What Does Human Resources Do? 11 HR Roles and Responsibilities

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 2 August 2021

The human resources department plays an essential role for businesses of all sizes and industries. These professionals hold many responsibilities that support the needs and well-being of an organisation's workforce. If you're considering a career in HR, you may find it helpful to learn more about this department's core duties to assess whether they align with your interests or professional goals. In this article, we discuss 11 key HR roles and responsibilities.

What do HR professionals do?

Human resources professionals manage activities that support an organisation's employees. These duties vary, from managing benefits packages and compensation to overseeing hiring practices and enforcing internal and external workplace policies. HR professionals interact with all levels of staff to ensure their well-being and satisfaction as an employee. For example, they help address workplace conflicts and establish training or programmes to enable their professional development. The department is also responsible for maintaining and filing employee records to help organise company processes and ensure compliance with applicable regulations or laws.

What are the different HR roles?

If you're interested in working within the human resources field, learning about the different roles available can help you understand and assess your options:

Entry-level HR roles

Entry-level HR roles represent jobs that typically require little to no prior experience and minimum education requirements. However, employers' preferred qualifications for these jobs vary, such as requiring specialised skills or certifications. The responsibilities of entry-level HR roles typically focus on routine tasks and administrative duties, often under the direction or supervision of mid-to-upper-level HR professionals. Here are examples of entry-level HR job titles:

  • Human resources intern

  • Human resources assistant

  • Human resources associate

  • Human resources coordinator

Mid-level HR roles

Mid-level HR roles represent jobs that hold leadership or management responsibilities and require at least a few years of experience. They oversee and direct the work performed by entry-level HR employees. For smaller businesses or HR departments, these roles can serve as upper-level roles. These professionals determine the HR department's processes and procedures, some of which affect the whole company. For example, mid-level HR professionals may develop and guide the organisation's recruitment efforts or coordinate the benefits offered to employees. Here are examples of mid-level HR job titles:

  • Human resources manager

  • Human resources administrator

  • Human resources information specialist

  • Human resources generalist

Related: Management Skills: Definition and Examples

Upper-level HR roles

Upper-level HR roles represent jobs with significant management and leadership responsibilities, often requiring at least five to 10 years of experience. These professionals oversee and make decisions for the entire HR department, often aligned with organisational goals and efforts. For example, they may create and implement policies, collaborate with departments to assess the organisation's hiring needs and develop company-wide programmes. They typically report to their organisation's executive-level staff, such as CEOs or vice presidents. Here are examples of upper-level HR job titles:

  • Talent acquisition manager

  • Human resources director

  • Vice president of human resources

  • Chief human resources officer

11 key HR roles and responsibilities

Professionals working with the HR department perform many job duties to support their organisation's success. Here are 11 HR roles and responsibilities:

1. Recruiting job candidates

Human resources departments often work with other departments and leaders to assess the organisation's hiring needs. Together, they collaborate on hiring strategies to identify the external and internal candidates they want to attract. For example, they may seek candidates with particular skills or experience to support departmental or organisational goals. These professionals may also create and advertise job descriptions, review resumes, screen candidates for interviews and manage the onboarding process.

Related: What Is an Onboarding Process for New Employees?

2. Processing employee payroll

While some organisations outsource payroll activities to external providers, others designate this duty to the HR department. With this responsibility, the HR department ensures that the organisation's employees receive accurate payment for the hours they've worked during the pay period. They may also calculate and consider other factors, such as taxes, raises or expenses. These professionals often use payroll software to make these tasks more efficient and HR software that enables employees to review and access payroll information.

3. Overseeing compensation and benefits packages

Employees often receive other benefits in addition to wages, such as sick or maternity leaves, vacation days, retirement fund contributions and healthcare benefits. The HR department is responsible for managing and approving the benefits offered to employees. A competitive benefits and compensation package is crucial for attracting talent. HR professionals research the market and collaborate with management staff to assess the organisation's offerings and adjust them as needed.

HR professionals also perform routine or administrative responsibilities related to compensation and benefits packages, such as tracking and managing employees' days off or notifying them about enrolment periods. When offering healthcare benefits, an HR professional may negotiate with service providers to ensure the organisation and its employees receive optimal rates.

4. Ensuring compliance with laws and regulations

Compliance with labour laws and regulations help businesses maintain safe working conditions and fair employment and pay practices while avoiding workplace dissatisfaction and formal complaints. For example, HR professionals may ensure that policies and employment contracts align with the standards outlined in Singapore's Employment Act, such as the number of hours employees can work or the benefits they can receive. The department may also educate employees about applicable laws and their rights under them.

Related: What Is an Employment Contract?

5. Establishing safe work environments

Along with labour laws and regulations, the HR department ensures its organisation aligns with workplace safety laws. The Workplace Safety and Health Act provides safety guidelines for various work environments and policies for work injury compensation. HR professionals use these guidelines to develop workplace policies and ensure compliance with them by implementing safety training programmes and reporting and managing workplace injuries.

They may also support employees' emotional safety by establishing and enforcing policies related to respectful workplace behaviours. HR professionals might also listen to employees' personal concerns and needs and connect them to helpful resources. Feeling emotionally and physically safe in the workplace can make employees more satisfied at work and establish their trust in the organisation.

6. Developing organisational policies

HR professionals create and implement workplace policies to ensure compliance with applicable labour laws and otherwise support employees. For example, these internal policies can outline appropriate workplace behaviours, ethical practices, dress codes and responsibilities related to attendance and time tracking. The department can collaborate on policies with other departments but is responsible for reviewing and updating policies regularly. They can provide company policies in employee handbooks and internal websites, allowing employees to access them easily.

7. Managing employee relations

The HR department oversees and manages relationships between staff members in the workplace. For example, they help address and resolve conflicts between individuals or an employee and their supervisor. Ensuring positive relationships and employee engagement can help improve and maintain job satisfaction and productivity throughout the organisation. Depending on the workplace, HR professionals may also interact with union organisations. They can help resolve conflicts, negotiate contracts and respond to union plans or campaigns.

8. Performing disciplinary actions

In addition to establishing workplace policies, HR departments enforce them by performing disciplinary actions when employees are not compliant. These professionals develop disciplinary processes and procedures and enforce them fairly across the organisation. The actions taken can vary depending on the situation, though the HR department usually outlines the consequences of violating specific policies within employee handbooks and other workplace materials. For example, an unexplained absence might result in a verbal or written warning. If the employee reaches a specific number of unexcused absences, the company may have a policy that allows it to terminate their employment.

9. Implementing training programmes

HR departments help organise and implement training programmes for an organisation's employees to ensure its success. Like other responsibilities, the department can collaborate with department heads or management staff to assess the company's training needs and develop relevant programmes. These programmes include courses, job rotations or guest lectures aimed at improving employees' hard and soft skills. For example, the company might host a guest speaker who discusses diversity and inclusion in the workplace or offer a training course about leadership skills to managers. Training programmes can also help enforce relevant labour or safety regulations to ensure employees' well-being.

10. Supporting employees' professional development

HR professionals may work closely with individuals or teams to support their professional development. For example, they can help employees set goals and discuss their potential career path at the organisation. Some companies also offer continuing education benefits to their employees, such as tuition assistance or reimbursement. They can also connect them with external classes or training programmes to improve their skills. Supporting employees' professional development can make them feel satisfied at work because it shows the organisation values their talents and wants to see them grow within the company.

Related: Career Goals: How To Set, Examples and Tips for Achieving

11. Encouraging employee engagement

Beyond providing educational or instructional programmes for employees, an HR department organises activities aimed at increasing engagement within the company. For example, they may plan social events or lunches that bring various departments and staff members together to meet and learn from one another. When HR departments promote communication across the organisation, it can help individuals feel more connected and establish a positive work culture. The department can also send out surveys to assess employees' feelings about the organisation or level of engagement. These insights can help inform the department's decisions and offerings.