Human Resources as a core function: Worthy of the word?

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“The best way to predict your future is to create it”
― Peter Drucker

One thing that’s really fascinating about human resources as a department is the wide area of influence it represents on the company level. There is almost virtually no process or activity where HR isn’t included, even on the smallest scale. For the audience which already understands the basic principle of HR as a department, this is quite the common sense. For the sake of better understanding, the point of this article is to better understand how HR connects every company thread and unifies the common goal. On the surface, many think the activity of employing or laying someone off is the most end all be all of HR job description but it’s obviously much more complex and interesting than that. The evolution of HR into a strategic partner on the company level over the years is a testament to that. Let’s try and elaborate on what exactly the point of HR is and how it presents a core function within a company and allows the business goals to be successfully met.

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Human resources – a description without words

The definition of HR function

The most important factor in any business is none other than workforce, a capital which a business can’t function without, a human capital.  We can simply define human resources function as a means to utilize said human capital with the purpose of achieving business goals. While this simplifies things to an extreme level, if you add „how“ to the equation, it becomes anything but simple. „How“ is where the fun begins and where the different HR spheres come into play, tying one huge web of connected activities which together positively make things happen for business growth. To specify some of the core activities, these include recruitment; the first and foremost action of employing new workforce into the company, the aforementioned human capital that drives everything. Then you have payroll or compensation/benefits portion of executing the function in basic human motivation for labor, which is the salary and any other benefit with financial aspect to it. Operations, the administrative activity which heavily emphasizes the legal part of HR and essential component in making the end labor possible for each employee individually. Performance management is a huge part in bigger companies because it represents how well the business goals are achieved, or in grimmer situations, not achieved. Said performance can’t be properly addressed if there is no Training & Development activity within the HR so that adds another layer of workforce excellence and a strategy of its own. These are just the main categories the usual HR departments are comprised of and are open to different structure, depending on the company. All of it connects to other departments, one way or another, but how?

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Connecting departments and aligning purpose – Human resources

Connecting other departments

Each of the aforementioned HR spheres/activities involve other departments to either ask HR for assistance or be directly involved in the process. Recruitment is one of the those processes in which more than one stakeholders have to be involved. HR acts as an advisor here in most cases while the hiring manager makes the final decision, with exceptions in mind. Since HR bears responsibility for the execution of delivering salaries, it’s no wonder the other departments are constantly in contact with them. HR business partners in large companies hold dominion of the overall salary costs which the line managers can use and payroll specialists are the ones who can make corrections in the timesheets. It’s the same with performance management and any training related tasks because HR processes these as per normal duty but line managers have to take notice of this because it directly affects their own performance through the performance of their subordinates. Strategic human resources leaders are in direct contact with the Board of executives because in most cases the overall development of the company is in the hands of HR departments and that in itself influences and guides other departments.

Support or core function: either, or, both?

One thing that is also interesting and intriguing is that while HR is one of the main factors driving the business forward, it also acts as a support function and is addressed as such in many organizations. Many claims above make HR both the core and support function deeming it complete in its overall effect. What that means essentially is that HR as a department is business in itself as well as that business is HR in turn. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that no organization can survive without proper HR function within.


As I was writing this article, I kept thinking of not demeaning other functions/departments in the process and by no means is that anywhere near the intention when describing why HR is basically the core company driver. But to call it like it is, HR connects all of the important aspects of running a business into a one coherent, effective machine which produces results. Acting as both support and core function, it is there to make sure that the human capital is rounded in its ability to be successful in their performance, be it strategic, operational or between the lines. Nowadays it’s almost certain that any company has some strategic HR activities/department in place, as it always should have.

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