Human resources is a term with which many organizations describe the combination of traditionally administrative personnel functions with performance, Employee Relations and resource planning. The field draws upon concepts developed in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Human resources has at least two related interpretations depending on context. The original usage derives from political economy and economics, where it was traditionally called labor, one of four factors of production. The more common usage within corporations and businesses refers to the individuals within the firm, and to the portion of the firm's organization that deals with hiring, firing, training, and other personnel issues. This article addresses both definitions.
The objective of Human Resources is to maximize the return on investment from the organization's human capital and minimize financial risk. It is the responsibility of human resource managers to conduct these activities in an effective, legal, fair, and consistent manner.
Human resource management serves these key functions:
An important controversy regarding labor mobility illustrates the broader philosophical issue with usage of the phrase "human resources": governments of developing nations often regard developed nations that encourage immigration or "guest workers" as appropriating human capital that is rightfully part of the developing nation and required to further its growth as a civilization. They argue that this appropriation is similar to colonial commodity fiat wherein a colonizing European power would define an arbitrary price for natural resources, extracting which diminished national natural capital.
The debate regarding "human resources" versus human capital thus in many ways echoes the debate regarding natural resources versus natural capital. Over time the United Nations have come to more generally support the developing nations' point of view, and have requested significant offsetting "foreign aid" contributions so that a developing nation losing human capital does not lose the capacity to continue to train new people in trades, professions, and the arts.
An extreme version of this view is that historical inequities such as African slavery must be compensated by current developed nations, which benefited from stolen "human resources" as they were developing. This is an extremely controversial view, but it echoes the general theme of converting human capital to "human resources" and thus greatly diminishing its value to the host society, i.e. "Africa", as it is put to narrow imitative use as "labor" in the using society.
In a series of reports of the UN Secretary-General to the General Assembly over the last decade [e.g. A/56/162 (2001)], a broad inter sectoral approach to developing human resourcefulness has been outlined as a priority for socio-economic development and particularly anti-poverty strategies. This calls for strategic and integrated public policies, for example in education, health, and employment sectors that promote occupational skills, knowledge and performance enhancement.
In the very narrow context of corporate "human resources", there is a contrasting pull to reflect and require workplace diversity that echoes the diversity of a global customer base. Foreign language and culture skills, ingenuity, humor, and careful listening, are examples of traits that such programs typically require. It would appear that these evidence a general shift to the human capital point of view, and an acknowledgment that human beings do contribute much more to a productive enterprise than "work": they bring their character, their ethics, their creativity, their social connections, and in some cases even their pets and children, and alter the character of a workplace. The term corporate culture is used to characterize such processes.
The traditional but extremely narrow context of hiring, firing, and job description is considered a 20th century anachronism. Most corporate organizations that compete in the modern global economy have adopted a view of human capital that mirrors the modern consensus as above. Some of these, in turn, deprecate the term "human resources" as useless.
In general the abstractions of macro-economics treat it this way - as it characterizes no mechanisms to represent choice or ingenuity. So one interpretation is that "firm-specific human capital" as defined in macro-economics is the modern and correct definition of "human resources" - and that this is inadequate to represent the contributions of "human resources" in any modern theory of political economy.
In terms of recruitment and selection it is important to consider carrying out a thorough job analysis to determine the level of skills/technical abilities, competencies, flexibility of the employee required etc. At this point it is important to consider both the internal and external factors that can have an effect on the recruitment of employees. The external factors are those out-with the powers of the organization and include issues such as current and future trends of the labor market e.g. skills, education level, government investment into industries etc. On the other hand internal influences are easier to control, predict and monitor, for example management styles or even the organizational culture.
In order to know the business environment in which any organization operates, three major trends should be considered:
In regard to how individuals respond to the changes in a labour market the following should be understood:
While recruitment methods are wide and varied, it is important that the job is described correctly and that any personal specifications are stated. Job recruitment methods can be through job centres, employment agencies/consultants, headhunting, and local/national newspapers. It is important that the correct media is chosen to ensure an appropriate response to the advertised post.
Human Resources Development is a framework for the expansion of human capital within an organisation. Human Resources Development is a combination of Training and Education that ensures the continual improvement and growth of both the individual and the organisation. Adam Smith states,“The capacities of individuals depended on their access to education”.Kelly D, 2001Human Resources Development is the medium that drives the process between training and learning. Human Resources Development is not a defined object, but a series of organised processes, “with a specific learning objective” (Nadler,1984) Human Resources Development is the structure that allows for individual development, potentially satisfying the organisation’s goals. The development of the individual will benefit both the individual and the organisation. The Human Resources Development framework views employees, as an asset to the enterprise whose value will be enhanced by development, “Its primary focus is on growth and employee development…it emphasises developing individual potential and skills” (Elwood, Holton and Trott 1996) Human Resources Development can be in-room group training, tertiary or vocational courses or mentoring and coaching by senior employees with the aim for a desired outcome that will develop the individual’s performance. A successful Human Resources Development program will prepare the individual to undertake a higher level of work, “organised learning over a given period of time, to provide the possibility of performance change” (Nadler 1984). Human Resources Development is the framework that focuses on the organisations competencies at the first stage, training, and then developing the employee, through education, to satisfy the organisations long-term needs and the individuals’ career goals and employee value to their present and future employers. Human Resources Development can be defined simply as developing the most important section of any business its human resource by, “attaining or upgrading the skills and attitudes of employees at all levels in order to maximise the effectiveness of the enterprise” (Kelly 2001). The people within an organization are its human resource. Human Resources Development from a business perspective is not entirely focused on the individual’s growth and development, “development occurs to enhance the organization's value, not solely for individual improvement. Individual education and development is a tool and a means to an end, not the end goal itself”. (Elwood F. Holton II, James W. Trott Jr).