The Changing Role of the HR Department

Today’s HR directors are operating in an environment of change and interesting opportunities. The role of these teams are changing, particularly within in-house organisations. Originally, personnel teams were focused heavily on the administrative requirements of managing staff according to processes and legal requirements, dealing with pay and benefits, sickness and absence reporting, development and training opportunities, issues resolution, hiring and firing and other ‘business as usual’ activities, often at large volumes and with high manual administration requirements.

HR department roles

A changing remit

Today however, the human resources management world focuses on people as a resource – or an asset – for the company to use and get the most from. This means that the direction of this specialist team is becoming increasingly strategic. HR directors have an increasingly prominent position at senior decision making levels, and advise on topics such as employee engagement, talent management, employer branding, data management and so forth.

Emerging strategic trends

Employers are recognising that people need to be engaged, developed and rewarded correctly in order to maintain competitive advantage and that all important strong employer brand that attracts the best talent to apply for jobs with the employer. Without it, attrition levels are high and operational costs are elevated through repeat recruitment processes.

The role of technological innovation

Happily, software developments and technological innovation are playing a huge role in facilitating this shift away from tactical management to a strategic and advisory role. Integrated software systems, such as Oracle, SAP or other options, mean that organisations can manage far more of their people transactions in an automated, accurate, time-saving and integrated way, improving MI, reducing the cost to serve and, crucially, allowing staff to carry out increasing self-service for regular activities such as holiday booking, payslip access, changes of details and so forth.

When extrapolated across large and geographically diverse workforces, the cost and time benefits of these systems alone can be vast. They also facilitate internal communications, which is typically another HR aligned function, and increasingly delivered via tailored, electronic means.

The newer breed of software systems are also far more cost effective, as they are generally bought ‘off the shelf’ rather than built from scratch, and they can be deployed on a licensed, cloud basis for regular updates without downtime or expense. For HR directors considering their options,for the best in HR software packages, see here.

Outsourced solutions

Some companies are also considering the use of specialist outsourced HR solutions too for some aspects of delivery. This can allow in-house resource to focus on more value-added activities, and maintain strategic supplier relationships for activities such as payroll management and HR software maintenance and management. The cost savings can be attractive, as well as the access to specialist expertise for related areas. Some organisations will also choose to outsource elements of their training provision, rather than maintain a full in-house delivery team.

Strategic value

Today’s HR departments may be involved in areas as diverse and rewarding as employee engagement strategy and initiatives, internal communications development, culture and change management programmes, talent development programmes, specialist internal ‘fast-track’ or recruitment schemes, the management of employer branding and the development of recruitment social media channels, reward and recognition strategies, training and up-skilling, and plenty more.