Human resources may not be what you actually consider them to be. If you’re an employee of a business, you likely think of human resources as the department that helped hire you, runs payroll and deals with any conflict within the office. On the other hand, if you’re a business owner, your human resources are all of your employees. Per economic principles, every person who works for a company is technically a human resource, as opposed to a natural or capital resource. The human resources department of any business is full of employees whose job it is to capitalize the productivity of other employees by ensuring the workplace is safe and friendly, as well as taking care of compensation.
While there’s some hubbub about considering human beings commodities and assetts, as opposed to social creatures capable of doing work, you shouldn’t let yourself get too worked up about that. As an employee, you are a valuable assett to the business for which you work and that makes you a resource. If you left the business or something unfortunate happened and you could no longer do your job, the business would miss you and your skills. The human resources department is responsible for finding the best and strongest talent to bring into the workplace. Over time, they have added a few more functions as well.
The advent of labor unions just before the 1800s had quite an effect on businesses. It took the position of power out of the hands of the business and put them back in the hands of the employees who held the skills. During this time, human resources managers essentially became peacemakers, acting as the middleman between management personnel and union spokespeople. It was the HR department’s job to help both parties come to a common answer and make certain the stipulations in the contract were upheld.
In the early 1900s, non-union companies like B.F. Goodrich Company began listening and addressing employee concerns and other companies followed suit. The National Labor Relations Act in 1935 gave HR managers more pull in the workplace. Fast forward to movements like the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. If a business didn’t follow these stipulations in these acts, they could find themselves on the business end of a hefty lawsuit.
Today, as the Internet grows, human resources management is becoming more complex. Some employees now work from home, which presents different opportunities for HR to manage them. Human resources managers are finding other ways, often utilizing IT solutions, to keep up with employees and ensure that work is still being completed in an effective way that warrants the correct compensation. Yet beyond that, human resources managers are using online tools to help them accomplish any number of tasks, including e-recruitment, online shortlisting of applicants, psychometric training, payroll systems and checking references. What’s more, some businesses cannot afford to hire an entire human resources department or even one dedicated manager. In that case, rather than spend the countless hours doing it alone, small business owners are opting to outsource their human resources department to a company that specializes in all of the functions of an HR team, including hiring and payroll.
In a down economy, the human resources department is even more important than you may imagine. This is not to say businesses are bad, but employees can work themselves extremely hard, even overwork in some cases, and not always receive appropriate compensation. Human resources managers are present to help employees be treated fairly, keep a workplace safe and friendly and allow for fair compensation, performance appraisals and coaching. This work gives employees the motivation to give businesses their best work, which benefits both the employee and the business owner. You may not realize the amount of work your human resources department puts into their day, but you know they have to be pretty sharp. After all, they hired you.