Human Resources (HR) has come a long way from its origins in the 19th century. Formerly it was known by various names, including “Personnel” and “Industrial Relations,” before it evolved into the strategic resource it has become. HR departments today are much more involved in decisions to help manage and motivate employees. Because of the vital role they play in business, HR professionals now need continuous training to stay current in their field.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest HR professional society. They have identified eight behavioral competencies that are critical to success as an HR professional. These include:
- Ethical Practice,
- Leadership & Navigation,
- Business Acumen,
- Relationship Management,
- Critical Evaluation and
- Global & Cultural Effectiveness
In addition to this, SHRM also recognizes one technical competency (HR Expertise) that all HR professionals must possess. HR managers must stay abreast of endless changes to best practices, as well as ongoing changes to federal and state laws. They must set aside time and resources to complete their own continuous lifelong training, as well as advocating for the training and development of all employees in their organization.
Basic expertise in the HR function is required of all HR professionals. SHRM groups HR expertise into four broad knowledge domains, which include People, Workplace, Organization, and Strategy. Each of these domains are further broken down into 15 functional areas. For example, the People domain includes knowledge of employee engagement, learning & development, total rewards, as well as talent acquisition and retention. HR has come a long way from merely performing transactional work, such as payroll and benefits, to becoming a department that creates business value through the strategic handling of employees within an organization.
Jobs in HR
Within business organizations, HR positions typically fall into the category of either Generalist or Specialist. Generalists must have an extensive range of knowledge, including all aspects of HR work, from answering employee questions to handling grievances. Specialists, by contrast, work in one specific HR function, such as Training & Development, Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS), Employee Assistance Plans, and so forth.
Most HR professionals have a bachelor’s degree in human resources or business administration. However, this degree will only land a new employee into an entry level position. Since HR deals with such a wide range of knowledge, skills, and abilities, acquiring additional training is necessary to become proficient in the field of HR.