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In-house HR role evolving

THE Human Resources industry has seen some major changes, apart from the emergence of the Internet in the recruitment process.

The most obvious change for HR departments is a move away from the traditional “hiring and firing” role to a downsized department with strategic and policy development roles within the business.

This change is most evident in the new titles given to HR positions within major companies.

HR has evolved into ‘people management’, signifying a response to its new role within an organisation.

It is the business of getting the most from the people that work for your business.

“We went into the people title a couple of years ago” BankWest general manager people and organisational development Tim Ford said.

“I think it’s generally recognised here that people are the resource which will make or break us,” Mr Ford said.

One of the reasons businesses have downsized their in-house HR divisions is a number of these functions are now fulfilled by external providers.

“As a cost priority, non-core functions like recruitment, training and information systems are out-sourced,” Curtin Business School human resource manager, school of management Dr Alan Nankervis said.

“But I think this is something of a false economy, there are different groups doing functions that are all linked and what happens is the links get weaker,” Dr Nankervis said.

A situation can arise where the people devising company strategic policy are not closely involved with recruiting people to work within that model

“The danger is that companies will lose the link between HR functions and strategy.”

In the situation where HR functions are out sourced, the role of the HR department becomes mainly administrative.

However at the other end of the spectrum companies that have moved towards the ‘People Model’ in HR have these departments fulfilling fundamental roles in the development of staff within the organisation.

“If the HR function is looking at developing perspective, mining and creating knowledge, developing an employee’s learning skills, it becomes a role that legitimises learning inside an organisation” Edith Cowan University lecturer School of Management Llandis Barratt-Pugh said.

Company HR departments that have moved into more strategic roles in organisations are active in business development and out of this comes the people development.

“It seems, in some organisations, the change in name is the key indicator, it’s showing in words that they value people,” Mr Barratt-Pugh said.

Research in the area of HR suggests that employees work better when they feel ‘at home’ within their workplace.

It’s a new way of thinking about employees, a move away from considering staff as static resources.

“There’s an expression in the US for HR people, ‘big hat no cattle’ HR doesn’t have any cattle, it needs a strategic hat – to be involved in the processes changing the development of an organisation,” Mr Barratt-Pugh said.

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