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Think human resources, and what comes to mind is the tough-as-nails Catbert, a character from the phenomenally successful comic strip, Dilbert. He's someone who "enjoys crushing the spirit of the company's employees", as the evil director of HR. As far as humor is concerned, everything needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, as with the character of Catbert, who manages to turn every employee's life into a nightmare with his devious policies.

Of course, things are well-exaggerated and far from the truth in this comic strip. Nevertheless, the fact that so many find Catbert amusing, and identify with his behavior goes to show the kind of image that HR personnel have been laden with. It's unfair to associate their work with monstrosity, as a department used by the management to send out veiled reprimands.

The HR department has a lot on its hands, and topping the list is the delicate task of acting as a liaison between the employees and the management. What follows is a brief description of the various functions performed by the HR department.
Functions of Human Resource Department
Recruitment
By far the most important of all the duties covered by the human resource team, recruitment takes up a large chunk of the company's priorities. Recruitment begins with making the company's presence felt in the job market by advertizing vacancies, participating in job fairs, or hovering around the university circuit.

Choosing the appropriate people from a large pool of applicants is a tremendous responsibility. This involves an acute sense of perceptiveness while sifting through the hoards of applications that come a company's way.

After the shortlisting procedure is over, the HR department moves on to the task of scheduling and conducting interviews. Here, the HR managers have to assess the candidate on various levels, right from their educational qualifications and talent, to their character traits. They may also have to apply various methods of evaluation to zero in on the right people for the job. Conducting background checks on the selected candidates may also come under the aegis of the HR department.
Motivation
An important task that the HR department executes is motivating the employees to excel at what they do. Motivation for the employees, comes mostly in the monetary form. The HR department has to evaluate employee performances, and devise an appropriate rewarding system. This can include the following --
  • Equities
  • Bonuses
  • Increments
  • Awards
  • Complimentary vacations
  • Flexibility in working hours
The HR team, through its motivational programs should seek to maximize employee retention statistics, and instill a sense of bonding among the organization and the employees.
Planning Growth
The HR policies, ideally, should be working in tandem with the company's policies. However, this may not always happen. Nevertheless, the HR department has to ensure that there is minimal conflict of interest, and that everyone contributes to the overall success of the company.

Human resource is the biggest asset of any organization, and it is up to the HR team to make the most of it by implementing training programs to better the employee performance, and ensure that each employee strives to utilize his/her optimum ability.

This can be done by promoting interaction among the employees that results in a healthy exchange of ideas and cultivates a good working environment. Also, employees must be encouraged to be more proactive when it comes to devising ways to increase the output.
Implementing HR Policies
HR policies cover employee safety and welfare. The HR team has to oversee all aspects of rendering a safe and healthy environment for the company. This includes periodic checks of all equipment, materials, and work spaces.

They also have to implement various employee welfare schemes that offer assistance to employees at different levels. These may include maternity/paternity leave, work-from-home options, insurance schemes, employee welfare funds, recreational activities, etc.

Promotions, transfers or expulsion of services are also tasks handled by the human resource department. Promotions are conducted and are predominantly based on the overall performance of the individual, accompanied by the span or tenure he/she has served the organization.

The human resource department also looks at lowering the attrition rate in the company by introducing policies that offer a good working environment with suitable remuneration.
Establishing Fair Work Culture
It is usually the HR team that has to deal with and sort out employee grievances. At times, if situations get aggravated, the company or the employee may take the legal discourse to settle disputes. An important function of the HR department is to iron out the disputes and differences in an amicable manner, as far as possible. However, complaints involving malpractice, treachery, fraud, harassment, etc., should be dealt in an appropriate manner, in line with the company's policy.
The HR department has to ensure that discrimination does not exist in the workplace. The employees and members of the management should be made aware of the existing anti-discrimination policies. They have to see to it that every person working for the organization is treated on a fair and equal platform.