HR – What it is and why does it matter? 

HR stands for Human Resources, and is the department in an organisation that is concerned with obtaining the right people at the right price at the right time for the right place. But this is perhaps a little over simplistic and in my experience HR tends to have a role in the majority of organisational activity. It may seem trite to say that our people are our greatest asset, but organisations could not function without its people; people make all the difference to the products manufactured or the customer experience in the service delivered. 
I like to think of HR as delivering all the activities involved in the employee lifecycle as outlined in the figure below:- 
A HR practitioner could be called upon to solve personal individual problems and may undertake strategic decision making so the role is quite diverse. 
Having effective HR in any business can support it in achieving its organisational goals. In small businesses where owners have their personal capital tied up in the business. HR can support in ensuring compliance to avoid any costly employment mistakes such as putting employment contracts into place. But it can also identify potential strategies to ensure greater cost control and profitability. For example, undertaking some job design to streamline job roles to ensure employees are focusing their effort on the things that make a difference to the bottom line. 
HR can also help unlock the vision and goals of the business owner to make these tangible for employees. This can be done by supporting managers in providing clear communications as well as having a performance management system that ensures employee objectives link to the overall vision. 
HR can also help small businesses in managing growth. During this evolution a business may need to improve its service provision or put in place more quality processes into manufacturing. HR are able to support by evaluating the current workforce and putting various strategies into place from training and development to exit management. 
Overall the role of HR can put into place statutory requirements. From there it can build on these foundations, developing managerial capability and encourage broader transformation. This is the exciting part of HR as it can support a business to realise its potential in the long-term. 
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