• Few things are less welcome on Answerbag than a long series of homework questions posted by someone too lazy to do their own work. The only thing I can think of that's less inviting is having those questions be about corporate HR policies. I cannot snooze fast enough to keep up.
  • So much of your question is dependent on the quality of the HR staff. While it is true that legal compliance is an important part of HR, so are payroll, recruiting, benefits administration, employee development, and more. Over the years, HR has been built by companies placing people who had performed well in other areas, but who no longer fit any other role in the company into the HR department. This degraded the quality of the HR department. HR has also been the recipient of anything that didn't fall into the normal realm of business activites. Over the last decade, many people went to Universities to study HR and those who wished to become professionals joined the Society for Human Resources Management. If the HR staff is professional, they walk a fine line between being employee advocates, ensuring employees are treated fairly and with respect, Representing management by advising them how to motivate, train and retain, as well as how to discipline effectively. The final role an HR Professional can play is as a strategic partner to the Board or CEO level staff. With skills in strategic and tactical planning and implementation, negotiation, budgeting and an understanding of the long-range impact of decisions on employees, the HR Professional can be a vital asset. The downside is that there is no standard among HR practitioners. The national organization is not self-policing and an HR person can only lose his or her credentials for non-payment of dues. This means that the caliber of the HR person can vary widely. As a business grows, the need for a Professional (with an SPHR or at least PHR certification) becomes a necessity. It is then up to the organization as to how the HR staff is deployed. I have been in HR where I was seen as "The Hatchet Man" primarily involved in discipline and layoffs. I have also been involved in HR where I was seen as "The Bringer of light" where I implemented training programs, picnics, awards, contests and communications channels. To summarize, with the right HR Professional, your business will thrive, your employees will be happy and you will stay out of legal trouble from within. With the wrong HR person, you could actually be worse off than not having one. And one last point, if you are unionized, HR people can work with unions to keep you and the employees aware and satisfied. If you are not unionized, an HR Professional can help keep you that way.

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