What Is Human Resource Management?

Definition & Examples of Human Resource Management?

The HR manager and business people have many meetings in the board room.
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Human resource management is the organizational function that manages all of the issues related to the people in an organization. That includes but is not limited to compensation, recruitment, and hiring, performance management, organization development, safety, wellness, benefits, employee motivation, communication, policy administration, and training. 

Learn more about what human resource management is and how it works.

What Is Human Resource Management?

Human resource management is also a strategic and comprehensive approach to managing people and the workplace culture and environment. Done well, it enables employees to contribute effectively and productively to the overall company direction and the accomplishment of the organization's goals and objectives.

The department members provide the knowledge, necessary tools, training, administrative services, coaching, legal and management advice, and talent management oversight that the rest of the organization needs for successful operation. 

Alternate name: Human capital management

Acronym: HRM


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How Does Human Resource Management Work?

HRM staff members are partially responsible for ensuring that the organization has an overall mission, vision, and values that are shared and provide an overarching reason for employees to want to work for their organization. These elements can be inspirational and help employees feel as if they are part of something that is bigger than themselves.

Additional activities sponsored by HRM can include employee and community outreach. They are frequent mentors and members of employee teams that address philanthropic giving, employee engagement activities, and events that involve employee families.


Human resources management has evolved over the years, and it now usually involves contributing to a company's strategic direction and using metrics to measure efforts and demonstrate value.

HRM functions are also performed by line managers who are directly responsible for the engagement, contribution, and productivity of their reporting staff members. In a fully integrated talent management system, the managers play a significant role in and take ownership of responsibility for the recruitment process. They are also responsible for the ongoing development of and retention of superior employees.

HRM is moving away from traditional personnel, administration, and transactional roles, which are increasingly outsourced. The HRM function is now expected to add value to the strategic utilization of employees and to ensure that employee programs recommended and implemented impact the business in positive measurable ways.

Employees who work in HRM must also help keep their employer and company safe from lawsuits and the resulting workplace chaos. They must perform a balancing act to serve all of an organization's stakeholders: customers, executives, owners, managers, employees, and stockholders.

Requirements for Entering Human Resource Management

Those wishing to enter the field of HRM usually need at least a bachelor's degree in human resource management or a related field, such as business management. Some employers may also require candidates to a master's degree in business administration, human resources, or labor relations.

Special certification isn't always necessary to get a job in HRM, but it can help candidates stand out, and some employers may require it. Several professional associations offer these types of certifications:

  • The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) offers the SHRM Certified Professional and SHRM Senior Certified Professional programs.
  • The HR Certification Institute (HRCI) offers several certifications, including Associate Professional in Human Resources, Professional in Human Resources, Senior Professional in Human Resources, and Global Professional in Human Resources. HRCI also offers micro-credential programs on several topics.
  • WorldatWork also offers several certifications in the categories of Compensation, Executive Compensation, Sales Compensation, and Benefits.
  • International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans offers certificates in many areas as well, including benefits and health and welfare plans.

The amount of experience needed depends on the preference of the employer, but most manager-level HRM positions require several years in the field.

The soft skills employers usually require in HRM candidates include leadership, communication, decision-making, organizational, and interpersonal skills.

Key Takeaways

  • Human resource management (HRM) is the function of an organization that handles everything having to do with its people.
  • The HRM department enables employees to contribute effectively and productively.
  • The HRM function has evolved, and it's often expected to add value to the strategic direction of the company.
  • Certification isn't required to get a job in HRM, but it can give candidates an advantage.
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  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "How to Become a Human Resources Manager." Accessed July 3, 2020.

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