Human resources automation may be catching on as a relatively new phenomenon in business, but HR itself is not a new concept. In one form or another, human resource management has for many years continued to be a significant part of running any organization, although it may have been called by different names in different periods or under different perspectives.
But whether it’s people management, labor management, or productivity management, we can confidently say that all these related terms come under human resources management and carry a long history of work practices, techniques, management methods, and more. Understanding these basics can help you better realize the potential of your HR automation tools and also identify better ways to optimize your HR management efforts.
Why is human resource management important?
In simple terms, you can define human resource management as the approach you take to managing your workforce. But realistically, HR is much more than just dealing with productivity. It involves everything you do in your organization with respect to people management, the work culture, your work environment, and more. It ensures the people in a workplace are always considered when forming work policies and implementing them.
Whatever goals you set for your business to achieve, it would be almost impossible without a supporting HR management system in place. HR management is responsible for ensuring that your overall mission, vision, and values are communicated with your teams and upheld across your organization.
HR management helps employees stay motivated and inspired to contribute to the organization's goals. Some of the activities organized by HR management include:
- Talent management
- Knowledge management, training, and development of employees
- Employee engagement
- Productivity management
- Payroll and leave management
- Forming work policies such as discipline process, dress code, ethics, internet usage, and more.
- Legal matters about employee management and employee protection
As you can see, all these operations are essential to running a successful workplace, and HR management is required to make sure they are carried out in the best possible ways.
The history of human resource management
It is quite vague as to when the actual term Human Resources came into use. But it is widely believed that it started in the first half of the 1900s and became more prominent in the 1960s. However, the term's usage should not be confused with the role of HR management itself. HR management, in one form or another, has been in practice ever since humans found a way to work together as a group. Collective effort and contribution towards a common goal requires people management, which comes under modern HR management activities.
HR management is not just related to productivity, but often to employee welfare and engagement as well. Some of the earliest laws related to HR management are geared toward employee welfare, such as the 1833 UK Factory Act that regulated factory inspectors and the 1878 act limiting work hours for women and child laborers.
Over the years, numerous legislations, government policies, and workplace culture shifts have shaped how HR management is viewed and carried out.
Key objectives and roles of human resource management
While HR management covers many activities within an organization, it has several specific objectives it needs to work towards. These could be the organization's strategic goals, productivity targets, budgeting goals, and so on. Every HR management has certain things in common and key objectives as below:
- Societal objectives such as the social and ethical needs of the company
- Organizational objectives such as improving retention rates, employee engagement
- Functional objectives such as daily operational efficiency
- Personal objectives that help improve employee satisfaction levels
- Recruitment & selection
Recruitment and selection are big parts of HR management that, when automated, stand to benefit a huge deal. A large part of the recruitment process involves manual work such as resume screening, scheduling meetings, and so on. This all can function more smoothly when automated.
Read on: Don't fear the AI in HR.
Automation ensures manual errors do not occur, and much paperwork and time is saved during recruitment. Here are some more aspects of recruitment and staffing that can be optimized with the help of automation.
Performance management is a way to measure and evaluate an employee's quality of work and contribution. It requires tracking their productive hours, tasks accomplished, feedback, and more. The entire feedback review system to gauge performance can be automated. Instead of the usual annual feedback systems, you can improve employee performance with regular automated review meetings over the year.
Learning & development
HR can set up training programs and knowledge management systems for efficient learning and development for the employees.
Succession planning is necessary to ensure work does not get stalled just because an employee cannot make it to work. If an employee leaves the organization or takes a leave of absence, there should be a plan B to ensure work continuity is not disrupted.
Compensation & benefits
If there is one strong motivator that can bring out the best in employees, it would be the justified compensation and benefits that the employee receives in return for all their efforts. HR management is responsible for ensuring employee satisfaction is maintained with reasonable rewards and remuneration.
Human resource information system
HRIS is a system that helps integrate the various activities of HR such as recruitment, remuneration, training, and knowledge management, under one integrated platform or tool. This information system allows for better information flow and helps organize all HR activities from one place.
HR data & analytics
The best part of automation is the huge amount of data it can help you gather and work upon. You can make better decisions about your HR policies, work arrangements, and more with reliable data insights. It helps you substantiate your HR decisions and strategize your workforce towards better efficiency and optimization.
Read on: Which KPIs to watch to boost your HR.
What skills should an HR manager have?
HR managers are responsible for carrying out HR tasks and functions. They must ensure that the objectives of HRM are achieved; as a result, the role requires skills that allow them to carry out these functions.
They must have the relevant knowledge and technical skills in areas such as:
- Employee recruitment, talent management
- Career development
- Compensation and rewards
- Labor law compliance
- Succession planning
- Employee engagement
And in general, they need to possess certain soft skills and tech skills that are closely related to carrying out their responsibilities as an HR manager. These include skills such as:
- People management,
- Communication skills
- Interpersonal conflict management
- Employee onboarding
- HR information system experience
- Customer service
- Project management
- Decision-making skills
- Analytical skills
Different titles of HR managers
While HR managers might have common responsibilities across organizations, their titles could vary depending on their area of expertise, the actual daily operations they are responsible for, and their level in the organizational hierarchy. Some of the titles of an HR manager include:
- Chief diversity officer
- HR director
- Recruitment director
- Recruiting manager
- Compensation and benefits manager
- HRIS specialist
- HR coordinator
- Onboarding manager
Why use HR software?
HR software allows for easy information access across the organization and helps with easy automation of HR tasks. Many HR software tools provide specific features or modules for each HR function, allowing for more efficient workflows and saving time and cost.
Features of HR Software
While everything that you can do with your manual HR process can be a feature, most packaged HR software has the following essential features:
- Centralized database of information system
- Automated leave management
- Payroll management
- Performance evaluation
- Employee benefits administration
- Workflow automation
- Employee self-service portal and tools
- HR reporting
- Talent management/applicant management/recruitment
- Data analytics and data management
- Time tracking
Read on: 8 ways Vault can help your HR department.
Automation of HR processes
A large amount of effort involved in the HR processes consists of paperwork and manual data entry. When these repetitive tasks are automated, it brings greater efficiency and optimization into HR workflows. Automation can also be expanded to streamline the information flow across the organization. It can help HR find easier ways to communicate across the teams and manage multiple tasks more efficiently.
Automation allows more time for critical decision-making and strategizing, increasing productivity and employee satisfaction levels.
Here are some benefits of adopting HR automation:
- Increased productivity
- Improved employee retention
- Better adherence to compliances
- Data security and better data management
- Efficient recruitment process
- Informed business decisions with the use of business analytics and data insights.
Read on: Top 7 HR automation tools of 2022.
How to become a human resource manager
Becoming a human resource manager is a combination of both a qualifying degree and experience in the human resources department. As a graduate, you can apply for entry-level HR manager posts. Most often, recruiters will look for a bachelor's degree, preferably related to human resources, and also look at your communication skills.
For experienced candidates, expertise in any HR function or general HR operations could be considered an advantage. You could also strengthen your resume with relevant skill certifications.
How do I get a human resource certification?
You can get Human Resource certifications by taking up a certifying exam or as part of any online or offline courses offered by HR institutions.
Here are some well-renowned online HR courses and certifications you can check out:
- HR Management Certification
- Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP)
- Certified Professional (SHRM-CP)
- Professional in Human Resources (PHR)
- HR Management and Analytics Program by Wharton School of Business
- Human Resources Management by eCornel
Is a certificate in human resources worth it?
Human resource certifications add credibility to your career profile and can help secure a good HR position in a company. It can also lend you a helping hand when trying to move upwards in a managerial hierarchy in your current organization. You could also negotiate for better pay and gain more confidence when you have certifications to back up your HR skills.
Where to widen your HR knowledge
The HR world is ever expanding, and there is always something new to learn, be it new management principles or the latest technology that could make your job more efficient. Here are some resources you can check out to keep honing your HR skills:
Best human resource management blogs
Best human resource management books
- The Essential HR Handbook
- Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead
- Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together, and Others Don't
- Rituals for Work: 50 Ways to Create Engagement, Shared Purpose, and a Culture that Can Adapt to Change
- People Processes: How Your People Can Be Your Organization's Competitive Advantage
- People Analytics for Dummies
- The HR Answer Book
Best human resource management podcasts
Vault ERP Knowledge Base
If you’re interested in learning more about HR management and HR automation, this blog is only one of several in a series on HR. Find out more about how to use HR automation and how HR automation can help your hiring process on our blog,
You can also learn about how to use HR automation software on Vault-ERP's knowledge base. Vault offers various HR management modules for HR automation, helping you streamline processes from payroll to evaluations. The steps for all of these processes are documented on Vault’s knowledge base, helping Vault-ERP uses navigate the system with ease.