HR deals with an extensive range of functions that touch every stage of the employee lifecycle.
Throughout all its activities, HR must make sure the company complies with all aspects of employment law such as key legislation like the Equality Act 2010. But its function goes beyond creating and enforcing policies and procedures for compliance purposes. HR is actively involved in bringing those policies and procedures to life and communicating them in a way that enables the organisation to get maximum benefit from them.
HR professionals are involved in ensuring best practice across the organisation in areas such as diversity, equality and inclusion, and facilitating a great culture where employees are motivated to perform to their maximum potential. While there will be variations from company to company, these are some of the main functions that HR will typically be involved in.
The 10 main functions of HR
1. Recruitment and selection
HR is responsible for most aspects of recruitment and selection. That includes creating job descriptions, person specifications and recruitment marketing materials like job adverts. They’ll also identify the most appropriate selection methods (typically things like interviews, assessment centres and testing) and be involved in carrying them out.
Once the decision’s been made, HR will then be involved in putting together the job offer and making sure everything is covered from a contractual perspective. They are also likely to be responsible for following up references and carrying out all necessary pre-employment checks to make sure that the candidate they are offering to can be legally employed. And it’s normally HR who will play a big part in the induction too.
2. Working patterns, hours and leave
Management of working patterns, hours and leave covers a whole range of responsibilities including dealing with requests for flexible working patterns and holidays along with other forms of shorter-term leave like time off for dependents. HR is usually also involved in arranging longer term forms of leave too including parental leave, maternity leave, paternity leave and adoptive parents leave.
3. Sickness absence, wellbeing and health and safety
Sickness absence is another important functions of HR, supporting employees who are having ongoing health problems but also identifying any patterns of absence that indicate a problem such as an employee taking time off inappropriately.
HR is often the leader when it comes to more general wellbeing initiatives too and in some organisations, might also be closely involved with many other aspects of health and safety as well. They might be responsible for actions such as safety training, conducting risk assessments and managing the associated action plans for example.
4. Compensation, benefits and rewards
This is a broad area covering a range of activities including negotiating large scale pay deals, managing annual pay reviews and handling bonus payments through to making decisions about specific benefits and rewards at an individual level.
While rewards typically comprise more tangible elements of a package, there is increasing appreciation that other elements can have a real impact too like greater flexibility and a positive working culture: areas where HR often has considerable influence when it comes to direction setting.
5. Payroll, pensions and auto-enrolment
It’s not always the case that HR is totally responsible for payroll but even if not, it will almost certainly be involved in liaising closely with the payroll department or outsourced payroll provider, ensuring payments are made correctly and on time, with the correct deductions being made. It might find itself involved in the creation of pay gap reports too.
HR may also have a role to play in pensions and auto-enrolment as well, ensuring the company remains in compliance with requirements, sending out communications as required and supporting efforts to help people better understand and engage with their pensions.
6. Workforce, career and succession planning and development
Every company must make sure its employees are correctly trained to do their role and have opportunities for ongoing development to meet both company needs and individual aspirations.
This is something that the functions of HR facilitates in conjunction with other management often as part of a wider planning process, making sure the company will continue to have the skills it needs over the medium to longer term. It’s a broad activity, translating company strategy into what’s needed at a departmental and individual level in terms of training and development plus other actions such as external recruitment.
7. Performance management
This is a very broad responsibility that’s fundamentally concerned with enabling employees to perform at their very best. It touches on all kinds of areas from giving employees access to the right kind of training, through to performance appraisals (or other mechanisms for performance feedback) and gauging how people feel about the work they are doing and the culture they are working in. The functions of HR will usually play a big role in devising and reinforcing approaches that help employees feel engaged in and recognised for the work they are doing.
8. Disputes and disciplinaries
HR practitioners will often be the ones taking the lead in managing situations where conflict arises in the workplace in various forms. It could be through more informal intervention, but might involve processes such as mediation, conciliation and arbitration where appropriate.
HR will also be involved in any grievances raised in the company, ensuring that the process is followed with the investigation, hearings, appeals and responses carried out correctly and in line with the required timescales. In a similar way, HR will be involved in any disciplinary situations which might arise for a range of reasons such as conduct or performance problems.
9. Employee departures
HR will be involved at the end of an employee’s time with the company, taking any steps needed following resignations or to facilitate an employee’s retirement. HR will also take the lead when it comes to handling both compulsory and non-compulsory redundancy situations including conducting consultations and dealing with notices and payments. It will also be involved in managing dismissal situations, along with any tribunal issues that might subsequently arise.
10. HR information systems
Underpinning all of these different functions of HR is the need to have excellent HR systems in place. As custodians of a vast quantity of employee data, HR is responsible for ensuring that all records are maintained in a safe and secure way that complies with GDPR. Equally, they must make sure information can be readily updated and accessed by the right people. Meticulous record-keeping will ultimately ensure that HR can always be relied on to provide high-quality data and HR analytics that drive excellent decision making within their company.
If you are not confident that your systems are as effective as they should be, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to find out more about our HR software, payroll software and outsourced payroll services.