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Human resources

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Human resources (HR) is the set of people who make up the workforce of an organization, business sector, industry, or economy.[1][2] A narrower concept is human capital, the knowledge and skills which the individuals command.[3] Similar terms include manpower, labor, labor-power, or personnel.

The Human Resources department (HR department, sometimes just called "Human Resources")[4] of an organization performs human resource management, overseeing various aspects of employment, such as compliance with labor law and employment standards, interviewing and selection, performance management, administration of employee benefits, organizing of employee files with the required documents for future reference, and some aspects of recruitment (also known as talent acquisition) and employee offboarding.[5] They serve as the link between an organization's management and its employees.

The duties include planning, recruitment and selection process, posting job ads, evaluating the performance of employees, organizing resumes and job applications, scheduling interviews and assisting in the process and ensuring background checks. Another job is payroll and benefits administration which deals with ensuring vacation and sick time are accounted for, reviewing payroll, and participating in benefits tasks, like claim resolutions, reconciling benefits statements, and approving invoices for payment.[6] HR also coordinates employee relations activities and programs including, but not limited to, employee counseling.[7] The last job is regular maintenance, this job makes sure that the current HR files and databases are up to date, maintaining employee benefits and employment status and performing payroll/benefit-related reconciliations.[6]

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A human resources manager can have various functions in a company, including to: [8]

  • Determine the needs of the staff/personnel.
  • Determine whether to use temporary staff or hire employees to fill these needs.
  • Determine do's and don'ts.
  • Train and develop management styles
  • Recruit and/or interview the best employees
  • Train employees and upgrade their learning knowledge
  • Supervise the work
  • Evaluate the work
  • Establish discipline work culture in the organization
  • Avoid politics in the office.
  • Apply HR software for the ease of work in the organization.
  • Manage employee relations. If there are unions, perform collective bargaining
  • Prepare employee records and personal policies.
  • Manage employee payroll, benefits, and compensation
  • Ensure equal opportunities
  • Deal with discrimination
  • Deal with performance issues
  • Prepare remote work and hybrid work policy
  • Ensure that human resources practices conform to various regulations
  • Motivate employees
  • Mediate disputes
  • Disseminate information in the organization so as to benefit its growth

Managers need to develop their interpersonal skills to be effective. Organizational behavior focuses on how to improve factors that make organizations more effective.


Human resource management used to be referred to as "personnel administration".[9][10] In the 1920s, personnel administration focused mostly on the aspects of hiring, evaluating, and compensating employees.[11][12] However, they did not focus on any employment relationships at an organizational performance level or on the systematic relationships in any parties. This led to a lacked unifying paradigm in the field during this period.[13]

According to an HR Magazine article, the first personnel management department started at the National Cash Register Co. in 1900. The owner, John Henry Patterson, organized a personnel department to deal with grievances, discharges and safety, and information for supervisors on new laws and practices after several strikes and employee lockouts. This action was followed by other companies; for example, Ford had high turnover ratios of 380 percent in 1913, but just one year later, the line workers of the company had doubled their daily salaries from $2.50 to $5, even though $2.50 was a fair wage at that time.[14] This example clearly shows the importance of effective management which leads to a greater outcome of employee satisfaction as well as encouraging employees to work together in order to achieve better business objectives.

During the 1970s, American businesses began experiencing challenges due to the substantial increase in competitive pressures. Companies experienced globalization, deregulation, and rapid technological change which caused the major companies to enhance their strategic planning – a process of predicting future changes in a particular environment and focus on ways to promote organizational effectiveness. This resulted in developing more jobs and opportunities for people to show their skills which were directed to effectively applying employees toward the fulfillment of individual, group, and organizational goals. Many years later the major/minor of human resource management was created at universities and colleges also known as business administration. It consists of all the activities that companies used to ensure the more effective use of employees.[15]

Now, human resources focus on the people side of management.[15] There are two real definitions of HRM (Human Resource Management); one is that it is the process of managing people in organizations in a structured and thorough manner.[15] This means that it covers the hiring, firing, pay and perks, and performance management.[15] This first definition is the modern and traditional version more like what a personnel manager would have done back in the 1920s.[15] The second definition is that HRM circles the ideas of management of people in organizations from a macromanagement perspective like customers and competitors in a marketplace.[15] This involves the focus on making the "employment relationship" fulfilling for both management and employees.[15]

Some research showed that employees can perform at a much higher rate of productivity when their supervisors and managers paid more attention to them.[14] The Father of Human relations, Elton Mayo, was the first person to reinforce the importance of employee communications, cooperation, and involvement.[14] His studies concluded that sometimes the human factors are more important than physical factors, such as quality of lighting and physical workplace conditions. As a result, individuals often place value more on how they feel.[14] For example, a rewarding system in Human resource management, applied effectively, can further encourage employees to achieve their best performance.

By one account, which is also business legend, the seachange in Human Resources from simply managing the ‘personnel’ function to becoming a proactive governance entity within organisations is said to have first occurred at British Airways in the 1990s. Its HR team devised policies whose intention was to create a positive business culture. One such policy was called the ‘Competency and Behaviour Matrix’. "This listed the professional skill levels and corporate behaviours that were expected from each level of seniority in the business." The behaviours included 'Leadership' and 'Collaboration'. "Job interviews and promotion appraisals included meetings with HR where questions like “Can you describe a time when you demonstrated extraordinary leadership?” would be asked and the answer graded against the matrix." By the turn of the Millennium it was considered best practice, with new behaviours, including 'Diversity Equality and Inclusion' being added to the matrix.[16]

Origins of the terminology

Pioneering economist John R. Commons mentioned "human resource" in his 1893 book The Distribution of Wealth but did not elaborate.[17] The expression was used during the 1910s to 1930s to promote the idea that human beings are of worth (as in human dignity); by the early 1950s, it meant people as a means to an end (for employers).[18] Among scholars the first use of the phrase in that sense was in a 1958 report by economist E. Wight Bakke.[19]

In regard to how individuals respond to the changes in a labor market, the following must be understood:

  • Skills and qualifications: as industries move from manual to more managerial professions so does the need for more highly skilled staff. If the market is "tight" (i.e. not enough staff for the jobs), employers must compete for employees by offering financial rewards, community investment, etc.
  • Geographical spread: how far is the job from the individual? The distance to travel to work should be in line with remuneration, and the transportation and infrastructure of the area also influence who applies for a position.
  • Occupational structure: the norms and values of the different careers within an organization. Mahoney 1989 developed 3 different types of occupational structure, namely, craft (loyalty to the profession), organization career path (promotion through the firm), and unstructured (lower/unskilled workers who work when needed).
  • Generational difference: different age categories of employees have certain characteristics, for example, their behavior and their expectations of the organization.[20]

Criticism of its terminology and role

An advertisement for "human resources" (labour) from Sabah and Sarawak, seen in Jalan Petaling, Kuala Lumpur.

One major concern about considering people as assets or resources is that they will be commoditized, objectified, and abused. Critics of the term human resources would argue that human beings are not "commodities" or "resources", but are creative and social beings in a productive enterprise. The 2000 revision of ISO 9001, in contrast, requires identifying the processes, their sequence, and interaction, and to define and communicate responsibilities and authorities.[citation needed] In general, heavily unionized nations such as France and Germany have adopted and encouraged such approaches. Also, in 2001, the International Labour Organization decided to revisit and revise its 1975 Recommendation 150 on Human Resources Development, resulting in its "Labour is not a commodity" principle. One view of these trends is that a strong social consensus on political economy and a good social welfare system facilitate labor mobility and tend to make the entire economy more productive, as labor can develop skills and experience in various ways, and move from one enterprise to another with little controversy or difficulty in adapting.

Another important controversy regards labor mobility and the broader philosophical issue with the usage of the phrase "human resources".[21] Governments of developing nations often regard developed nations that encourage immigration or "guest workers" as appropriating human capital that is more rightfully part of the developing nation and required to further its economic growth. Over time, the United Nations have come to more generally support[22] the developing nations' point of view, and have requested significant offsetting "foreign aid" contributions so that a developing nation losing human capital does not lose the capacity to continue to train new people in trades, professions, and the arts.[22] Some businesses and companies are choosing to rename this department using other terms, such as "people operations" or "culture department," in order to erase this stigma.[23] An HR professional who is a critic of its governance has written that "HR has become the clerisy for the management class, driving and enforcing uniformity of opinion," whereas "those who come up with the good ideas in business are the dissidents, the disruptors, the passionate."[24]


Human resource companies play an important part in developing and making a company or organization at the beginning or making a success at the end, due to the labor provided by employees.[25] Human resources are intended to show how to have better employment relations in the workforce.[26] Also, to bring out the best work ethic of the employees and therefore making a move to a better working environment.[27] Moreover, green human resource development is suggested as a paradigm shift from traditional approaches of human resource companies to bring awareness of ways that expertise can be applied to green practices. By integrating the expertise, knowledge, and competencies of human resource development practitioners with industry practitioners, most industries have the potential to be transformed into a sector with ecofriendly and pro-environmental culture.[28]

Human resources also deals with essential motivators in the workplace such as payroll, benefits, team morale and workplace harassment. [5]


Administration and operations used to be the two role areas of HR. The strategic planning component came into play as a result of companies recognizing the need to consider HR needs in goals and strategies. HR directors commonly sit on company executive teams because of the HR planning function. Numbers and types of employees and the evolution of compensation systems are among elements in the planning role.[29] Various factors affecting Human Resource: planning organizational structure, growth, business location, demographic changes, environmental uncertainties, expansion etc. Additionally, this area encompasses the realm of talent management.[citation needed][30]

See also


  1. ^ "What is Human Resources? Definition of Human Resources, Human Resources Meaning". The Economic Times. Retrieved 25 March 2024.
  2. ^ Aswal, Dinesh K. (9 November 2020). Metrology for Inclusive Growth of India. Springer Nature. p. 987. ISBN 978-981-15-8872-3.
  3. ^ Haas, Hein de; Castles, Stephen; Miller, Mark J. (21 November 2019). The Age of Migration: International Population Movements in the Modern World. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 332. ISBN 978-1-352-00713-8.
  4. ^ FCS Marketing L4. Pearson South Africa. 2009. p. 148. ISBN 978-1-77025-400-8.
  5. ^ a b "Beyond Hiring and Firing: What is HR Management?". The Balance. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  6. ^ a b "HR Assistant Job Description and Salary". June 2015. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  7. ^ "Use Coaching to Improve Employee Performance".
  8. ^ Mathis, R.L; Jackson, J.H (2003). Human Resource Management. Thomson.
  9. ^ Poole, Michael (1999). Human Resource Management: Critical Perspectives on Business and Management. Taylor & Francis. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-415-19338-2.
  10. ^ Pieper, Rüdiger (25 October 2012). Human Resource Management: An International Comparison. Walter de Gruyter. p. 3. ISBN 978-3-11-086910-1.
  11. ^ Lepadatu, Darina; Janoski, Thomas (18 February 2020). Framing and Managing Lean Organizations in the New Economy. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-351-01513-4.
  12. ^ Jackson, Esther (28 September 2021). Adaptability in Talent Development. Association for Talent Development. ISBN 978-1-952157-52-3.
  13. ^ "The Historical Background of HRM". Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  14. ^ a b c d "History of Human resources". Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g "Human Resource Management (HRM) – Definition and Concept". Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  16. ^ C.J. Strachan (pseud), How HR Turned Workplaces Woke, The Daily Sceptic, 23 March 2024;
  17. ^ Kaufman, Bruce E. (2001). "Human resources and industrial relations: Commonalities and differences" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 May 2015.
  18. ^ E McGaughey, "A Human is not a Resource" (2018) Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge Working Paper 497
  19. ^ Kaufman, Bruce E. (2008). Managing the Human Factor: The Early Years of Human Resource Management in American Industry. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. p. 312n28.
  20. ^ "Managing Generational Differences in the Human Resources Role". 27 June 2014.
  21. ^ Dubey, N. B. (1 December 2009). OFFICE MANAGEMENT: Developing Skills for Smooth Functioning. Global India Publications. p. 9. ISBN 978-93-80228-16-7.
  22. ^ a b "10. Human resources" (PDF). Atlantic International University. Retrieved 25 March 2024.
  23. ^ "Rebranding Human Resources. Let's Get Real". HR Cloud. 2015.
  24. ^ C.J. Strachan (pseud), How HR Turned Workplaces Woke, The Daily Sceptic, 23 March 2024;
  25. ^ Noe, Raymond; Hollenbeck, John; Gerhart, Barry; Wright, Patrick (16 October 2014). Ebook: Fundamentals of Human Resource Management. McGraw Hill. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-07-717197-1.
  26. ^ Staff, U. S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Statistics; Statistics, United States Bureau of Labor (1 February 2000). Occupational Outlook Handbook. U.S. Government Printing Office. ISBN 978-0-16-050249-1.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  27. ^ Radhakrishna, A., and R. Satya Raju. "A Study On The Effect Of Human Resource Development On Employment Relations." IUP Journal of Management Research 14.3 (2015): 28–42. Business Source Complete. Web. 25 Sept. 2015.
  28. ^ Osolase, Ehikioya Hilary; Rasdi, Roziah Mohd; Mansor, Zuraina Dato’ (May 2023). "Developing Awareness of Green Human Resource Development Practices in the Hotel Industry". Advances in Developing Human Resources. 25 (2): 116–122. doi:10.1177/15234223231155503. ISSN 1523-4223.
  29. ^ "What Is the Difference Between Human Resource Management & Human Resource Planning?". Small Business - Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  30. ^ "Occupational Outlook Handbook / Human Resources Managers". U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS. 8 September 2022. Retrieved 26 October 2022.

External links

This page was last edited on 3 May 2024, at 23:55
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