Guide to an Effective HR Department


What does the human resources department of a company do? While this may seem like a silly question to most in the business world, seeing as almost everyone has dealt with HR in one form or another to get hired for their job. Being responsible for recruiting, interviewing and placing workers within a company, a HR department is also responsible for handling employee relations, payroll and benefits, and training. Perhaps what is less common knowledge is that HR plans, directs, and coordinates the administrative functions of a company as well.

This may lead some to ask why HR planning is important to an organization. A broad but inclusive human resources plan is crucial to an organization because it addresses organization goals, tactical and strategic needs of the company, compliance with rules and regulations, and day-to-day staffing issues. This can be accomplished by setting up well thought out timetable goals and collecting quantifiable metrics to measure the success, thus helping the organization grow.

Now that HR has been defined as more than just the department that conducts the interviews and handles confrontations between employees, let’s look at how an HR department can be even more efficient and effective in what they do. Here are some ideas of things that your HR department should start doing or stop doing to better help your organization as a whole.

Holding Managers Accountable– managers should be expected to behave and lead like the paid professionals they are. Their work should be held to the same standard as the work of the people they manage. Part of growing an organization involves giving and receiving feedback in order to perform better. Give performance reviews for both managers and the people under them. Being a manager is being a leader, a leader of the employees they oversee.

Humans, Not just Numbers– without employees, it’d be awfully hard to run your organization. There is a reason the department is called human resources and not business resources. Your employees have invested time and energy into your organization, so they shouldn’t be treated as a number or the same as any other business factor. Take the time to develop and understand your employees because without them, and it’d be hard to run the organization by yourself.

HR Leader Proficiencies– here are a few characteristics that an effective HR leader should demonstrate as an integral part of your organization.

  • Trustworthy Activist– HR deals with people, so naturally they should develop relationships with the other employees. Earning and maintaining the trust of all employees, while keeping what is best for the business in mind is crucial for running a proficient HR department. Trust can go a long way in terms of getting meaningful feedback on strategies and issues that should be changed. Take the time for those relationships and it’ll show in the long run.
  • Business Ally– While HR may not be directly involved with the business specific decisions, the decisions that HR does make can have a significant impact on the organization itself. When HR has a thorough understanding of your business, it will help them make better decisions in situations that can impact the growth of your company. This will help in recruiting new employees especially.
  • Operational Executor– The corporate world is ruled by deadlines, regulations, and policies. It is especially crucial to have an HR department that ensures that everything happens on time, every time. Missed deadlines for employee paperwork or regulatory compliance forms can be a costly mistake.
  • Agent of Change- HR is responsible for recruiting and hiring new talent that will benefit the company. Also, HR shapes the culture of the organization through its policies to help create a connection between the internal values of the company to the external expectations of the business world. A great deal of change can originate from your HR department, so make sure you take advantage of how this can benefit your organization.

Share the Responsibilities- Whether directly involved or not, everyone in your company is involved with human resources. Through the guidance and strategy laid out by the HR team, your employees should be motivated to excel within the business as well as helping the organization grow. Your managers should lead by example and help develop the talent that they manage. And everyone should be working towards achieving the goals of the organization as a whole. Fostering this mentality is one of the jobs of HR, and it will help share the workload if everyone is on the same page, striving for the same goals.

Consolidate Systems– Besides being an inefficient use of time for your HR employee; having different systems for information requires a significant amount of redundant work. Having a system for payroll, one for basic employee information and one for benefits is not the way you should go about structuring your HR systems. When a change in software needs to be done (maybe appointment or scheduling software or other softwares), all that data entry must be completed three times (or more depending on how many systems you have). Consolidate and unify under one comprehensive system to save time and increase efficiency, thus freeing up more time for your HR department to focus on strategies that will help your business grow.

Continue Building Your HR Strategy– Stress the importance of your HR department focusing on the employees of your company. A successful organization is made possible, at least in part, by its dedicated and driven employees, and it is the job of HR to foster this mentality of your employees. An effective HR strategy should include the following in some way or another:

  • Training programs– provide a way to continue to develop and train your employees. As the organization grows, so should your employees. Set up programs that help employees reach and exceed their potential. This can impact your company in a tremendous way.
  • Motivation– set goals (company-wide and personal) to motivate and excite the employees. When your employees become excited and involved, it benefits everyone, including the organization as a whole.
  • Reward and Retain– corporate America is a cutthroat world, and talented people leave all the time for something just a little bit better. To continue to grow as an organization, you must retain and reward the employees that have helped your organization get to where it is.
  • Performance Measuring– this aspect of HR is so vital to continued growth and development of not only your employees, but also the organization itself. Establishing effective and thorough performance measuring methods that your HR can use will help give constructive feedback on things your employees are doing well and things that can be improved on. Everyone loves hearing when he or she has done a great job at something; the delicate situation is how to handle feedback of something that can be improved upon. This is where building those relationships with the employees comes into play, and constructive feedback will be taken so much better if a trusting relationship has been established.

Recruiting: the Most Important Role

Unless you’re a self-employed, one-person business, you have employees. Without employees, you have no business and no means to provide the service or product that you offer. Your employees are a huge determining factor of how successful your organization will be. Your HR department’s most important responsibility is the recruiting and hiring of new employees that will fit in your organization and help it grow by bringing new knowledge, talents, and excitement. Here are ways that your HR can improve upon when it comes to recruiting and hiring the best people for your organization.

Improve Your Candidate Pool– take the time to develop relationships with university placement offices, recent graduates are some of the best to hire. They are full of energy, eager to learn and strive to make a name for themselves as they gain their first experience in the real world. Also, keep an eye out for collegiate athletes that are entering the workforce, many surveys of some of the top companies in the US and the world hire athletes because of the qualities and characteristics they possess from playing sports.

Pay attention to online job boards, like Indeed or, for candidates who post resumes that may not have applied to you directly. These two ways can directly improve the quality of your candidate pool.

Look In-House– sometimes internal candidates are overlooked or not even considered for open positions because they are doing a great job in their current position. However, it’s important to examine your internal employees that have expressed interest in lateral or promotional opportunities. HR knows your employees’ track record; they have established relationships with them, and they’ve already hired them once. If you are struggling to find the right candidate for the position, don’t be afraid to look internally. Also, by providing internal opportunities to your employees, it increases your staff’s morale and lets them know that their talents, capabilities, and accomplishments are appreciated and rewarded.

Hire the Best Person You Can– while many suggest that you hire an individual that has worked in the same industry with the exact same position and operated within a similar cultural structure of business. In theory, that sounds great but not always practical when you have a business to run, and the job is left unfilled for a period of time while your HR is waiting for the “perfect” fit. Hire the best person you can. HR should know what skills and background experience are necessary to fill each and every position at your organization. Also, taking the time to train a brilliant candidate that may not possess everything you are looking for but has an impressive resume and track record of performance may pay off. Bringing in a fresh perspective and a new way of thinking about problems and situations to your organization may be just what you need in taking that next step of growth. You can always train and teach the specifics of the job. However, it is not as easy to teach intelligence.

Reputation– focus on being a great employer and you will attract the talent that you want and need. Things that make great employers are retention, motivation, accountability/responsibility, reward/recognition, work-life balance, compensation, and promotion. You and your HR department should strive always to be improving in these aspects. Not only will your current employees be happier, but also the word will spread that you have become a great employer to work for.

Compensation– if you want to grow as an organization, you have to beat your competitors. Perhaps one of the biggest determining factors for potential employees to choose one organization over another is compensation. If you want to recruit the best talent, you will have to be prepared to pay for what you want. Invest in your employees, whether it is the wages your pay, the training you provide or the environment you create, and you’ll see the benefits.

While all these ideas on how to perform more efficient and effective from an HR department standpoint, the only way to help your organization is to put them into practice. Find the aspects you can improve on, invest in your employees and watch your organization grow. Remember always to keep the human in human resources, because without your employees; you have no organization. Human resources are a crucial and impactful department of any organization, large or small and it is important to keep that in mind as your business grows.

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