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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. The responsibilities of HR managers 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. Reflecting this, Master of Business Administration (MBA) in HR programs emphasize developing skill with critical thinking, strategic decision-making and communication. 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:

  • Logic and scientific/evidence-based reasoning
  • Probability and statistical inference
  • Fractions, percentages, ratios and proportions
  • Abstract and concrete considerations
  • Analyzing and interpreting complex documents
  • Learning new technologies
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Presenting in front of a group
  • Being persuasive in group environments
  • Dealing with delicate and sensitive topics
  • Being empathetic and responsive to individuals’ unique needs
  • Writing effectively through a variety of channels

If you can say with reasonable confidence that you are strong in a majority of these areas, you may be an ideal candidate for graduate-level training in HRM. The Southeastern Oklahoma State University online MBA with an Concentration in Human Resources 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. You are a partner and an advisor to the business. One of your primary areas of expertise is defining your organization’s purpose.

According to the 2020 Zeno “Strength of Purpose” global study, “consumers are four to six times more likely to trust, buy, champion and protect those companies with a strong purpose over those with a weaker one.” Today’s business world is undeniably consumer- and customer-centric. Factors like the reputation, loyalty and support developed through the relationship between a business and their customers are integral to that business’ success. And, as Zeno’s research shows, the defined and demonstrated purpose of an organization has a profound impact on these factors.

Many 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.

For instance, the rapid advancement of technologies used in the modern business environment demands ongoing training for employees. HR managers may work with the IT department, other departmental heads and team leads to plan technology integrations, assess where skills gaps exist and coordinate effective training to bring everyone up to speed. Even within the HR department, managers identify and coordinate training for HR technologies to leverage like AI-driven people analytics systems, recruiting/screening tools or HR process automation software.

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. These experts can be invaluable in acquiring and retaining top talent, especially during times when the hiring market is competitive and highly qualified employees and job candidates expect and demand attractive compensation packages.

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 and performance. HR leaders have played an important role in leading this change, helping organizations develop more employee-centric company cultures and business models. This type of work environment also supports collaboration and the open sharing of ideas, leading to creativity and innovation.

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.

The importance of responsive safety and risk management became glaringly clear during the COVID-19 pandemic as businesses had to pivot to remote work models. Even as many workforces shifted back toward in-office or hybrid models, organizations had to update safety protocol, risk mitigation measures, office layout, airflow systems and other safety management systems to maintain employee safety — and business continuity.

Four Courses Focus Exclusively on HR

An MBA focused on human resources management provides training in the fundamentals of finance, accounting, economics, behavioral management, research, data analysis marketing and strategic management. These studies are the foundation upon which the core competencies of HRM are built.

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

  • Employment Law: Examine employment laws and regulations from a legal standpoint and in practical application to simulated real-world HRM policy-development and planning.
  • Human Resource Management: Get acquainted with EEO regulations and modern methods of selecting, appraising and training employees and solving various personnel problems.
  • Training and Development: Delve into the principles and theories of adult education and performance improvement in context of various professional development roles.
  • Compensation: Explore the intricacies of salary and pay structures, benefits and other forms of compensation as well as reward systems as a whole from the employee, manager and HR practitioner perspective.

Southeastern’s HR 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 Southeastern Oklahoma State University online MBA with a Concentration in Human Resources program.

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