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Understanding Human Resources: What is the HR “Gray Area”?

The human resources (HR) department is an essential part of any company’s success and growth. It is essentially the hub of the organization, providing support to employees, employers and customers alike.

Screens depict joining of different tasks responsibilities

In an article by Adam Burroughs, Russ Elliot, Senior Vice President and Human Resources Director at Bridge Bank, explains the complexities of focusing on the objectives and requirements  of the company while making certain the necessities  and prerogatives of the employees are met; he continues to describe how HR responsibilities range from compensation and benefits  to overall organizational efficiency and employee training.

Basic functions of the HR department

Although functions will vary depending on the company and its needs, there are several critical functions all HR departments contribute.

  • Hiring the right employee for the right job
  • Develop programs, such as leadership, mentorship, goals and incentives
  • Administrative duties including the hiring and termination of employees, disciplinary procedures and actions, safety implementation and medical and other employee benefits responsibilities
  • Acting as a bridge between employers, CEOs and the public

Essentially, the HR department is responsible for making sure the company is meeting its legal obligations while maintaining a positive working environment for the staff. They are the people disgruntled employees go to when looking for answers or help for work related issues.

The chain of command in an HR department

Because of the sheer responsibility and duties associated with the HR department, human resources personnel have a strong chain of command. While they are below the CEO and other higher management, their responsibilities at times, also put them in the position of being higher on the chain than their superiors.

When a problem arises with an employee, the employee will first report to their immediate supervisor for results. If the problem cannot be solved there, the next step is usually the HR department. However, at times the problem may be with a supervisor or someone of authority making it difficult to report to them, in which case the individual will go to the HR department for resolutions.

HR - department communication

A gray area exists within the chain of command for most HR departments because this is the one department that not only monitors the best interests of every individual employee, no matter their position or rank, within the company, but the overall interest of the organization, as well. 

HR departments keep companies safe by way of compliance

One of the biggest roles of the HR department is to keep the company, and its employees, safe from financial and physical harm. This department is responsible for putting together safety protocols that also coincide with the state and federal regulations and implementing programs to ensure procedures are being followed.

The procedures are put into place not only to protect employees, but to protect companies from getting sued from faulty equipment, careless acts and other negligent acts that, if had not been protected by signed legal documents, could have cost the company millions of dollars.

The human resources department is one of the most important departments in a company because it regulates every aspect of a company and its employees. CEOs and management depend on them to make sure employees are not abusing their benefits or taking risks that could result in financial disaster, while employee depend on the department to make sure their benefits are being handled correctly and their concerns will be dealt with fairly. Maintaining a healthy and knowledgeable HR department is essential for every business.

 

By Fred Coon, CEO

 

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