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The 5 Main Roles in HR
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Workforce Management

The 5 Main Roles in HR

One Minute Takeaway

  • HR manages five main duties: talent management, compensation and benefits, training and development, compliance, and workplace safety.
  • There’s a lot of crossover between different HR roles, and between HR and other departments.

An effective human resources (HR) department is a key part of business success. This team is responsible for your most valuable asset: your people. A lot of HR’s responsibilities are invisible – especially if done well. And in smaller companies, one person might take on several HR roles. In this article, we’ll explore the top five duties of this department, and what an HR team needs to be successful.


1. Talent Management

The talent management team is directly responsible for employees. These HR specialists recruit, hire, develop, engage, and retain your company’s employees. To do that, they need hard skills like data management, soft skills, and a formidable attention to detail.

Recruiters build your company’s workforce. They run the hiring process from start to finish. Some of their top responsibilities are:

  • Working with internal hiring managers to identify gaps, create hiring timelines, and set a budget for compensation packages
  • Writing job descriptions that match the company’s needs and appeal to potential hires
  • Posting on job boards and monitoring responses
  • Sourcing potential candidates through job fairs and social media
  • Running background checks
  • Conducting initial interviews
  • Scheduling follow-up interviews
  • Collecting feedback from hiring managers and other stakeholders
  • Creating offer letters
  • In some cases, negotiating salary and benefits with potential new hires
  • Communicating with newly hired employees so they know what to expect from onboarding

It’s a complex job, to say the least. Recruiters have to know their own company well enough to communicate its needs – but they also need to stay connected with the job market, so they can build a pipeline of qualified candidates for future job openings. You can measure a recruiter’s success by a few key metrics: the number of positions they fill each year, where candidates are coming from (e.g., job postings, social media, career fairs, etc.), and the time it takes to fill positions. If these numbers start falling behind, it’s time to reevaluate your recruiting strategy.

Once a new hire starts work, they’ll work with your employee relations team. This part of HR deals with aspects of the employer-employee relationship, like employee satisfaction, corporate culture, and conflict resolution. You might say that all these issues fall under one umbrella: employee engagement. Highly engaged employees are absolutely essential for the success of your business. Globally, disengaged workers cost $8.8 trillion in productivity last year – or 9% of the world’s GDP (Gallup).

If your employees are in a union, this team will also work on labor relations. They might negotiate collective bargaining agreements, craft managerial responses to union organizing campaigns, and interpret labor union contract questions.

Talent management also refers to workforce planning and management. In other words, these managers need to be ready to step in when an employee leaves the company. Whether they resign, retire, get laid off or fired, take medical leave, or something else, succession planning falls to HR.


2. Compensation and Benefits

In smaller companies, your HR team may be able to combine compensation and benefits administration. The larger your organization, the more people you’ll need to do these jobs. It’s pretty common for big companies to split up compensation and benefits between two separate HR teams.

On the compensation side, HR evaluates the pay practices of competitors and sets up a formal compensation structure. These teams also work with hiring managers and recruiters to create job descriptions, and work with talent management on succession planning.

Think of benefits administration as an employee retention strategy. Great benefits entice candidates to join your team and encourage current employees to stay. These HR roles handle all the details of these perks. For example, they might negotiate group health coverage rates with an insurance company or coordinate with the company’s 401(k) administrator.

Payroll administration technically falls under the same umbrella as compensation and benefits. However, most companies choose to outsource this complex process, or use sophisticated HR tools to automate it. If you do have an HR leader running payroll, that could be their only responsibility.


3. Training and Development

Every leader wants to see their employees thrive. That means providing them with all the tools they need to succeed. Some employees need literal tools, like laptops, job-related software, or the tools of a particular trade. But all employees need tools like new employee orientation, leadership training programs, and other development opportunities. 

Training and development (sometimes called learning and development) is integral to any HR strategy. Depending on your company and your workforce, that could mean one of several things. You might offer on-the-job training to so employees can stay up to date on new industry standards. Alternatively, you could send teams to conferences so they can learn more about the industry. You could also work with benefits administrators to offer funds for ongoing education outside of work. Some types of HR software offer a learning portal, where employees can follow personalized learning paths to develop their careers.


4. HR Compliance

Legal and regulatory compliance is a critical component of any HR department. Employment and labor laws are extremely complex, and they’re always changing. Without a dedicated compliance team, your company can face hefty fees or even legal consequences.

To keep a company compliant, HR needs to stay apprised of federal and state laws, upcoming regulatory changes, and relevant reporting deadlines. You’ll also need a way to evaluate your labor practices. The compliance team should fully understand employment laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, and dozens of other rules and regulations.

With these parameters in mind, the HR compliance team plays a major role in crafting and updating the employee handbook. To do this, they’ll probably work with other HR managers, the C-Suite, and other stakeholders from across the company.


5. Workplace Safety

Providing a safe place to work is important for a long list of reasons – not only because you care about your team’s well-being. It’s also a compliance issue. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) requires employers to maintain a safe working environment.

Because these regulations affect workers, HR teams need to be involved. First of all, your company’s HR department should facilitate employee safety training. They’ll also log workplace incidents and report them to relevant government offices. This department works closely with benefits specialists to manage workers’ compensation insurance.

Ready to Take the Next Step?

There’s a lot of cross-over between the five main HR functions. Even for a skilled team, it can be hard to manage all these moving pieces. But the success of your business depends on their work. Leaders can streamline every aspect of HR by giving these teams the tools they need to succeed.

Paycor’s suite of HR software is purpose-built for leaders. Our tools empower you to support every stage of the employee life cycle, from hire to retire. Take a tour of our products today and learn what Paycor can do for your company.

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