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Human resources

Human resources

Human resources are the people who make up the workforce of an organization, business sector, or economy. "Human capital" is sometimes used synonymously with "human resources", although human capital typically refers to a more narrow view (i.e., the knowledge the individuals embody and economic growth). Likewise, other terms sometimes used include "manpower", "talent", "labour", "personnel", or simply "people".

A human-resources department (HR department) of an organization performs human resource management, overseeing various aspects of employment, such as compliance with labour law and employment standards, administration of employee benefits, and some aspects of recruitment and dismissal. [undefined]

Human resources
Department within an organization
Activity sectors
Economy and business
CompetenciesStaffing (recruitments, dismissals, managing labour law, employment standards, administration and employee benefits) and bringing out the bestwork ethic
Related jobs
Workforce, human capital, manpower, talent, labour, personnel, people, HR analytics, recruitment, learning and development

Definition of staffing or personnel management

Staffing is a process of hiring or positioning in an organization.


A human resources manager has several functions in a company :

  • Determine needs of the staff.

  • Determine to use temporary staff or hire employees to fill these needs.

  • Recruit and train the best employees.

  • Supervise the work.

  • Manage employee relations, unions and collective bargaining.

  • Prepare employee records and personal policies.

  • Ensure high performance.

  • Manage employee payroll, benefits and compensation.

  • Ensure equal opportunities.

  • Deal with discrimination.

  • Deal with performance issues.

  • Ensure that human resources practices conform to various regulations.

  • Push the employees'motivation.

Managers need to develop their interpersonal skills to be effective. Organisations behaviour focuses on how to improve factors that make organisations more effective.


Issues of human resources and their deployment in some pre-modern societies can emerge in studies of slavery. [undefined]

Origins of the terminology

Pioneering economist John R. Commons used the term "human resource" in his 1893 book The Distribution of Wealth but did not further build upon it. [666666] The term "human resource" was subsequently in use during the 1910s and 1920s as was the notion that workers could be seen as a kind of capital asset. Among scholars the first use of "human resources" in its modern form was in a 1958 report by economist E. Wight Bakke. The term began to become more developed in the 19th century due to misunderstandings between employers and employees.

The term in practice

From the corporate objective, employees have been traditionally viewed as assets to the enterprise, whose value is enhanced by further learning and development, referred to as human resource development.

In regard to how individuals respond to the changes in a labour market, the following must be understood:

  • Skills and qualifications: as industries move from manual to more managerial professions so does the need for more highly skilled staff.

  • If the market is "tight" (i.e. not enough staff for the jobs), employers must compete for employees by offering financial rewards, community investment, etc.

  • Geographical spread: how far is the job from the individual?

  • The distance to travel to work should be in line with remuneration, and the transportation and infrastructure of the area also influence who applies for a position.

  • Occupational structure: the norms and values of the different careers within an organization.

  • Mahoney 1989 developed 3 different types of occupational structure, namely, craft (loyalty to the profession), organization career path (promotion through the firm) and unstructured (lower/unskilled workers who work when needed).

  • Generational difference: different age categories of employees have certain characteristics, for example, their behavior and their expectations of the organization.

  • [undefined]

Concerns about the terminology

One major concern about considering people as assets or resources is that they will be commoditized, objectified and abused.

Some analysis suggests that human beings are not "commodities" or "resources", but are creative and social beings in a productive enterprise. The 2000 revision of ISO 9001, in contrast, requires identifying the processes, their sequence and interaction, and to define and communicate responsibilities and authorities. In general, heavily unionised nations such as France and Germany have adopted and encouraged such approaches. Also, in 2001, the International Labour Organization decided to revisit and revise its 1975 Recommendation 150 on Human Resources Development, resulting in its "Labour is not a commodity" principle. One view of these trends is that a strong social consensus on political economy and a good social welfare system facilitate labour mobility and tend to make the entire economy more productive, as labour can develop skills and experience in various ways, and move from one enterprise to another with little controversy or difficulty in adapting.

Another important controversy regards labour mobility and 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 more rightfully part of the developing nation and required to further its economic growth.

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.


Human resources play an important part of developing and making a company or organization at the beginning or making a success at the end, due to the labour provided by employees.

Human resources is intended to show how to have better employment relations in the workforce.

Also, to bring out the best work ethic of the employees and therefore making a move to a better working environment.



Administration and operations used to be the two role areas of HR.

The strategic planning component came into play as a result of companies recognizing the need to consider HR needs in goals and strategies.

HR directors commonly sit on company executive teams because of the HR planning function.

Numbers and types of employees and the evolution of compensation systems are among elements in the planning role.

[undefined] Various factors affecting Human Resource planning Organizational Structure, Growth, Business Location, Demographic changes, environmental uncertainties, expansion etc. Additionally, this area encompasses the realm of talent management.

See also

  • Activity-based working

  • Chief human resources officer

  • Employee offboarding

  • Human resource accounting

  • Human resource management

  • Industrial and organizational psychology


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Citation Linktools.wmflabs.orgLibrary resources in your library and in other libraries about Human resources
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