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What Does HR Mean, and What Do They Do?
Practically every store or company has an HR department or employee, depending on the size. It’s often the first person or department you talk to when you apply for a job as well as the person who helps you when you have questions about your benefits or some other aspect of the company. It’s also the first person or department you talk to when you leave the job and need to get your paperwork together. So, who exactly are these HR employees, and what do they do?
1. What is HR?
HR is short for human resources. It’s the department within a company that handles hiring, employee well-being, firing, benefits and keeping up to date with important laws regarding taxes and other business-related issues. Whether you’re a small business of just 10 people or you’re a large Fortune 500 company, the person or people in charge of your human resources are critical to your ability to thrive. They can keep you out of legal trouble, both with your current and previous employees and the state and federal governments, and they help keep track of things like payroll so that you are free to run the other important aspects of your business. The term “human resource” dates back to 1893 when it was used in the book “The Distribution of Wealth” by John R. Commons.
2. What Does the HR Department DO?
Accurately named, the HR department in a company is literally a resource for the people who work for you. It ensures they have the tools they need to be productive and happy employees. Some of these tasks may include: Administering training programs for new employees or to boost the skills of current employees Managing payroll for the entire company Handling all things benefits, ranging from health and life insurance to wellness programs and cafeteria access Accepting applications for new employees along with conducting background checks and contacting references Interviewing potential employees to ensure they meet the company’s qualifications Conducting orientations for new employees Processing paperwork for new hires and people who leave the company Working as a mediator when problems arise between employees and managers Staying on top of laws and practices regarding taxes, sexual harassment, equal opportunity employment and more and advise management on these issues
3. Does Every Business Have an HR Department?
Whether or not a company has an HR department typically depends on the size of the company. Larger businesses almost always do because there simply isn’t enough time for management and executives to handle these tasks. Smaller and medium businesses may have a small department or a single person who handles all HR tasks. Some small businesses may choose to outsource some or all of their HR duties. As a matter of fact, it’s also becoming common for larger companies to outsource a few HR duties, like payroll, background checks, exit interviews, risk management, and dispute resolution, to free up their HR departments to handle bigger and more important tasks that add more value to the company.
4. What are Some Positions Within an HR Department?
If you do end up working in an HR department at a company, there are several rolls that may interest you. The most common is an HR specialist. These are the people who handle job interviews, payroll and benefits if that work is not outsourced, and they may specialize in one aspect of the job. HR managers oversee the department and coordinate all administrative duties of a company. Training and development managers typically handle all training and skill development for new and current employees. More specialized jobs include executive recruiter which is a person will help a company find senior-level employees. A global HR specialist will handle the hiring of employees for a company’s overseas endeavors.
5. How Do You Get a Job in HR?
If you like working with people in a business environment, HR may be a career option for you. For entry-level positions, you most likely need a high school diploma, though some people opt to get an associate’s degree or certificate. If you plan to work your way up or want to start out as an HR manager in a larger company, consider getting a bachelor’s degree in a subject like business administration, human resources, marketing, finance, management or economics. Many schools even offer an MBA with a focus on HR. When it comes to skills and personality traits you’ll need to work in HR, some of them include: Excellent communication skills, both written and oral The ability to work towards goals and solution s Project management Extroversion Networking skills The ability to negotiate The ability to understand business practices and laws
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