In those days, the HR section had little or no significance in organisations. Now, it is one of the most powerful assets for going concerns. RAHEEMAH AROGUNDADE looks at the significance of this department in modern establishments
It was known as personnel department, as it recruits, manages and sanctions the personnel or human resources of a company. With trends, it was christened HR.
The goal of any organisation varies per service rendered or product sold. However, the common goal of every enterprise is closely related to building a formidable brand and strong customer network, as well as increase return on investment. Employing and maintaining competent staff and satisfying customers are among the sure ways to achieve this.
For staff effectiveness, the HR department is needed in any organisation. Usually, it serves as arbitrator between the management and staff. It ensures that the workers are treated fairly, for them to realise company and personal goals.
HR practitioner, Tola Arowa, describes the discipline as one that specialises in the strategic acquisition, deployment, development and rewarding of talents in an organisation, to helping it achieve short, medium and long term goals.
“Talents/human resources or staff are resources in an organisation. They can be likened to capital or technological resources,” she said.
For Paul Obagie, another practitioner with Daily Trust newspapers, Abuja, the HR department is like no other, as it cuts across all departments of an organisation.
He stated, “The HR department is very critical for the success of any organisation. The primary focus of any business is to make profits and that profit is derived from the efforts of staff. The HR is the foremost department that manages, influences and ensures the productivity of the staff towards meeting the organisation’s target.”
While some organisations downplay its role, the HR department has, over the years, proven its effectiveness in ensuring productivity and growth of organisations. As such, HR managers have important roles to play.
Nigeria is one of the countries with the highest number of certified HR personnel. The growing number of HR practitioners seems to be insufficient, as more established companies in Nigeria seek their services, having realised their value.
Arowa asserted that no organisation could run effectively without the HR department.
Her words, “Organisations thrive on systems, technology, policies, etc. You need skilled HR professionals to identify, attract, train, retain and motivate the best-fit talents to execute the policies, man the technology and run the system. All other resources (capital, technology and policies) cannot succeed outside HR management.
“Organisational goals have to be broken down into smaller modules from which job specifications and job descriptions are generated. This, in turn, will inform the skill sets that would be required of the talents to fill each role. You need an HR professional to critically dissect this.”
According to her, while trying to make profit and meet organisational goals, the management sometimes overlooks the concerns and welfare of staff.
“In such dire situations, it is the HR department that draws the management’s attention to the welfare of staff,” she said.
“A business that is able to retain its workforce over a long period of time will enjoy stability and avoid disruptions that often accompany iteration. Iteration occurs when staff are displeased in an organisation. This can vary from welfare to engagement, competitive remuneration, professional development, growth in the organisation, dynamic nature of roles, reward and recognition, equity and fairness, etc.
“The presence of an HR professional will ensure that all these factors are taken into consideration to keep iteration at the barest minimum.”
Obagie explained that the 21st century revealed staff as a company’s greatest asset.
“As assets, the staff members ensure that a company achieves its set objectives. And to ensure optimum performance from staff, the HR becomes necessary,” he said.
The HR employee, Arowa submitted, ensures that employees’ deliverables are clearly communicated from the onset and per time, via formal documents.
She added that the HR would deploy Performance Management System.
“When staff know that their inputs would be measured and rewarded or sanctioned, they would be more painstaking about their work.
“The HR professional can influence productivity by providing a platform through which the staff can voice out their concerns to management and ensure that such concerns are given necessary attention. This will make the staff happy. A happy staff will make customers happy, which will impact the overall bottom-line of the company.
“Also, the HR personnel ensure that people deliver the job specification expected of them. When they fall short, the presence of an HR professional ensures that their failure is critically reviewed to ascertain the cause of the failure.
“If it is a communication problem, attitude problem or lack of technical know-how, the HR will ensure that the company doesn’t lose good staff over problems that can be resolved with little intervention,” she further said.
The HR professional, Obagie explained, is responsible for performance management, which involves a lot of processes.
PM is a set of activities that ensure that goals are met in an effective and efficient manner. It can focus on the performance of an organisation, a department, an employee, or the processes in place to manage particular tasks.
The major challenge faced by HR practitioners everywhere, according to Obagie, is the HR-to-employee ratio.
“The standard is that one HR employee should manage about 25 staff members; but in reality, one HR employee manages over 100 people. So, it becomes a great challenge.
“As HR employee, you manage other employees, and that has a multiplier effect on you. You handle their many activities, including training, performance management, internal communication, industrial relations, employee relations, recruitment and selection. Managing too many people impedes performance,” he said.
In-House and Outsourcing
Typically, when organisations outsource the HR roles, they hire a professional who will consult for the organisation. That has some benefits, which includes impartiality in handling staff matters.
Arowa observed that the benefits of using a consultant include dispassionate advice. Another advantage is that workers tend to confide in a consultant better than their colleague.
However, she noted that there could also be disadvantages in using a consultant. “They may sometimes be idealistic in their approach and may not take into cognisance the peculiar nature of some challenges in that particular client’s office. Also, he or she doesn’t spend enough time in the system to see the true state of things.”
Obagie, on his part, would prefer full-time domesticated HR personnel.
Such employee will be part of the organisation and will be able to communicate effectively with the staff in the organisation, he said.
“It is more efficient to have a domesticated HR, fully empowered as a strategic business partner to realise the company’s strategic objectives.”
In Arowa’s opinion, an in-house HR employee will be in a better position to recommend tailored solutions for challenges the staff face because s/he is also a part of the organisation.
However, the in-house HR may be biased in assessment. Also, because they are in the system, they may tend to be scared of colleagues’ reaction to decisions taken by management based on their advice.