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The Benefits of Human Resource Management and the Evolution of HR

The benefits of human resource management in an organisation cannot be debated. Any business owner, CEO or manager of a well-run organisation will agree that one of the most valuable assets to their business is their staff.

The term “human resources” is used to describe the people who work within an organisation as well the department that serves to look after the needs of those people.

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These are the people who work for an organisation and produce the products and carry out the services provided by the organisation.

In the past, the term “personnel” was used to describe employees. In some organisations which have not yet fully evolved are still using this term.

The term "human resources" when referring to staff came from organisations choosing to see their employees as their most valuable and important resources.

The Evolution of the Term “Human Resources”

The term was initially built on an idea by Charles Babbage and Robert Owen in the 18th Century, during the industrial revolution.

These men held the belief that people are crucial to the success of any organisation and that the well-being and satisfaction of employees would encourage them to fulfill their tasks perfectly.

The modern use of the term dates back to the 1960’s and since then, it’s used to describe both the employees of an organisation, as well as the department allocated to look after the needs of the employees.

However, using the term to describe employees has been the subject of many controversial conversations.

Some believe that it identifies humans as objects in the same way that one would refer to building materials, for example. With this perceived objectification, comes the fear that employees will be treated poorly and as mere objects at the disposal of an organisation.

Therefore, in an attempt to sidestep any conflict which may arise from using the term to describe employees, you may hear organisations referring to their staff as associates, team members or members of the organisation.

These terms allow employees to feel equally valued by their colleagues, regardless of their respective positions or roles in the workplace.

The Other Definition of Human Resources

The term is also widely used to describe the department responsible for all matters related to employees in the organisation.

The HR department is there to hire, train, pay, motivate, engage, manage and satisfy employees and through this, employee retention rate remains high. 

The benefits of human resource management are far reaching and complex. However, the main advantages of adequate HR management include:

  • Employee satisfaction – Happy employees are motivated employees
  • Training and development – Improve skills within the workforce and motivate employees to grow
  • Conflict resolution – Objective resolving of conflict between colleagues and departments. This allows employees to feel valued
  • Employee turnover improved – Ensuring from the start that the right person is employed for the job will prevent people from leaving shortly after being hired
  • Employee performance improved – When employees feel looked after, they automatically want to perform at their best.

It is however, important for organisations to remember that the HR department is not solely responsible for producing results in all the above-mentioned areas.

Department managers and supervisors are required to be actively involved with their team members. Daily engagement is necessary to maintain a healthy working relationship between all members of the organisation.

HR departments are responsible for providing the framework, programs, procedures, training and processes required for the organisation to ultimately reach its goals.

The Role of Human Resource Management Team

The three main roles of an HR team, as identified by American Dr. Dave Ulrich, a professor of business and HR thought leader, are:

  • Change champions
  • Employee advocates
  • Strategic partners

According to Dr. Ulrich, everything the department of human resources does must add value to the organisation.

Furthermore, HR practices must take into consideration all relevant external business conditions. “This direction needs to be connected to the business – both the business context which shapes decision making and specific stakeholders around whom business strategies are created" says Dr. Ulrich.

Staying focused on internal strategies alone, such as hiring, communication and compensation is not what will add the most value to an organisation and shows a lack of will to align the organisation with forward-thinking practices.

Sourcing, developing and retaining talent, advocating culture within the organisation and organisational leadership are areas the HR management team must focus on.

Transformation can only take place when out-dated practices are thoroughly addressed. These practices include lack of performance appraisals, discriminative hiring practices, top-down management and micromanagement to name a few.

A New Approach to Human Resources

While organisations rethink the term “human resources” when referring to their employees, in the same breath, a new term for the HR management team should also be considered.

There are many terms being used by the more forward-thinking organisations in an attempt to send a positive message to their employees.

However, more important than what an organisation calls its employees is the way it treats them.

Employees want their employers to:

  • Acknowledge their contributions
  • Foster career progress and development
  • Allow their voices to be heard
  • Respect them as peers, rather than workers
  • Offer fair compensation
  • Provide an inclusive work environment
  • Be open and transparent
  • Stay engaged with all team members

Ukomelela - Human Resource Solutions Pretoria

We strive to be one of the best HR consulting companies in Pretoria by offering solutions based upon forward-thinking and transformation.

For more information on our HR consulting services and the benefits of human resource management, contact us.


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