The human resources function includes two key areas, HR activities and HR practices. Both must work together to enable an HR department to operate in a streamlined manner within a company. HR practices involve mostly the strategic operations of HR, including planning, organizing and managing the department. HR activities include the tactical and daily operations involved with running an HR department.
HR practices comprise the strategic operations of an organization. These include the mission and goals of the HR department and how those goals align with corporate goals and policies. HR practices are carried out through employees. Employees are motivated through personal practices or a personal mission and goal, but they also align themselves with a department mission or practice. This in turn is linked with corporate objectives to help an organization succeed in carrying out its big-picture mission.
HR activities are the day-to-day activities that are carried out within an HR department. These may include recruitment, selection, training, payroll, surveys, employee relations and benefits administration. HR activities allow the mission and goals of the department to be carried out using activities and various methods or vehicles that are readily available and accessible. Employees within an organization engage with one another in activities that reflect the strategies developed by HR best practices.
An organization cannot function by using HR practices or activities; both are necessary to streamline tasks and functions. Typically, most organizations first plot their strategic goals and objectives and then put them into action using activities. At some point, most organizations survey employees and sometimes clients to determine how well the strategic plan is working. The results of this survey may trigger a reorganization or the development of new practices. New activities may develop as a result. An HR department is always active with new activities and practices as an organization aspires toward continuous development and improvement.
The human resources function as a whole serves to support organizational best practices, including the strategic goals and mission of the organization. Often HR departments carry out recruiting and activities for an entire organization, which may consist of multiple departments, or only one department in the case of small organizations. The complexity of the activities or practices side of a HR department depends on the size of the organization. Regardless of company size, HR works in conjunction with the organization as a whole to support the internal organizational structure and the personnel management of the organization.