7 Important Departments in HR (With Detailed Explanations)

Updated November 18, 2022

Human resources are a critical component of an organization that contributes significantly to the success of an organization. People in the human resources department are responsible for important roles that aim to benefit both the employees and the organization. Understanding the functions of each HR department and the qualifications needed can help you make an informed decision on which specialization to pursue. In this article, we define human resources, outline different situations when employees need to contact the HR department, and explore seven departments in HR.

What is human resources?

Human resources is a term used to describe people who work in a business and contribute to advancing the organization's goals. The term also represents a department that handles all employee-related issues in an organization for improved performance. Such issues include hiring, training, and motivation of employees. For this reason, the HR department provides them with the information, tools, legal guidance, and training to carry out their duties effectively.

Read more: How To Begin Your Career in Human Resources

When do employees contact human resources?

The human resources department helps employees with any concerns, complaints, or questions related to their work. Here are some situations in which to contact HR:

  • when there is a case of harassment or discrimination

  • when they have questions about benefits that may include bonuses, medical cover, pay rise, or legal terms

  • when employees want to request flexible working hours because of unforeseen circumstances

  • when there are work-related issues that require the input of a neutral person

  • when there are questions about career advancements and employees need clarification about the qualifications

Related: 9 Areas of HR for Human Resource Professionals

7 departments in HR

Here's a detailed list of seven key departments in HR you can pursue:

1. Recruiting and hiring

The human resources department handles the recruitment and hiring process. They recognize when there's a vacancy and organize for the positions to be filled. The process goes beyond posting an advertisement. It involves consulting stakeholders, examining the market, and managing budgets. Once HR has advertised vacant positions, they do extensive research to ensure they shortlist ideal candidates. This is an enormous operation that requires careful evaluation to ensure they identify candidates with skills to do their job effectively and also who fit in the organization's culture. A wrong candidate may derail the company's efforts to achieve its goals.

Human resources departments also oversee the hiring process once they have identified potential candidates. They coordinate hiring efforts, schedule interviews, and welcome new recruits into the company. The department then prepares all the formalities involved in the recruitment process and ensures the new employees understand and fill out all relevant paperwork. They also provide the required tools to the new employees to ensure a smooth transition into the company.

Read more: How To Become a Human Resource Manager (With Salary Info)

2. Training and development

The training and development department of HR ensures employees familiarize themselves with advancements in technology, processes, and legal matters. The training team, therefore, provides them with the tools they need to accomplish their purposes. Such tools include orientation of new employees, leadership training of employees in supervisory positions, personal development, and management training.

Training and development introduce employees to new skills and also offer refresher courses to remind employees of important skills they might have forgotten. They customize this training, as different roles require unique skills. Some positions require that an employee be trained in a certain course before assuming the position. For that reason, some organizations keep records of employee training needs for consideration whenever an opportunity for training arises. This aims to bridge the skills gap, as some employees arrive at the organization with more skills than others.

3. Compensation and benefits

Compensation packages are one of the key factors that job seekers consider when accepting a job offer. The compensation and benefits team, therefore, strives to come up with the right proposal to attract the finest talent. To do this, they have to review the company's finances and profitability to ensure the package is viable. There are two types of compensation, monetary compensation and secondary compensation. Monetary compensation is the money that is paid directly for work done, mostly on a monthly basis.

Secondary compensation, also referred to as benefits, involves awards that are not necessarily monetary. The awards include additional holidays, longer maternal or paternal leave, day-care, laptop, pet insurance, and a car. A talented recruit can prefer a different company that offers smaller pay if their benefits are more promising and attractive. To avoid such incidents, this HR unit conducts regular benefit analyses of competitor companies to determine how far they can go with their benefits. Along with these functions, the compensation division ensures impartiality and equality in remuneration. They also oversee pay raises and ensure standards of merit.

4. Health and safety

The health and safety of employees are very important in every company. The Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Legislation outlines safety as a responsibility of various parties, including HR. The legislation identifies managers, employees, and health and safety committees to avert sickness and accidents in places of work. Even though this function doesn't depend solely on HR, the department plays a major role in developing and implementing policies related to safety and health.

The HR team, together with the health committee, assesses the workplace for anything that can pose a health risk to staff. They then use the assessment result to form part of the safety policy to be adopted by the organization. The health and safety unit also trains employees on safe work practices in line with occupational health regulations and partners with the benefits section to compensate an employee in case of work-related injuries. They also organize a health insurance plan for employees and their families.

Read more: 13 Common Types of Jobs in Human Resources

5. Labour and employee relations

Most organizations strive to develop and maintain constructive relations with their employees to improve their loyalty and productivity. This is the function of the labour and employee relations division of an HR department. Here, HR helps in resolving disputes among employees or between employees and management. They also help in developing and implementing policies that are reasonable for all employees. To succeed in this role, HR needs to value employees' contribution to the organization and seek their feedback whenever they are making major decisions that affect the company.

In companies with a unionized labour force, the labour and relations team help in negotiating collective bargaining agreements and generating administrative responses to unions managing movements. Here are some more functions of the labour and relations department:

  • offer legal representation in the execution of labour laws, rules, and policy

  • ensure effective communication in the company

  • initiate reasonable organizational changes

  • help reduce industrial unrest, strikes, and protests

  • improve employee satisfaction and stability

  • ensure the organization complies with the labour laws of the respective province

Read more: What Does a Human Resource Manager Do?

6. Succession planning

Succession planning is a key function of the human resources department. It involves identifying, developing, and empowering future leaders who can replace the existing ones once they leave the company. An employee may leave an organization because of retirement, illness, transfer, termination, resignation, or even death. The succession planning department liaises with the training and development division to create a pipeline of talented and qualified employees to ensure business continuity in case a critical member of management leaves.

7. Performance appraisal

Performance appraisal is a fundamental component that is performed by HR in every organization. By conducting performance appraisals, the company hopes to identify weak performers, so they can encourage them and reward the top performers to motivate them. The HR department develops and implements a performance appraisal plan. They also explain the need for appraisal to employees and report feedback on the appraisal transparently. The department considers various factors such as punctuality, behaviour, and completion of daily duties when appraising the employees.

To become an HR professional in Canada, you need a degree, diploma, or certificate in human resources management or a related study like business management, labour studies, training and development, or commerce. A social science certification may also be considered, though most employers have the utmost regard for the Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) credential.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Explore more articles

  • What Is Passive Income? (With 8 Passive Income Ideas)
  • 10 Tips on How to Get More Clients and Grow a Business
  • Customer Service Skills: Definition and Examples
  • How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking in the Workplace
  • 6 Major Academia vs. Industry Career Differences (With Tips)
  • How to Add a Border in Google Docs in 5 Different Ways
  • What Is Quality Assurance in the Pharmaceutical Industry?
  • Business Overview Example (With Definition and Steps)
  • How to Change Page Order in Word (With Steps and Tips)
  • Finding Yourself Quotes (Including Importance and Tips)
  • Examples of Team-Building Activities to Unify Your Team
  • Top 5 Networking Skills and How to Develop Them