What you need to know:
- HR should, like all other functions, contribute to the overall objectives of an organisation.
- The common mistaken notion that HR exists merely to secure employee welfare ought to be disabused.
- An organisation that meets its overall objectives is well placed to take care of its people.
I am a HR manager in a local company. Recently I was part of a panel discussion where someone mockingly asked me what HR really does. While I have studied HR and practised it for some time, I did not feel confident with my answer. How should I handle this question next time?
There are many different versions of not only what HR is but also its purpose in organisations. These versions vary based on context, primarily shaped by leadership, stage of growth of an organisation, organisational aspirations, as well as differences in the perspectives among those making attempts to plumb the import of HR. Some consider HR to strictly be about people strategy while others see it merely as a garage for grievances and odd issues that arise in organisations. While it may mean different things to different people and organisations, HR is nevertheless not a nebulous trade.
HR should, like all other functions, contribute to the overall objectives of an organisation. The common mistaken notion that HR exists merely to secure employee welfare ought to be disabused. An organisation that meets its overall objectives is well placed to take care of its people. Granted the differences in definition, a broad dual purpose of HR is to contribute to organisational success by facilitating optimal people output as well as helping to nurture an environment in which employees could enjoy meaningful career experiences. This calls for a view that an organisation and its people are not two opposed or competing parties, but partners. People issues are business issues.
Like a lever that could be deployed to perform a variety of tasks based on context, HR could, more granularly, help to ensure that the architecture of an organisation fits its purpose; help an organisation to acquire and retain suitable talent; facilitate gestation of organisational values and culture that underwrites engagement and performance; facilitate the development of a leadership pipeline; superintend over performance and reward management; steward talent development and mind employment relations, among other mandates. So, depending on the question at hand, HR could be plotted anywhere on a spectrum one end of which are to be found rudiments of setting up and running a people function, or involvement in moulding an organisational conscience.
HR Practitioner [email protected]