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Gain a Better Understanding of Human Resources Management

Human Resources Management (HRM) serves a range of critical purposes within an organization that enable employees and companies to grow. These responsibilities include developing policy and directing human resources functions such as recruitment, employment, compensation, benefits, training, professional development, employee services and employee relations.  

Human resources managers have supervisory, intradepartmental functions that include full-time, part-time and temporary staffing, as well as managing, directing and counseling the specialists and administrators in HR. To excel in these functions, HR managers need to be skilled at critical thinking and analysis, disciplined decision-making, and effective communication.

Critical analysis and solid decision-making result when an individual with strong reasoning and mathematical skills acquires a specific skill set through education and/or training. Effective communication skills are the refined product of raw language skills, after they are honed for specific purposes within the scope of business.

To determine whether you have the right aptitudes for human resources management, consider your strengths in the following areas:

If you can say with reasonable confidence that you are strong in at least six of these areas, you may be an ideal candidate for post-graduate training in HRM. The Southeastern Oklahoma State University Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in Human Resources online program provides the education you need to develop your aptitudes in the core competencies of HR management. If you possess these aptitudes, consider whether you would ultimately like to make each of the following major HRM functions a focus in your career.

Defining and Aligning Purposes With People

As a human resources manager in the 21st century, you are not just viewed as the manager of a department within a business, but a partner and an advisor to the business. One of your primary areas of expertise is defining your organization's purpose.

One of today's most widely studied business books, Raj Sisodia's Firms of Endearment, reveals that purpose-driven companies provided returns of 1,646 percent between 1996 and 2011. Contrast this with the average returns of S&P 500 companies of just 157 percent during this period and you can see how important this tool can be in affecting top and bottom line growth.

According to this research, most companies struggle to identify and articulate why they exist.  Employees, teams and departments need to understand their individual purposes and how they connect to the larger organization's purpose. Employees must appreciate how this alignment drives key business objectives. HR has a major role to play in defining and aligning purposes with people and in communicating those purposes throughout the organization. The strongest HR managers do this continuously, before a job candidate walks through the door.

Professional Development and Training

HRM ensures employees' continuous mastery of the skills necessary to perform their roles and to outperform similar employees in competing organizations. Professional development and training starts with the new hire orientation and onboarding to transition employees to a new business and culture. It continues throughout employment with professional development opportunities, including seminars and workshops. The organization may also offer leadership training to employees who demonstrate the capabilities to move up in the organizational structure.

With an organization's purpose defined and aligned with its people, HR managers conduct routine assessments to determine what skills employees need to keep the organization performing optimally. They work with managers in each department to evaluate employee performance and determine if the organization would benefit from additional employee training. That may include advanced degrees and certification programs. Tuition assistance for these programs is often within the purview of HR managers.

Compensation and Benefits

Striking the right balance between attracting/retaining talent and overpaying is one of the most critical HRM functions. HR personnel devise compensation structures and plans, constantly evaluate local competitive pay practices, and align performance with compensation incentives. Other HR personnel are responsible for the administration of payroll.

Benefits specialists negotiate group rates for health insurance, retirement planning and other offerings. They coordinate meetings and other activities with providers and covered employees.

Compliance With Labor Laws

Compliance specialists are experts in federal and state labor and employment laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). They ensure compliance with these laws and develop additional provisions to improve working conditions and employee retention. Noncompliance with labor laws can result in workplace complaints and lawsuits based on discrimination or unfair labor practices.

Relations Between Employer and Employees/Union

HR managers ensure and maintain a mutually beneficial relationship between employees and the employer. Positive relations promote employee engagement, which correlates strongly with retention. Preventing and resolving workplace conflict, on a broad level (between labor and management) and on a human level (between a manager and an employee), is also part of this function. In unionized environments, this function becomes more complex with tasks including negotiating collective bargaining agreements and managing labor union contract issues.

Safety and Risk

Employers have a legal obligation to provide a safe working environment. HRM oversees workplace safety and training and maintains mandated records of workplace injuries and fatalities. Personnel responsible for safety and risk work with benefits specialists to manage workers compensation when risk mitigation fails. Another increasingly popular safety and risk function is ensuring that employees' workstations are set up ergonomically to promote better health and alertness.

Two Courses Focus Exclusively on HR

An MBA focused on Human Resources Management provides training in the fundamentals of finance, accounting, economics, behavioral management, research and data analysis. These courses are the foundation upon which the core competencies of HRM are built.

The Southeastern Oklahoma State University MBA with an emphasis in HR provides two courses focused on the core competencies and specific skills required for HRM:

Human Resource Management: Get acquainted with EEO regulations and modern methods of selecting, appraising and training employees and solving various personnel problems.

Supervisory Management: Study the problems involved between supervisor and employee, including union involvement.

The SOSU curriculum was designed in partnership with employers to provide a complete understanding of human resources functions and to ensure that graduates are prepared to take on the toughest challenges in human resources management.

Learn more about the SOSU online MBA with an emphasis in Human Resources program.


Forbes: What Organizations Need Now From Human Resources

Houston Chronicle: Six Main Functions of a Human Resource Department

Houston Chronicle: What Are the Functions of Human Resource Managers?

Workforce: Sample Job Description HR Manager

Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose

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