At first glance, human resources management (HRM or HR) seems fairly simplistic: It’s the management of an organization’s human resources. This definition lacks nuance, however; it doesn’t tell you what your HRM team is really doing—or how they benefit your firm.


As noted, HRM is succinctly defined as the management of a firm’s human resources. “Human resources” refers to the firm’s employees; the resources refer to the capacity and skills of staff to do their jobs and fill positions within the firm. Essentially, HRM refers to the “management” of these resources: training employees to do their jobs more effectively or safely, providing staff with information about corporate policies or a new benefits program, and managing the hiring, firing, and promotion of employees.

But human resources management actually extends even beyond that definition. In fact, HRM encompasses many more key functionalities.


Basic HRM deals with managing the human beings that staff your firm. This would include hiring, firing, and promoting employees. Above that most basic level, this could also mean the HR team engages in talent acquisition, staff training and education, and a mentoring program designed to help employees ready themselves for stepping into successively more senior positions within your firm. Human resources management also deals with workplace conflict, taking complaints and addressing concerns from employees, ensuring fair review procedures, and working with those employees who have violated corporate policy or legislation to remedy their behaviour.


Human resources management also has a financial component. As the administrators of all things related to staffing, HR often deals with payroll, compensation, and benefits. While it may make sense to have accounting deal with the actual ledgers or issuing of cheques, HR staff are more familiar with policies surrounding things such as raises, overtime compensation, vacation pay, and benefits policies. That makes them far more suited to deal with these aspects of managing your firm’s human resources. After all, if your staff members aren’t paid on time, you’re unlikely to have many human resources left to manage.


Human resources management also embraces a good deal of legal expertise. Why? Governments have taken leaps and bounds when it comes to regulating what employers may or may not do. For example, governments may mandate a minimum wage or they may legislate about how overtime compensation is to be determined. They might also create laws surrounding equitable hiring practices, designed to ensure the fair and equitable treatment of all citizens under the government’s domain.

An HR professional must be aware of the legislation and bring his or her corporate policies into line with the letter of the law; if minimum wage is set to be raised on October 1, the HR professional will need to ensure that payroll for all employees making minimum wage is adjusted to reflect the new legal minimum. If an employee is to be hired or fired, the HR department must ensure that they follow the legal framework in managing that process—otherwise, the company could be hit with a lawsuit alleging discrimination, something that no firm wants to deal with.


Human resources sometimes gets a bad rap for being ineffective; HR often represents the main conduit between management and employees. Both sides can be distrustful of the HR “middleman,” as both suspect that HR staff are working in the interests of the other. What is evident, then, is that HRM is a very human enterprise, often looking to the best interests of both the firm and the individuals who staff it. HR may undertake the management of conflict between two employees, ensure the equitable and fair treatment of all employees, or even promote a health and wellness program or an optional training session to learn new skills that will help employees attain their maximum personal potential. Human resources management is a very human occupation indeed.

Felicia Smith

Felicia is the manager of human capital solutions at AugmentHR. With over six years of recruitment experience coupled with multi-faceted HR roles, Felicia is an expert in matching people with the right role and environment. She has worked in many different industries, including investment banking, HR consulting firms, medical, and commercial. Understanding people is one of her strengths, and she has recruited at every level, from directors, project managers, and engineers to operators and general labourers. Her ability to network and develop relationships has been a key tool to her success. With approximately two years of experience managing people and creating a positive work environment, Felicia’s diverse skill set makes her a well-rounded individual. Her business education and background help her identify different business needs and human capital solutions.

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