HR and Human Resource Management 101

Human Resources is a multifaceted, necessary part of most organizations. It is responsible for many different workplace needs, including recruiting, hiring, payroll, professional development, performance evaluation, employee retention, disciplinary action, and ethics. All-in-all, it takes an active role in managing compliance with government regulations, and mediates between the employee and the business on issues. Sometimes these sections of human resources are even broken down further into departments, depending on the size of the company. Each role, however, is integral to employee and business success.

Selecting employees can be tough. Many people don't want to upset a nice, under-qualified interviewee, and resist hiring the disheveled, experienced applicant. Bad practices may lead to business people making that poor decision. Although there is no perfect formula for hiring, the best advice is to start well in advance of a hiring need. The human resources professional must build a talent pool, agree on a legal job description with the hiring manager, draft interviewing questions, and establish a background check policy long before the first interview is done. When interviewing and selecting candidates, the human resources partner must also ensure that all involved employees are knowledgeable of legal and ethical standards.

Salary negotiation is an important stage before and sometimes after hiring. It's important to do research about the candidate and the role to know how much that person is worth to your company. Depending on your business model, compensation can come in many forms such as salary, hourly, or commission-based wages. But employees usually don't just want to be paid, they also want to receive benefits, bonuses, and retirement planning. Furthermore, they want incentives to stay with your company.

After onboarding has been completed and the employee has proved that they are eligible to work in the United States, it often can feel like the employee goes off into the ether of other departments. That doesn't mean the role of human resources is over until the employee leaves unless disciplinary action is required. In fact, a good human resource department will usually host an orientation for new employees (at least to review the employee handbook) and continue to remain in contact with the employee via trainings. Trainings can include safety instructions, anti-harassment campaigns, disaster preparedness, or even simple professional development workshops. Human resources often offer these and other benefits to ensure compliance and improve employee retention.

An employee's performance should be periodically evaluated, not only to ensure that the company is getting its maximum return on its human investment, but also to inform the employee of their status. Positive reinforcement is a powerful force for employees who are doing a good job. For problem employees, specific work-quality issues can be pointed out, and goals can be set for the next meeting. These new goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound (SMART). Once finished, performance evaluations should make employees feel empowered, not micro-managed. After employees have been reviewed, succession planning can be a good organizational practice.

Sometimes termination is simply necessary. When the employee has performed an illegal act, such as illegal drug use, embezzlement or workplace theft, termination is justified. Breaking company policies against cyberbullying, harassment or violence can also be grounds for termination. However, there are situations where termination can be considered "wrongful". For example, if an employee is terminated because he or she was a "whistleblower" regarding OSHA violations, litigation can follow. Also, if an employee is fired while taking a leave of absence that is covered by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), it can be considered illegal.

Employment and human resources law can be very complicated. Always remember to look up not just federal law, but also your state and local regulations. Knowing that your organization operates within employment law is supremely important, but it is also important to make ethical decisions whether or not the less moral decision is technically illegal. A human resources employee should be familiar with the legalities relating to recruitment, disciplinary action, performance evaluations, training and compensation. They should create policies specifically relating to harassment, affirmative action, and employee protection. In the end, it is up to the organization to ensure that employees and candidates will not be treated differently because of their race, sex, age, religion, disability, citizenship, place of birth, or family status.

Recruitment, Sourcing and Hiring

Payroll and Other Types of Compensation

Professional Development and Employee Retention

Performance Evaluations and Succession Planning

Disciplinary Action and Termination

Laws and Ethics