The Roles and Functions of the 21st Century HR Office

Long gone are the days when the HR function could be handled by one person. The infamous “HR Lady” has now been replaced by a full staff of professionals with diverse functions. HR now seems to be the catch all when it comes to any facet of employee relations and company culture. Also, in the current employment environment, what constitutes Human Resources continues to evolve on a daily basis.

If you will give me a few minutes, I’m going to take a slightly tongue in cheek look at the HR function in a typical large company. It may seem like the world’s most strenuous job sometimes, but there are definite benefits. Once we go through the list, you may realize that a job in HR may be the hotspot for career advancement and even provide semi-security from the unemployment surge.

HR Function and its roles and responsibilities

Ok. First up are those brave and valiant souls we call HR Generalists. The front line of an HR office, they deal most with the company’s employees and are responsible for many of the day to day operations. Their duties include:

– Explaining to a tenured employee why they have no more PTO (Paid time Off) time available.

– Researching and explaining the complex web of employee benefits.

– Assisting with interviews.

– Receiving and processing the fifty million possible types of employee forms.

– Payroll – I don’t think I need to say any more about that.

A tenacious Recruiter is also critical to any HR department. Responsible for attracting and recruiting top talent, this person has their hands full. Also, guess who catches the heat if the employee from Hades makes their way through the screening process? Yep, you guessed right. This keeper of the gate is up to her elbows in:

  • Sifting through a thousand and one resumes (some abysmal) and cover letters.
  • Conducting phone screenings and scheduling interviews, in addition to listening to about a million voice messages.
  • Walking raw recruits through computerized testing. Hey, didn’t her application say she was proficient in all Microsoft applications?
  • Wading through qualifications, making offers, counter-offers, and pitching the company’s benefits.
  • Maintaining a smile all day long at the local job fair. Someone buy that poor girl a Starbucks.

Trainers are also on the front line of shaping the organization. Critical to individuals at all levels of the organization, a successful training team is invaluable. They often have their finger on the pulse when it comes to the needs and complaints of the employees, and are invaluable in planning new initiatives. Perhaps one of the most undervalued positions, these folks:

  • Conduct new-hire orientation and training. Someone has to get those raw recruits into shape.
  • Support the functional departments with process training
  • Shape the company culture through the use of soft skills and collaborative training modules.
  • Provide an ear for frustrated employees.
  • Perform the miracle of getting Susie in inventory control to become proficient in Microsoft Excel.

HR Managers are the glue that keeps it all together. Tasked with overseeing Generalists, Recruiters and Trainers, HR managers also have to ensure that the goals and objectives of Senior Leadership are being implemented across the organization. This can be a tightrope to walk, but the successful Manager knows how to maintain the delicate balance. Some critical responsibilities are:

  • Ensuring the smooth running of the HR office.
  • Gaining buy-in from the operations Managers and Supervisors for new policies.
  • Conducting town hall meetings to disseminate new programs and guidelines to employees. Anyone hear crickets?
  • Administering assimilations or team building exercises.
  • Overseeing recruitment efforts.
  • Developing incentive programs.
  • Investigating claims of racism, sexism, and every other ism you can think of.
  • Listening to the never ending list of employee issues and complaints.
  • Everything else under the sun.

All jokes aside, HR is one of the most versatile and hardest working functions of any organization. They impact every aspect of the company and are stewards of its vision. HR engages in leadership and management development, employee counseling, community outreach, and a whole lot more.

By working in Human Resources, you gain a diverse skill set that can be transferred into so many other positions. A company simply could not function without your expertise and dedication. So the next time you feel down about your job, remember that HR runs the show.

I’m just serious.

  • jess says:

    hi,i just sent my CV to the HR department of a bank for a job…im looking to build a career in project management and i think the HR is a good start. but i have no idea wot 2 expect if im being called for an interview…i ve a diploma in computer science.

  • Hi Amit, this article is infact all about what is the position of HR in an organisation which is very helpful to those who want to start a career in this field i wanted to tell you that for the next three weeks i am going to replace the personnel assistant of the HR Manager, this will be a good experience but am a bit nervous. can you give me some advice to facilitate my work.

    thanks dear

  • Isha Minhas says:

    BRAVO .. :D

  • Jessy says:

    Hello! I would thank you for your mails; they are very informative. I presently work as a Front Desk Officer in a consulting firm. I also do a bit of HR functions but i am getting bored with my job. I would like to go into full time HR job. Presently, I have completed a post gradute programme, Master of Public Admin and my area of specialisation was HRM. I have also been applying for HR jobs but i will really want to know what i should be expecting if I am called for an interview.

  • Prerna says:

    Crisp and nice article :)

  • Sylvester says:

    Hi Amit, I must admit you are reshaping the human resource function of most organizations. Have you considered reflecting on the International Human Resource Management given the rapid increase of Multinational Enterprises, how to circumvent the challenges inherent due to factors such as culture and interlinking IHRM as a business segment as opposed to the traditional role of administration?

  • rohit singh says:

    Really this is very useful for me.Thanks Amit plz send mer more….

  • Charity says:

    Hello Amit,you are simply a genuis. The article hit the nail at the head.

  • Sari says:

    Hi A.B,
    Thanks alot for the information given am grateful but does not all the questions i sent to you so please send me the answers to the rest, thanks.

  • emmi says:

    Hi, am an MBA(HR)graduate, planning to a certificate course in HR, so got information from few of my freinds & i want you are sugestion which insititute i,ve to choose ” HR- HOUSE OR HUSYS…..
    plz help me in this regard……
    thanking you…

  • roshan says:

    Thanks for the good stuff man…..

  • Roshan says:

    Hi, Amit thanks for your efforts !! cheers!!

  • Ali says:

    Hi Amit, the artical is realy good but the thing is most of the organization still mixing Admin, Personnel into the HR. They do not believe on the HR. Some of the organization give more weightage to Administration rather to HR.

    If Management realy give the proper importance or weightage to the HR, i think it may be very beificticial to the organization rather than anyother department.

  • Gore says:

    hr is a department that is vital in an organisation since other departmental managers are reluctant to give the seriousness that employee issues deserves. they tend to focus much of their attention to productivity issues neglecting the same employees that operate machinery, which are also the most valuable resources that cannot be imitated, substitutable et cetera.

  • Adesuwa says:

    Hi Amit, I have just joined the HR Department of my organization (Savings, Loans & Mortgage), and I really would want to create a difference in my new job.

    Thanks for your write-ups.

  • Renudevi says:

    Hi Amit
    I like your artical. Its really very good. Thankyou for sending the artical

  • gayathri chakravarthi says:

    Hi Amit ,
    I am a UG Student studying my BSW and also working as a HR Assistant in hospital ,ur articles are really good and very useful ,thanks :)

  • molly says:

    Hie Amit

    Thank you so much for the emails they are so informative. Keep them rolling in .

  • molly says:

    I love this part which says “and every thing else under the sun” At most as HR people ,employees will come with those situations ,some not even work related but as an HR person you have to listen to them and offer advice!

  • Richard says:

    Amit, that is wonderful. I have been in the field for sometime and see the challenge all the time. Managements of various human institutions need to understand the issues of HR very well to be able to give HR departments the push and support they need to shapen their institutions/Organizations. Otherwise, HR will continue to function as the old personnel departments and cannot get the impact it needs to make on the institutions

  • Horlay says:

    Hi Amit,thanks for d mails,they are so educative

  • Horlay says:

    Hi Amit,
    Thanks for the mails, they are so educative.Please keep on sending more to me.

  • Rajni says:

    Hey Amit…

    Nobody could have said that better!!! Very well written!!!

    HRM is more often than not referred to as ” Horror Resource Management”

    Keep the info coming in!!



  • Amit Bhagria says:

    Thanks Rajni for appreciating my write up……I liked the full form of yours on HRM…….and in a way it is true…..but with the help of budding HR professionals like you….I would like to rephrase it as “Heart & Relationship Management” :) …way to go for all of us :)

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