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The Evolution of HR Management: How It Has Changed and Why It Matters

Team Kissflow

Updated on 25 Mar 2024 6 min read

Human resources (HR) management is one of the most important functions of any organization, offering a number of opportunities to contribute positively toward continued business success.

But, a key part of this is the ability of the HR team to provide services to the business that are efficient, meaningful, and value-adding. In this article, we will explore some key themes around HR management, as well as how you can ensure that your HR function is operating at the top of its game to support the work of the wider organization.

What is HR management?

Human resource management is an umbrella term that is used to describe activities that take place in business around the management and development of its employees. The function oversees all of the aspects relating to its people, from the point at which they are recruited to when they leave the organization, otherwise known as the full employee lifecycle.

Key operative functions of HR management

Because HR management covers so many stages of the employee lifecycle, there are consequently various functions within an HR department. The majority are firmly linked to each other and overlap in many respects. How the functions of an HR department are split very much depends on the size and culture of the business and much variety exists, but here are some of the most common areas:

1. Recruitment and onboarding

This area of HR management deals with the many activities that take place in the hiring of a new employee. The first step is scoping out a job description. Marketing the vacancy to source candidates may involve direct advertising online, with other media outlets, or working with a recruitment or headhunting agency.

Applicants are then screened and shortlisted against the job specification before interviews are carried out and an offer of employment is made to the successful candidate. Once a candidate has been made an offer, a contract of employment and other offer documents are generated and sent to the new employee. Next, the HR team works in conjunction with the new employee’s line manager to arrange their induction and training program.

2. Compensation and benefits

This includes administering and running payroll, calculating and paying bonuses, and administering the benefits schemes that the company offers, such as private medical insurance, pensions, etc. Some of these tasks involve detailed and ongoing liaison with third-party partners.

3. Performance management

Performance management involves creating simple yet effective performance management processes, template forms, and scoring systems. Managers must track performance levels across their teams and implement initiatives to improve poor work and drive good progress across the business.

4. Learning & Development (L&D)

The work of the L&D function of HR management includes sourcing or designing training courses to meet learning needs, organizing coaching, and mentoring programs and other initiatives to improve job performance across employees and teams.

5. Workforce management and succession planning

Strategic HR management involves working with the senior leadership team to identify future plans, opportunities, and challenges that may affect the business. The HR function can then implement an effective strategy to ensure that the people aspect of the company is able to meet these future changes.

This involves identifying the key roles that will be critical to business success in the future and how to best fill them using both internal and external candidates.

What are the differences between strategic HR management, core HR, and HR support systems?

The HR team is expected to wear many different hats, performing duties to meet the needs of the business in a variety of ways. Strategic HR refers to how the HR department works to add measurable value to the business.

Typically, the Head of HR or the HR Director works closely with the Managing Director to draw up a clear strategy aligned to the wider organizational one, with clearly defined goals. High-level goals within strategic HR management could include reducing employee turnover, cutting recruitment costs, etc.

Core HR, also known as operational HR, relates to the day-to-day tasks the HR function needs to perform to keep the business going. Examples include running payroll, producing contracts and offer documents, or arranging training courses.

HR support systems are the key areas in which HR works in direct partnership with other areas of the business to keep it running smoothly. This could be through employee training and coaching to improve performance, or via disciplinary and grievance procedures.

What are the objectives of HRM?

HR management can broadly be split into four main objectives as follows:

Organizational objectives

This is work done by the HR function to improve the efficiency and performance of the business. Examples include ensuring high levels of employee retention and providing training courses.

Societal objectives

This relates to the HR department’s efforts to comply with the ethical and social aspects of the business, such as ensuring high standards of equal opportunities for employees.

Functional objectives

The HR department needs to maintain clear guidelines to keep the organizational operating legally and effectively. An example could be ensuring that the resources of the HR team are being used to their full potential.

Personal objectives

These objectives relate to providing each employee with the opportunity to meet his or her individual goals, such as offering good learning and development initiatives and other ways of maintaining high employee satisfaction and motivation.

What are the best practices that can empower HR managers?

Considering the level of impact inefficient HR practices can leave on the organization’s bottom line, HR managers need to ensure they get it right. Getting to know and implementing field-tested best practices across a wide range of industries, can help HR managers achieve tangible savings faster.

Listed below are some of the widely-adopted HR management best practices:

  1. Properly document your HR processes and policies
  2. Draft clear HR policies and stick to them, always
  3. Automate your HR management processes
  4. Challenge and sell the idea of HRM to your management
  5. Offer relevant training programs to all stakeholders
  6. Avoid excessive rigidity but strive to be consistent
  7. Evaluate your HR processes frequently

Are standalone HR apps or cloud-based HR software best for your business?

The growth and popularity of HR software over the last decade have been staggering. As a result, many organizations have ended up with a number of standalone HR tools to manage different parts of the HR process. However, there is an increasing number of robust cloud-based HR systems that are able to handle the whole range of HR activities, from tracking applicants through the recruitment process to arranging training initiatives and managing the business succession plan.

Using one piece of software to handle all of this has distinct advantages. First, it means that all data held in the system can be integrated automatically, saving time and improving data integrity and accuracy. Second, it is often considerably cheaper to use one cloud-based HR system in place of a number of standalone apps — both in terms of system fees and time saved from employees working with one system in place of multiple ones.

Top 5 HRM software to manage the hire to retire lifecycle

With so many options in the HR software market, it can be hard to know where to start when looking to invest. Here are our top picks of HRM systems:

1. BambooHR

Well regarded web-based HR software that is ideally suited to smaller businesses, it offers an off-the-shelf format with built-in, simple-to-use functionality to implement it with minimum work. It, therefore, allows businesses to get started using it quickly.

2. Kissflow HR Cloud

Kissflow HR Cloud offers its clients a range of HR applications from recruitment and onboarding to performance and leave management. It features state-of-the-art built-in functionalities but also highly customizable options.
These functions allow organizations of all shapes and sizes to design automated workflows that match their existing processes perfectly and replace laborious and time-consuming manual processes with streamlined, simplified automation.

3. Zoho People

Zoho People is part of the wider Zoho business applications system. It offers the entire range of HR functionalities such as performance management, time and attendance, and compensation and benefits administration.

One of the main advantages of this software is the fact that you can easily integrate it to the other business apps provided by Zoho to create a customized and smooth-running suite of functionalities across the whole business.

4. People

This software is a good choice for organizations of all sizes looking for a cloud-based HR tool with the functionality to manage the full spectrum processes, from applicant tracking to robust holiday and leave calculations and expenses logs. Customized workflows are easy to create in order to automate many of the more repetitive manual HR processes.

5. Lanteria HR

Ideal for medium to larger companies, Lanteria offers a comprehensive range of features across the full employee lifecycle, with several separate dashboards so you can compare performance across different HR areas such as attendance and recruitment.

With a high volume of quality reporting features available, it is quick and easy to evaluate performance across a range of HR metrics.

Get smart with the best HR management tool for your organization

HR Functions are more complex than ever, with higher expectations in terms of the value they offer. Thus, it is crucial to ensure that the HR management in your company is operating at the highest possible level, offering value-adding solutions that benefit the whole business.

HR software can play a big role in improving the productivity, quality, and effectiveness of the whole function and is a vital way to stay ahead of the competition. If you’re on the hunt to find the best HR management tool for your organization, start with a free trial of Kissflow HR Cloud and see how effortless HR management can be.