The role of Human Resource Management is one that has seen great changes over the years. Early in the twentieth century, Human Resources (HR) had narrow operational and administrative functions such as completing new hire paperwork and maintaining personnel files. The role has since evolved, and HR professionals now partner with every department and directly impact strategic-level business decisions. The roles of HR vary widely based mainly on company size and HR-to-employee ratio. For instance, a company with fewer than 100 employees may only have one HR professional. This person would need to be a Generalist, handling all aspects of HR (and possibly Payroll). A company with 200 employees might have a Recruiter, an HR Generalist, a Payroll Admin, and an HR Manager. Even larger companies might hire enough HR staff for there to be specialized roles such as a Compensation Analyst and Benefits Specialist.
HR roles vary widely from one organization to another. They can be proactive, reactive, or a combination of both depending on the company’s priorities and culture. The roles also vary based upon the HR department model. Many HR departments are broken up into business units based on the internal customer groups they support. HR professionals are known as Business Partners. HR roles can also be assigned based on the level at which they work (e.g. Senior Generalist, HR Director, CHRO) (Politeknik NSC, n.d.).
HR staff typically provide three types of support: advice, service, and control. These three forms of support have been and continue to act as the foundational basis of HR functions.
While HR as a function has no operational authority, HR professionals equip their leaders and employees with the knowledge and resources needed to make the best possible decisions. HR advisory services include advising line management on policies, laws, and employment best practices. HR staff provides solutions to organizational problems, guidance on the issues faced by employees, and employment-related resources.
For HR, the role of providing service is all about maintaining records, hiring new employees, training them, and answering and clarifying information within a broad customer base; which includes management, workforce, legal and regulatory agencies, applicants, retirees, families of employees, and vendors.
Control is more of an authoritative role that plays a huge part in the consistency of policy application, evaluation of employee performance, corrective action, and designing and implementing employee programs. An example of control would be a Recruiter requiring an application to be submitted and filled out completely prior to screening a candidate. Another example would be an HR Generalist requiring everyone who attended training to sign an acknowledgment.
Advice, service, and control can be termed as the broader roles of HR, which are then narrowed down to more specific responsibilities. The significance of HR’s contributions has become more apparent and has earned HR a seat at the executive roundtable where they can directly contribute to the organization’s direction with strategic solutions designed for achieving organizational goals.