Human Resources

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Human Resources is the set of people who make up the workforce of an organization, business sector, industry, or economy. A narrower concept is human capital, the knowledge, and skills which the individuals command. Similar terms include manpower, labor, personnel, associates, or simply: people.

A human-resources department (HRD) of an organization performs human resource management, overseeing various aspects of employment, such as compliance with labor law and employment standards, administration of employee benefits, organizing of employee files with the required documents for future reference, and some aspects of recruitment (also known as talent acquisition) and employee offboarding.

HR Responsibilities

Human resource managers are in charge of every aspect of the employee life cycle in an organization. The responsibilities of HR include preparing or updating employment records related to hiring, transferring, promoting, and terminating. The duties include planning, recruitment, and selection process, posting job ads, evaluating the performance of employees, organizing resumes and job applications, scheduling interviews and assisting in the process, and ensuring background checks. Another job is payroll and benefits administration, which ensures vacation and sick time are accounted for, reviewing payroll, and participating in benefits tasks, like claim resolutions, reconciling benefits statements, and approving invoices for payment. HR also coordinates employee relations activities and programs including but not limited to employee counseling. The last job is regular maintenance, this job makes sure that the current HR files and databases are up to date, maintaining employee benefits and employment status, and performing payroll/benefit-related reconciliations.

Activities

A Human Resource Manager has various functions in a company;

  • Determine needs of the staff
  • Determine to use temporary staff or hire employees to fill these needs
  • Determine Do's and Dont's 
  • Recruit the best employees
  • Train employees. Upgrade their learning knowledge
  • Supervise the work
  • Evaluate the work
  • Establish 'Discipline work culture' in the organization
  • Avoid Politics in office
  • Apply 'HR Software' for the ease of work in the organization
  • Manage employee relations. If there are unions that perform collective bargaining
  • Prepare employee records and personal policies
  • Manage employee payroll, benefits, and compensation
  • Ensure equal opportunities
  • Deal with discrimination
  • Deal with performance issues
  • Ensure that human resources practices conform to various regulations
  • Motivate employees
  • Mediate disputes
  • Disseminate information in the organization to benefit its growth

Managers need to develop their interpersonal skills to be effective. Organizational behavior focuses on how to improve factors that make organizations more effective.

History

Human Resource Management used to be referred to as "personnel administration". In the 1920s, personnel administration focused mostly on the aspects of hiring, evaluating, and compensating employees. However, they did not focus on any employment relationships at an organizational performance level or the systematic relationships in any parties. This led to a lacked unifying paradigm in the field during this period.

According to an HR Magazine article, the first personnel management department started at the National Cas Register Co. in 1900. The owner, John Henry Patterson, organized a personnel department to deal with grievances, discharges, safety, and information for supervisors on new laws and practices after several strikes and employee lockouts. This action was followed by other companies; for example, Ford had a high turnover ratio of 380 percent in 1913, but just one year later, the line workers of the company had doubled their daily salaries from $2.50 to $5, even though $2.50 was a fair wage at that time. This example clearly shows the importance of effective management which leads to a greater outcome of employee satisfaction as well as encouraging employees to work together to achieve better business objectives.

During the 1970s, American businesses began experiencing challenges due to the substantial increase in competitive pressures. Companies experienced globalization, deregulation, and rapid technological change, which caused the major companies to enhance their strategic planning - predicting future changes in a particular environment and focusing on ways to promote organizational effectiveness. This resulted in developing more jobs and opportunities for people to show their skills which were directed to effectively applying employees toward the fulfillment of individual, group, and organizational goals. Many years later the major/minor of human resource management was created at universities and colleges also known as business administration. It consists of all the activities that companies used to ensure the more effective utilization of employees.

Now, human resources focus on the people side of management. There are two real definitions of HRM (Human Resource Management); one is that it is the process of managing people in organizations in a structured and thorough manner. This means that it covers hiring, firing, pay, and perks, and performance management. This first definition is the modern and traditional version more like what a personnel manager would have done back in the 1920s. The second definition is that HRM circles the ideas of management of people in organizations from a micromanagement perspective like customers and competitors in a marketplace. This involves the focus on making the "employment relationship" fulfilling for both management and employees.

Some research showed that employees can perform at a much higher rate of productivity when their supervisors and managers paid more attention to them. The Father of Human relations, Elton Mayo, was the first person to reinforce the importance of employee communications, cooperation, and involvement. His studies concluded that sometimes human factors are more important than physical factors, such as quality of lighting and physical workplace conditions. As a result, individuals often place value more on how they feel. For example, a rewarding system in Human resource management, applied effectively, can further encourage employees to achieve their best performance.

Origins of the Terminology

Pioneering economist John R. Commons mentioned "human resource" in his 1893 book The Distribution of Wealth but did not elaborate. The expression was used during the 1910s to 1930s to promote the idea that human beings are of worth (as in human dignity); by the early 1950s, it meant people as a means to an end (for employers). Among scholars, the first use of the phrase in that sense was in a 1958 report by economist E. Wight Bakke.

Regarding how individuals respond to the changes in a labor market, the following must be understood:

  • Skills and qualifications: as industries move from manual to more managerial professions, more highly skilled staff do. If the market is "tight" (i.e. not enough staff for the jobs), employers must compete for employees by offering financial rewards, community investment, etc.
  • Geographical spread: how far is the job from the individual? The distance to travel to work should be in line with remuneration, and the transportation and infrastructure of the area also influence who applies for a position.
  • Occupational structure: the norms and values of the different careers within an organization. Mahoney 1989 developed 3 different types of occupational structure, namely, craft (loyalty to the profession), organization career path (promotion through the firm), and unstructured (lower/unskilled workers who work when needed).
  • Generational difference: different age categories of employees have certain characteristics, for example, their behavior and their expectations of the organization.

Concerns about the Terminology

One major concern about considering people as assets or resources is that they will be commoditized, objectified, and abused. Human beings are not "commodities" or "resources", but are creative and social beings in a productive enterprise. The 2000 revision of ISO 9001, in contrast, requires identifying the processes, their sequence, and interaction, and to define and communicate responsibilities and authorities. In general, heavily unionized nations such as France and Germany have adopted and encouraged such approaches. Also, in 2001, the International Labour Organization decided to revisit and revise its 1975 Recommendation 150 on Human Resources Development, resulting in its "Labour is not a commodity" principle. One view of these trends is that a strong social consensus on political economy and a good social welfare system facilitate labor mobility and tend to make the entire economy more productive, as labor can develop skills and experience in various ways, and move from one enterprise to another with little controversy or difficulty in adapting.

Another important controversy regards labor mobility and the broader philosophical issue with the usage of the phrase "human resources". Governments of developing nations often regard developed nations that encourage immigration or "guest workers" as appropriating human capital that is more rightfully part of the developing nation and required to further its economic growth. Over time, the United Nations have come to more generally support the developing nations' point of view, and have requested significant offsetting "foreign aid" contributions so that a developing nation losing human capital does not lose the capacity to continue to train new people in trades, professions, and the arts.

FAQs
Q. What is the usual fee for MBA in HR in India?
A. Usually MBA HR fee is around 8 Lakhs from any good college in India. It is better to go for MBA in HR from a good college, as you will get better job opportunities.

Q. What one thing would you like to change in Human Resource Management, that is in practice right now?
A. One thing that I would like to change in HR is the way it still uses manual systems for data entry and maintenance of the HR Database. There is software that provides the ability to enter HR-related data in a much easier and error-free way.

Also, we can have an Employee Self Service Portal, which can help in getting rid of all the duplication work.

Again we can have an automated Initial Screening System for recruitment, which can help in focusing on candidates that are important for hiring.

Q. What is the best cover letter template?
A. As a candidate, it is important to write a beautiful cover letter, that will encourage HR or Hiring Manager to read your resume and post it for further rounds. Below is one of the simple cover letter templates:

Dear Sir/Mam,

Greetings of the Day,

I have come across an opening at your esteemed organization for <position name>, for which I am sharing my candidature for your reference. 

I have good experience in:
<give your experience details>

Kindly give me an opportunity to connect with you for the same,

Thanks & Regards,
<Your Name>
<Your Phone Number>
<Your Email ID>

You must always mention your name, phone number, and your email id at the bottom of the cover letter, because it makes it easy for the HR Manager to connect with you, hence increasing your chances of getting hired.

Reference:
1. Human Resources

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