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The most valuable resources that a company has are its employees. Unfortunately, employees are also some of the most difficult resources to handle and successfully manage. Every employee is a unique individual, and they bring that individuality to the job in the form of their abilities, as well as their own expectations and needs.

When it comes to being productive for the company, all these individuals need to work as a team, or else the company won’t be as productive as it can be. Generally speaking, human resources works closely with leaders across an organization to evaluate the work that is necessary to accomplish a company’s objectives, put the right employees in the appropriate positions, and provide those employees with the tools necessary to be as productive as possible.

A good HR department requires a little bit of science and a little bit of art to help the company achieve its objectives. The following are typical functions of human resources (HR).

1) Employee recruitment process

This is one of the most important functions provided by the human resources department, and it generally involves workforce planning, writing job descriptions, advertising openings, screening applicants, and assisting managers with making good hiring choices. While doing all this, HR professionals also have to keep in mind the broader goals of hiring individuals who can contribute to and work well with a diverse group of employees.

Recruiting and hiring also involves providing candidates with company handbooks, preparing contracts, re-evaluating job descriptions as necessary, ensuring a diverse workforce, and conducting exit interviews. All these activities will help ensure that the right people are hired to fill available positions.

2) Compensation development and processing

Another very important HR function is to establish a salary range for company positions and to find qualified candidates who can fill said positions. One aspect of managing compensation is to perform performance appraisals and provide incentives based on the results of those appraisals, such as sales commissions or year-end bonuses.

It is very important that companies have a sensible approach to compensation so that employees feel that they are treated well and motivated to succeed. To be sure that compensation rates are within normal ranges in the country, HR professionals may have to consult the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports for all available positions. A good HR department will also periodically conduct reviews of pay scales internally, to be sure that there is no bias towards different races, genders, or ages.

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3) Performance management and improvement

This is an ongoing process in which companies evaluate employee performance and identify areas that need improvement. An HR department should also recognize high-performing employees and find ways of rewarding those employees who perform exceptionally. Most companies will have performance reviews on some kind of regular basis, usually at year’s end.

When an employee is not performing up to expectations, the HR department may be required to impose some kind of discipline or create a plan for performance improvement, with achievable goals built into the plan. For more serious violations of company policy, employees may have to be placed on probation or terminated. Whatever disciplinary actions are taken, however, these must be spelled out clearly in the employee handbook so that all employees are aware of the consequences of their actions.

4) Benefits management

A large percentage of an employee’s compensation is made up of benefits. Some of these benefits might include educational opportunities, use of a company car, assistance with childcare, health insurance, and other perks. Benefits management is often a time-consuming process that requires attention to detail so that employees are properly enrolled, insurance premiums are paid, and the company sees the full impact of its investment in benefits.

The HR department is responsible for administering these extra benefits on behalf of the company. Whatever benefits are provided by a company, these should be clearly advertised so that employees are aware of how much value they’re getting in addition to their standard compensation. With the rising costs of health insurance and the importance that most employees place on their benefits, it is crucial that these are well managed.

5) Training and development

Most employees are interested in developing as professionals, so they can increase their skill level and advance their careers. On-the-job training is a great way to orient employees initially or to cross-train them for other positions in the company. Some companies will pay for off-site training and educational benefits that will enhance their employees’ skills.

Training employees and providing them with opportunities for personal growth requires a significant company investment. However, the payoff certainly makes that worthwhile because it can result in higher quality work, greater productivity and engagement, and a significantly improved level of employee retention.

6) Employee relations

When a company has positive relationships with its employees, it can foster an atmosphere of greater productivity and create a more effective working environment. Happy employees are much more productive than dissatisfied or disgruntled employees, so it’s to the advantage of any company to foster an atmosphere where employees are content.

In order to do this, HR management should research what employees value in the workplace and try to accommodate that. For instance, if flexible work schedules are the most desirable characteristic of working for a particular company, that should be emphasized. Surveys and interviews can be conducted to determine appeals the most to different employees.

7) Compliance with labor laws

This is an essential component of any HR department. All company practices and policies must comply with regulations issued by state and federal agencies in order to safeguard both company and employees. For example, there should be a prohibition on any kind of harassment or discrimination that is based on genetic information, national origin, disability, age, sex, religion, race, or pregnancy.

It is important to ensure that employees can take leave when necessary to fulfill obligations such as pregnancy, illness, jury duty, military duty, and disability. It’s a good idea to have all company policies checked out with a legal consultant to ensure compliance and actually enforce those policies as they are written.

Turn to an outsourced HR department

A company’s HR department has to handle several crucial pieces of running a business, including making sure employees are content, determining adequate compensation and benefits, ensuring that employees stay on in the long term, and complying with local and federal labor laws. It’s a lot to handle. Hiring and training employees to handle all these tasks can be difficult.

This is why many companies have turned to outsourcing as a way to manage their HR functions. At Employer Advantage, we deliver top-of-the-line HR services for both large and small businesses alike. As an outsourced HR department, we will make sure that all of the aforementioned functions are handled effectively and efficiently. In addition to HR services, we also offer outsourced payroll services, risk management, and employee benefits management.