What Is a Human Resource Department?

Definition & Examples of a Human Resource Department

Employees shake hands over a table in a human resources department.

 Ariel Skelley

A human resource department is the division of a company that is responsible for effectively managing a company's human resources, which are its employees.

Learn more about what a human resource department does and what sorts of roles an employee there may occupy.

What Is a Human Resource Department?

A company's human resource department is tasked with the training and development of its workers, who are considered some of the company's most important resources.

Also known as human resources (HR), the human resource department's mission is to make sure the company's employees are adequately managed, appropriately compensated, and effectively trained. The department is also responsible for recruiting, hiring, firing, and administering benefits.

How Does a Human Resource Department Work?

A human resource department is involved with making sure the company has a solid roster of employees, who are trained to fulfill their roles and compensated appropriately for doing so.

The human resource department provides effective policies, procedures, and people-friendly guidelines and support. Additionally, the human resource function serves to make sure that the company's mission, vision, and values are part of the company culture.


Sometimes, some of the human resource department's responsibilities may be outsourced, such as payroll administration. This leaves the department more time for focusing on higher-level functions, such as organizational development or hiring strategy.


Locating and recruiting promising candidates is one objective of a human resource department, which uses the company's business goals to guide the recruiting process. They usually evaluate the job which they are hiring for to identify key responsibilities and desired qualifications before writing job descriptions and placing job postings. They funnel qualified candidates to the company and shepherd the candidates along the hiring process, fielding resumes and conducting interviews.


The human resource department extends offers to qualified candidates and negotiates pay and benefits. Making the right hire is a crucial responsibility of the human resource department because of how important a company's employees are to its success. Good hires improve business outcomes and efficiency, so careful vetting of each job candidate, including background checks, is essential.

When the candidate accepts, the human resource department is in charge of the new employee onboarding process.


Once hired, an employee can expect to deal with the human resource department on all manner of administrative tasks, from filling out required paperwork (such as a Form I-9) to navigating employee work schedules.


The human resource department mediates disputes between employees or take care of disciplinary concerns. The department should also ensure that the company is in compliance with all applicable laws regarding hiring and employment.


The human resource department also is usually in charge of overseeing compensation, including salary or wages and benefits such as paid vacation or health insurance. Ensuring adequate and timely compensation is important for keeping employees satisfied.

The human resource department is there to answer questions an employee may have about their health benefits, vacation time, tax withholdings, or other concerns.


In order to maximize a staff's productivity, training is usually in order, which is organized by the human resource department. The department may perform the training in-house or it may be hired out to professionals. The department will also work to make sure that employee certifications or licenses are up-to-date and may even arrange for higher education or course reimbursement.


The human resource department also is in charge of employee development, which may involve training but which may also focus on succession planning and career development. Preparing certain employees for promotions and advanced roles is part of the responsibility of a human resource department.


Finally, on the occasions when an employee just doesn't work out, the human resource department is responsible for managing firings. As part of this, they may conduct exit interviews and arrange for the employee's last paycheck to be delivered.

Types of Human Resource Department Careers

There are many different jobs that can be part of a human resource department. These roles range from general work to leadership or managerial roles, and can include:

  • Human resource assistant
  • Human resource generalist
  • Human resource manager
  • Human resource director
  • Vice President of HR

Additionally, HR departments in larger organizations have employees who are organized around providing a specific component of human resource services, such as organization development or safety. They have titles such as training manager, organization development consultant, or safety coordinator.

Key Takeaways

  • A human resource department manages a company's human resources, otherwise known as its employees.
  • The human resource department is responsible for the effective hiring, training, developing, compensating, and management of these employees.
  • Larger human resource departments may have subdivisions within them that are organized around specific components of the department's responsibilities.
  • Find out the answers to frequently asked questions about HR.
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  1. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. "Best Practices for Employers and Human Resources/EEO Professionals." Accessed Sept. 16, 2020.

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