One of the most important functional areas in a business is human resources (HR). The field of HR is quickly evolving to meet the needs of today’s fast-changing, fast-paced global business climate.
The role of HR has long been to serve as an advocate for both the company and the people who work there. In the past, HR managers primarily performed administrative tasks, such as handling accounts receivable and payable, distributing payroll, hiring and firing, administering benefits and tracking employees’ sick days and vacation days. While many HR professionals still have responsibilities for day-to-day accounting and employee paperwork, their position has developed into a more strategic, advisory role that can enhance an organization’s competitive advantage and future success.
Role of HR as Change Champion
How can an HR department achieve success and build a competitive advantage for a company in today’s marketplace? As executive leaders and strategic partners responsible for organizational and employee development, HR professionals are taking on greater responsibilities, driving change, increasing productivity and boosting sales, all of which keep an organization ahead of the competition.
Driving change starts with an organization’s employees. Recruitment and talent acquisition specialists in an HR department are responsible for finding and hiring the very best talent. HR professionals can ensure that new hires are knowledgeable about and aligned with a company’s culture, business goals and strategies.
Plus, advances in technology have led to the automation of many routine, redundant and time-intensive HR tasks and increased HR’s ability to deliver consistent people processes. Performance analytics software, AI-driven recruiting platforms and other innovations can enhance and expand HR’s traditional strategic roles. And the free time such technologies enable can be diverted to deeply analyzing the relationship between an organization’s employment structure, goals, vision, mission, management practices and employee experience.
HR leaders with the perspective and understanding gained from such holistic organizational analysis — and the understanding of data visualization tools needed to convey information — can be pivotal in advising strategic planning and organizational change initiatives. This is also essential when organizations are considering global expansion projects. HR managers are experts in issues surrounding employee relations, cultural diversity, corporate responsibility and other ethical considerations inherent to international business. Thus, they are relied on to help businesses balance the drive for a competitive edge on a global scale and the need to maintain organizational values and ethical practices.
The Impact of the “Great Resignation” on HR
HR professionals are often charged with developing and implementing both training and professional development programs to ensure the best employees will be retained and will continue to help a company maintain its competitive advantage. This is essential as the workforce’s goals, motivations and loyalties have shifted during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a widespread phenomenon known as the “Great Resignation.”
Workers quit in droves during the pandemic, driving HR to design more attractive incentive packages, focus on the employee experience and, overall, lead organizational culture change. The modern HR manager works to make businesses more employee-centric and attractive to qualified job candidates while supporting the growth, development and job satisfaction of existing employees. This helps an organization maintain a competitive edge in the talent market, and top talent is a necessity for success in disruptive business environments.
Aside from salary and benefits, employee relations, team building and culture development, HR leaders design and manage programs that track employee performance and identify stellar employees as candidates for promotion. This is an integral part of succession planning, another central function of HR that maintains a competitive advantage during high-level — and potentially high-risk — personnel transitions.
The role of HR can maximize employee satisfaction and thereby minimize employee resistance to change and growth. In order to be successful business partners and leaders of change, HR professionals should be armed with a solid foundation in business principles and strategies. They must be knowledgeable about finance and accounting and be skilled in implementing best practices, methodologies and trends within the field.
One way to gain these skills is to earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. An online MBA program typically covers core business subjects such as finance, accounting, marketing, budgeting, strategy and project management. The University of Texas at Tyler’s online MBA courses also emphasize strategic HR management, HR development in international business environments, communication, problem-solving and team leadership. Comprehensive knowledge in these areas is necessary for an HR professional to add strategic value and contribute to an organization’s competitive advantage.
HR specialist and generalist positions do not necessarily require an MBA. But graduates with MBAs seeking jobs in human resources have their own competitive advantage. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, top-level managerial jobs in HR may require or prefer a master’s degree, making professionals with an MBA distinctly qualified for rewarding, high-paying careers as HR managers.
Learn more about UT Tyler’s online MBA program.