Usually, a business will approach us with what they think they need in terms of HR services. We’ll get a call or an email about a specific topic, asking us whether we can fill that need and what we would recommend as the best way forward for that company.
“When should I look at bringing on a Human Resources person or staff?”
In this article we will cover the basics of Human Resources and why your business needs it.
What is HR?
As a concept, Human Resources is supposed to be the department providing access to your company’s personnel; in practice, HR is in charge of protecting your company. It really depends on who you’re talking to- someone at the bar asking what you do gets the “we take care of the employees” line while somebody in corporate expects to hear “this is how we protect the employer”. People work for the people who pay them, and employees don’t pay the HR department. It’s cynical, but this is how things are.
ConnectedHR works with tons of businesses, providing the resources typically only available to much larger companies. We love to work with people, to solve problems, and to keep everybody feeling important and safe in at their job. However, the companies that hire us tend to have expectations. If we make everybody in the office feel super positive about their work family, while leaving the company open to expensive litigation, we lose the client. We want to become part of your team, and we’ll stay on your team by doing our real job.
It’s always been this way.
A Brief History of HR
The first recorded “Personnel Administration” department started at the National Cash Register Company in 1900. NCR Corporation, as they’re known today, responded to a series of strikes and unionizations by creating a department whose purpose was to find the cheapest, easiest methods of reducing turnover and production interruptions. Tens years later, Henry Ford would implement the same strategy for workers on his production lines.
The phrasing became “Human Resources” during the 20s: a title indicating that the people making up a company was valuable and had tangible worth. “Human Resource Management” however, became the select nomenclature of upper management, relegating employees as a means to an end for employers rather than real people in a productive enterprise. So, one side of HR must appear to treat employees as meaningful, social beings, and others must always treat them as a commodity. The inherent dichotomy of these divergent philosophies has colored our operative characterizations of HR ever since.
Over the next few decades, the role of Human Resources expanded to include payroll management and hiring. After the Second World War, what we would call “globalization” became a thing and companies became small fish in a big pond. That is, they were forced to become competitive in their hiring and benefits strategies, which further increased the responsibilities of their HR departments.
Then came the Civil Rights Era. As different laws involving workers rights, like the ADA and other anti-discrimination acts, were implemented, a company’s compliance with these laws also fell to HR.
Since its inception, Human Resources had to evolve, and they’re still evolving. Widespread Marijuana Legalization, as well as protections for Transgender individuals, are already a reality in many states, and on the horizon in all others. HR has become a catch-all for keeping a company modern and will be instrumental in any changes you make in your own business.
Important Responsibilities of HR
It’s helpful to remember the phrase “Personnel Administration” when applying tasks to HR. Anything that has to do with your employees involves HR in some way. These include:
- Hiring and Firing
- Promotion Consideration
- Harassment Claims of any kind
- Payroll and Benefits
- Disputes between employees
- Official Warnings
- And the most important role HR plays… Planning
Whatever changes you make in your company, from opening a new location to planning the office Christmas Party, should involve HR. Furthermore, channels of communication should be in a place that allows HR to propose changes that could improve your company. They work directly with people on every level- entry to C-Suite. Their observations are extremely valuable and you should mandate a “State of the Union” report every few weeks. It’s so difficult to play from behind, and your HR people shouldn’t need to catch up to you.
Why Your Business Needs HR
HR is there to protect your company. Let them do it. Whether you’re creating an in-house department, hiring a professional HR firm, their effectiveness relies on your understanding of their purpose.
Change is coming fast and hot these days. The words we use, the people we hire, even our mission statements are under extreme scrutiny. An HR department provides scrutiny internally before the world gets a chance to.
If you need to protect your company, and you do, give us a shout. We’d love to answer questions and create a future for your business.