What Does HR Do? (Responsibilities and Important Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Human resource is an important department for companies of all sizes and across all industries. In this department, professionals manage the concerns and needs that relate to the human capital of the organisation, or the people who work for the company. If you're considering a career in human resources, it's helpful to understand their main duties and responsibilities. In this article, we discuss what HR does and explore the skills you can use to excel in this field.

What does HR do?

Human resources (HR) professionals are responsible for handling any people-related concerns and needs that arise within an organisation. They often manage the recruiting, hiring and employee dismissal process. They're also responsible for onboarding new employees and managing the orientation process to get them set up in their new roles. When problems arise between employees, human resources may become involved to assist in the resolution process. The HR department maintains detailed employee records regarding any actions taken for legal purposes.

An efficiently run HR department can maintain the structure of a business and provide support and assistance to the human capital of the organisation, also known as its people. Some HR professionals focus on certain areas of the industry, such as payroll, benefits or training, while others handle more generalised tasks for the business overall.

Related: What Does a Human Resources Manager Do? (Five Main Tasks)

Key duties and responsibilities of human resources

Understanding the specific duties and responsibilities of HR can help you get a better sense of the importance of this department in any company. Here are the key duties and responsibilities of a company's HR:

Recruiting

Recruiting involves looking for qualified candidates for open positions within the company. It also involves completing the necessary steps to assess them for hiring consideration. As part of the hiring process, an HR professional may help create and post job advertisements, search for qualified individuals to apply for the open position, screen them and conduct interviews. These duties and responsibilities play a vital role in developing the workforce of a company.

Related: Tips From a Recruiter: Standing Out to Hiring Managers During COVID-19

Creating a safe work environment

Ensuring the safety of the workplace is a critical responsibility of a company's HR department. HR is responsible for providing a safe working environment for all employees. Thus, they oversee and conduct safety training, manage workplace injury logs and handle any employee's compensation needs that may arise.

Managing employee relations

Employee relations refer to the relationships between the management and the workforce, also known as employee-employer relations. HR is especially important in this role in unionised work environments, as they help in strengthening the relationships between the employees, supervisors and managers. Other employee relation duties that HR may perform include interpreting any labour contract issues, negotiating agreements and responding to union organisation plans.

Managing payroll

A company's HR department also handles all aspects of preparing and distributing payments for employees. This includes balancing payroll accounts, maintaining payroll records, overseeing payroll staff members and calculating taxes. Other duties that HR may perform include ensuring compliance with tax laws, preparing payroll reports and identifying payroll liabilities.

Managing compensation and benefits packages

Employees receive compensation packages in exchange for the work they perform for a company, and HR often oversees, manages and approves these deals. An HR professional may be responsible for establishing the compensation structure of a company and setting wage bands for specific positions or roles. They may also be responsible for examining whether the salaries are competitive to make sure the company is paying employees fairly based on wage laws.

The benefits package companies may provide includes retirements plans, life insurance, dental insurance, health insurance and other benefits that make an organisation more competitive and appealing to top professionals. An HR professional may negotiate group health coverage rates with several health insurance providers to get the best deal for their employees. They may also answer questions from employees, coordinate retirement plan options and manage the enrolment process each year. The enrolment process may include providing information about benefit options and enrolling and re-enrolling employees in benefits.

Related: Contract Employment: Definition, Benefits, Example and More

Take disciplinary action

Workplace discipline occurs when an employee breaks rules at work. A company's HR handles employee discipline and documents any actions taken in response to the employee's offence. Some examples of misbehaviour that may warrant disciplinary action include failing to manage the proper schedule or failing to perform the duties and responsibilities properly. An HR professional usually follows a procedure when taking disciplinary action, such as giving the employee a verbal warning, followed by a written warning.

Ensuring compliance with labour laws and regulations

In addition to maintaining a safe workplace for employees, HR is responsible for ensuring that the organisation complies with all other applicable labour regulations and laws. Complying with labour laws can help improve working conditions, prevent complaints against the company and increase employee job satisfaction. Some of the main applicable regulations include those related to fair employment practices and proper pay practices.

Overseeing training programmes

Training and development are important functions of a successful HR department. Employees require regular and ongoing training to transition into the company, understand the duties and responsibilities of their job and maintaining compliance with any legal regulations or process changes. A company's HR department may also provide leadership training to supervisors and managers related to employee relations and performance management.

Supporting employee development

HR departments may also provide employees with educational and development opportunities. Professional development can help employees learn new skills or improve upon the necessary skills to perform their duties more effectively. In addition, supporting the personal development goals can improve employees' loyalty and job satisfaction. Some organisations provide formalised development programmes with courses available to employees who want to gain new skills or learn about specific topics. They may also support employees in their educational endeavours by providing them with tuition reimbursement or assistance.

Assisting employees

If employees have personal challenges or needs that arise when working for a company, the HR department may be able to provide assistance or resources. Organisations usually provide employee assistance programmes as a benefit to their workforce, which can be a resource for employees who are struggling with personal challenges. If a medical issue occurs during an employee's tenure, HR may provide information about employee disability laws or the benefits available to the employee.

Common human resources skills

People who work in HR usually have strong people skills and may love to help others succeed. Here are other skills necessary to succeed as an HR professional:

Interpersonal skills

When employee relations are positive, a company's work environment is likely to be safe, enjoyable and productive. High office morale and a workforce that works as a team can lead to business success. Good HR professionals usually have interpersonal skills and can handle employee concerns tactfully. They can also manage and resolve potential issues between employees and employers. As the liaison in employee relations, it's important for HR professionals to be good at negotiating and reaching a fair resolution.

Related: Important Soft Skills Employers in Hong Kong Look For

Ability to adapt to new technology

A successful HR professional is comfortable using various technologies, including HR information software to manage payroll and other HR procedures to keep employee operations running efficiently and smoothly. They are also good at conducting data projections and analyses.

Communication skills

An HR professional interacts with people constantly and is responsible for creating company policies. That's why it's important for them to have good communication and customer service skills. It's important for them to be good at negotiating, writing, conducting interviews and discussing confidential or sensitive topics with tact. Also, an HR professional is responsible for keeping all employees updated about events, such as layoffs, safety protocols, acquisitions and mergers. It's important for them to be able to communicate this information clearly via email or during company meetings.

In addition, companies may require HR professionals to speak in front of large groups, departments or an entire organisation. That's why it's important to communicate clearly and present information in an understandable way. An HR professional might speak on topics ranging from company policies to benefit packages.

Related: 10 Effective Communication Skills for Career Success

Discretion

An HR professional may handle sensitive matters and confidential information, so it's important for them to be discreet to avoid professional or legal repercussions. It's important to approach tasks such as disputes, employee complaints and disciplinary action with care. Good HR professionals are typically trustworthy.

Organisation and project management

Good HR professionals can multitask and manage a range of projects effectively. They have good scheduling skills and can prioritise responsibilities well. They're also good at managing their time wisely, especially when they're handling time-sensitive tasks, such as managing payroll and putting together employment contracts. Good HR professionals can also manage employee data and records effectively in both digital and physical form.

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