An effective human resources department consists of both strategic and administrative HR duties, as both are required to operate a business. Strategic HR duties are typically proactive, whereas administrative HR duties tend to be more reactive. The easiest way to differentiate between the two types of HR functions is to look at the impact each task has on the company’s overall strategic business plan. Administrative duties, while important, generally have little to no effect on organizational change, while strategic duties focus on process improvements.

Recruitment and Selection

Your business’s HR department performs both strategic and administrative tasks during the recruitment and selection process. Pre-screening candidates, coordinating interviews and administering employment assessments are considered administrative duties. Activities such as researching and implementing applicant tracking software, revising the hiring process to recruit a higher talent level or restructuring job descriptions to ensure they best contribute to the company’s business goals are strategic tasks.


HR professionals take on an administrative role in the benefits process when performing tasks such as responding to employees’ questions regarding benefits options, facilitating open enrollment, conducting general plan maintenance and performing monthly insurance bill audits. Strategic benefits-related tasks, however, include analyzing health insurance data to improve employer wellness program initiatives, shopping around for competitive benefits vendors and finding new and effective ways of educating employees about the company’s available benefits options.


To remain competitive in the job market while staying with your budget, the human resources department must review average market rates regularly and use this information to devise a compensation model that is both competitive and budget-friendly. This portion of the compensation process is considered a strategic function. Administrative tasks associated with compensation include data entry of salary changes, responding to inquiries regarding salary and preparing job offers using the business’s existing compensation model.

Training and Development

A business’s success is determined by its employees, so it is imperative that each worker has the knowledge and resources needed to perform the job well. The most common way of doing this is through formal training and development classes, usually developed and facilitated by the HR department. Simply creating presentations and scheduling training sessions are administrative roles, whereas conducting training needs assessments and performing succession planning are strategic duties.

Turnover and Retention

When employees leave, an HR rep conducts exit interviews to gather feedback as to why those individuals are resigning, what they liked about your company and what improvements they believe should be made. Once the employees have completed their last day of work, the HR rep completes the necessary separation paperwork to deactivate their work status and ensure their final paychecks and benefits information are processed correctly. These items are considered administrative HR duties. A strategic HR approach entails going a step further by using the feedback provided during the exit interviews to make your company’s compensation, benefits or overall work environment more competitive to reduce future retention levels.