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HR Roles and Responsibilities

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HR Roles and Responsibilities

Post  Pete2002 on Mon Jan 25, 2010 3:31 am

Human resource management is an ever-evolving process, seemingly limited only by our imagination. As the boundaries of business begin to blur, so do the responsibilities of managing the needs of the people who are the building blocks of success. Organizations now must recognize and account for the myriad factors pulling in so many directions. Among these are globalization, technology, diversity, e-business, and ethics. Through examining and understanding the changes both behind and ahead, a successful plan for adjusting to change begins to emerge.

In recent years, the business world has experienced dissolution of borders that previously prevented the easy use of global resources. These borders, although insubstantial, carried big weight for all but the largest of corporations. However, due to advances in technology and the expanding drive to leverage highly productive, low cost labor, even the smallest company must now consider the impact of global human resource management. “Globalization requires HR professionals to work not only across geographic borders, but national, cultural, ethnic, religious, functional, organizational, time, distance, legal, financial, historic, economic and political ones as well” (Glade, Myxter, and Digh, 2005). With so many job functions now available to outsourcing (including HR itself), these professionals must know and understand the many aspects of global management. Tasks that seemed simple in a small workplace can now become difficult challenges.

With advanced technology comes the strain of growth. Where human resource functions in the past were often looked as “pushing paper,” today there is a trend toward highly-skilled individuals with knowledge of all areas of business. One way to help bridge this gap is by using technology. Additionally, new technology in the workplace opens many other concerns that fall into the expertise of this group. Some examples are personal information in email, offering benefit information on the web, and the like. In its internal HR policy, Wisconsin State University documents that “…human resources management will be impacted significantly in the future by changing technology. These changes will occur within the HR function itself but also in terms of the issues HR will need to manage within the organization as a whole” (2005). Technological advances are changing both the world that HR professionals manage and the tools with which they accomplish success. The changes in this arena are fast-paced and challenging.

Diversity in the workplace is not a new concept. From the 1960s onward, this topic has been of top concern to many companies as not only is it morally correct to observe, there can be heavy penalties if guidelines are not followed. It is interesting to note that diversity is becoming more of a necessity than a choice as times in our current business environment change. “With the prospect of aging baby boomers retiring and the desire to reflect the increasingly diverse U.S. population, employers will have to rely on minorities more than ever” (Ruiz, 2006). As we see, what was once the “proper” thing to do is now a trend that we must embrace to keep functioning in many of today’s workplaces. Human resources professionals will need to change management and recruiting practices to attract and retain a diverse workforce.

As the duties placed onto the shoulders of today’s HR professionals, the role of e-business in a company takes a position of helping to ease that burden. Self-service functions in this area have begun to ease some of the administrative paperwork while increasing efficiency that affects the bottom line. The original focus of e-business initiatives directed the benefits of much research onto the customer. However, management quickly began to realize that there are two types of customers – external and internal. “While most of a company's efforts are usually directed toward customers, the human-resources department is challenged with managing and developing strategies for the internal customer-employees and job candidates” (Turek, 2000). One example of this direction is a self-service approach to employee benefit enrollment. This is a win-win situation for both the employee and employer as the former skips some on the complex paperwork processing and the latter has perceived additional control over use of available options.

Being one of the oldest subjects explored in business, the role of ethics plays a weighty part in human resource management. “In the business and economic spheres, many of the most pressing ethical issues involve the employment relationship, such as the rights of employees versus shareholders, employee privacy and monitoring, whistleblowing, pay equity, discrimination, employee safety, anti-union campaigns, and minimum labor standards” (Budd, 2005). Even with the longevity of this topic, standards and practices are evolving to embrace new ways of thinking and account for new legislation. Human resource professionals must maintain perspective on this seemingly simple yet elusively complex subject.

Human resource management is a theme that runs through every company, from large multinational organizations to small startups. In fact, it is more than a theme; it is the glue that holds together any successful company. When looking at a business as a growing, changing entity, examination reveals that this entity is no better than the components that make it up. Those building blocks are the human resources consisting of the leaders, the decision makers, the service representatives, the janitors, the scientists, and the laborers who together form a single, unified force. Without a mechanism to pull these individuals together, chaos would ensue. Human resource management must proactively identify and adjust for many constant changes in the work environment. Among these are globalization, technology, diversity, e-business, and ethics. By realizing and accepting the dynamic nature of the specialized services provided, professionals in this field play an increasingly important role in the health, stability, and longevity of all businesses.


Budd, J. (2005). The ethics of human resources and industrial relations. Retrieved June 19, 2006, from

Glade, B., Myxter, L., and Digh, P. (2005). HR leaders face new global demands: Are you cross-culturally competent? Retrieved June 15, 2006, from

Ruiz, G. (2006, May). The art and science of recruiting a diverse workforce. Workforce Management. Retrieved June 18, 2006, from

Turek, N. (2000). Automation transforms human resources. Information Week.

Wisconsin State University. (2005). Human resource support and development plan. Retrieved June 17, 2006, from

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