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Human Resources: Definition, Roles, Responsibilities

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What is Human Resources?

Human resources, HR, or the personnel department is all about the people who make up your workforce and the skills they bring to your business. The HR department is often known as the epicentre of an organisation and is responsible for finding, recruiting, training, and taking care of the well-being of employees.

HR plays a crucial role in the fast-paced business world of today, where quality talent and employee productivity is a game-changer. They ensure your team has what they need to excel in their day-to-day and create a workplace that attracts and keeps individuals who’ll contribute to business success.

Simply put, HR is about investing in and supporting your most valuable asset – your people.

Roles and Responsibilities of the HR Department

Human resources is very varied. Here are some examples of the HR responsibilities the department usually manages:

  • Recruitment and staffing
  • Employee relations
  • Training and development
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Legal compliance
  • Health and safety
  • Employee engagement
  • HR Information Systems
  • Strategic planning
  • Succession planning
  • Employee communication

How Does HR Support Employees?

HR plays a multifaceted role in supporting employees throughout their professional journey, and its position between employees and business leaders is crucial to fostering a positive workplace culture. Here are some of the ways HR supports employees:

human resources factorial

Career planning

The HR department often actively engages in career planning alongside line managers by helping employees set and achieve their professional goals. Through discussions and often assessments, HR professionals can help to guide individuals in identifying growth opportunities within the organisation, ensuring that employees feel supported and motivated to advance in their careers – both inside and outside the business.

This might sound counterintuitive, but the positive word-of-mouth marketing generated from satisfied employees who’ve moved on to other opportunities can open up a wider, more engaged talent pool for your company.

Managing management

HR is crucial in managing management by liaising between employees, their managers, and leadership. They facilitate effective communication, ensure fair and consistent leadership practices, and address employee concerns to create confidence and trust in the workplace environment and a culture where everyone feels heard and valued.

Employee development

HR manages employee training and development opportunities through developing skills and learning programmes. This means identifying learning needs for individuals and the business by ensuring that employees excel in their current roles and have the tools and knowledge to adapt and grow and ascertaining the mandatory training requirements for legal compliance – all within the ever-evolving business landscape.

Resolving conflicts

Conflict resolution is a crucial aspect of the human resources department. HR professionals provide a neutral ground for employees to voice concerns so they can solve problems and find amicable solutions to mediate and resolve disputes and disagreements. This protects relationships in the business and improves communication while ensuring all employees feel like they have a space to voice any challenges and issues.

Personal issues

HR is also a trusted resource for employees to discuss any personal issues that might be affecting their work. Whether offering guidance, connecting them with appropriate resources, or maintaining confidentiality, HR ensures employees feel supported by the business.

Employment law

Navigating employment law can be complex. HR departments provide crucial assistance by ensuring the organisation complies with labour laws and regulations while guiding employees through legal processes and fostering a healthy work environment full of fairness, transparency, and adherence to legal standards.

Human Resources Jobs

Human Resources (HR) encompasses a broad spectrum of roles, with team structures varying significantly across businesses. Here are some examples of typical roles within different HR functions:

hr functions, definitions

Head of the HR Department

Depending on the organisational structure and business size, the head of HR could be an HR Manager, HR Director, or Chief People officer.

They oversee the entire HR function, develop and implement HR policies and procedures, and develop an HR strategy aligning with organisational goals.


The recruitment function of HR focuses on the hiring process, attracting and hiring qualified candidates. This means creating job descriptions, posting openings, and facilitating and conducting interviews. Someone in a recruitment role will work closely with hiring managers across their business to help fulfil their staffing needs.

HR Business Partner

An HR Business Partner integrates HR strategy with overall business goals – linking HR operations and the wider business. They’re responsible for collaborating with business leaders to address HR needs and act as a strategic advisor to business units.

HR Analyst

Analytics in HR are increasingly important. An HR Analyst is responsible for analysing HR data to provide insights for decision-making. A significant portion of their role will include preparing reports on key HR metrics to help inform workforce planning and forecasting.

HR Specialisms

Alongside these core functions, there are many specialisms within human resources. Which of these roles your business has will depend mainly on its size and business priorities. Here are some examples HR roles and specialisms:

  • Training and Development – Responsible for identifying training and development opportunities needed for career development and designing and delivering training programmes to facilitate employee professional development opportunities.
  • Compensation and Benefits – This role within the HR department goes beyond payroll (which usually sits in Finance) and is responsible for managing salary structures and administering employee benefits. They’ll often do this by conducting salary surveys to ensure competitive compensation and develop a competitive benefits suite, including health insurance, pensions, gym memberships, and flexible working.
  • Employee Relations and EngagementThis role focuses on maintaining positive relationships between employees and the organisation. They’ll help mediate conflicts, address workplace issues, and implement employee engagement initiatives.They also develop and implement initiatives to boost employee morale, conduct surveys to assess employee satisfaction and organise team-building activities and events.
  • Diversity and Inclusion – This role centres around promoting diversity and inclusion within the workplace. They’ll be responsible for developing strategies to create an inclusive workplace culture and implementing programs to support diversity initiatives.

Digitising HR

Digitising HR, or digital transformation, refers to leveraging digital technologies and tools to streamline and enhance different aspects of human resource management within an organisation. This transformation involves using technology to optimise HR processes, improve efficiency, and provide better experiences for both HR professionals and employees. Here are some key aspects of digitising HR:

hr features, factorial

  • Automating routine HR tasks such as payroll processing, benefits administration, and time tracking.
  • Adopting cloud-based HR software and platforms that enable centralised storage of HR data and employee records that are accessible from anywhere while also facilitating collaboration, data security, and efficient information retrieval.
  • Providing self-service portals where employees can access and update their personal information, view payslips, request time off, and access relevant HR documents.
  • Leveraging data to analyse workforce trends, employee performance, and other HR metrics make informed decisions and optimise HR strategies.
  • Using digital tools for the entire recruitment process, including applicant tracking systems, video interviews, and online assessments.
  • Implementing online employee training and development platforms allows organisations to deliver and track training programs efficiently and support continuous learning.
  • Developing or using mobile applications that enable employees to access HR services on their smartphones. This is especially useful for remote or mobile workforces.
  • Incorporating AI-driven tools and chatbots to handle routine HR inquiries, assist in recruitment, and provide instant employee support.
  • Using digital tools for performance appraisals, goal tracking, and feedback enhances performance management and encourages ongoing communication between managers and employees.
  • Conducting employee surveys through digital platforms to gather feedback on workplace satisfaction, engagement, and areas for improvement.

Factorial provides customisable and user-friendly HR software centralising time, talent, and finance processes. It automates administrative tasks like time off, document management, recruitment, and more, saving businesses time and money.

Factorial is recognised among the Top 50 HR Products of 2023 by G2 and is used by 300,000 employees globally. Its customer-driven approach includes free, dedicated support from product experts and consultancy sessions, and you can build your ideal package with fully customisable modules.

Simplify all your HR processes in one place with our efficient and modern HR and talent management solution.


Jessie is an experienced content creator and copywriter specialising in technology and telecommunications. She comes to the HR technology space keen to exercise a passion for people and the human resources industry.

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