the operational duties to free up time for HR staff to focus on strategic planning rather than tactical functions.

Recruitment and Selection

Employment specialists and recruiters create job postings for vacancies, conduct preliminary interviews and consult with hiring managers on candidate assessments, proper interview techniques and hiring decisions. HR staff members in this discipline also provide current employees with information about interoffice transfers and promotional opportunities.

Training and Development

Operational activities for training and development specialists range from delivering new employee orientation to facilitating leadership training for supervisors and managers. HR staff in this discipline are also responsible for conducting needs assessments. Needs assessments determine what type of training employees need and the most effective ways to provide employee training for job skills, work habits or professional development.

Workplace Safety and Risk Management

Maintaining workplace injury logs, filing reports of worker injuries and fatalities, and coordinating benefits for workers’ compensation claims are a few of the operational activities in this HR area. Activities also include maintaining files and reports on safety issues required by law through the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, such as materials safety data sheets.

Compensation and Benefits

Compensation and benefits activities range from time and attendance recordkeeping to payroll processing and assisting employees with enrollment for benefit plans. Companies that hire separate compensation specialists and benefits specialists usually have clearly defined roles for each. A compensation specialist handles matters related to salaries, wages, incentives and bonuses. Meanwhile, a benefits specialist focuses on processing requests for leaves of absence or health insurance changes due to termination or addition of family members.

Employee Relations

Functional tasks for employee relations staff can include everything from recruitment and selection to compensation and benefits because employee relations issues involve nearly every HR discipline. However, specific employee relations tasks include performing regular walk-throughs to foster relationships with employees in various departments, conducting focus groups or constructing employee opinion survey questions. Employee relations staff also prepare reports for compliance with federal and state employment laws and revise employee handbooks to reflect changes to modify work rules and policies.

About the Author

Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.