What Does Human Resources Do?

Two women shaking hands at a meeting.

Your business – any company, really – relies on hardworking human beings. People with ideas, feelings, personalities, a variety of skill sets, and ever-changing needs. Addressing the latter whenever possible often benefits all the former elements; that’s where, as the term implies, human resources can save the day – and tomorrow. With the right approach, expertise, and capabilities, HR can make life better indefinitely for your hardworking staff, motivating them to do great things and stick around.

But just what does human resources do? Not everyone is familiar with the specifics, and that’s totally okay! We’re here to help demystify the term today in this comprehensive guide to HR, walking you through what it involves, how it works, and why working with an experienced firm is a highly proactive, time-efficient, and cost-effective move. If you’re new to the subject, we’re happy to fill you in on all the important details!

What is HR?

To clarify from the outset, human resources (HR) is a separate department or division either within a company or operating as an external body, such as a consulting firm like ours. The primary goal of HR is to help companies change with the times and make thoughtful internal process improvements, especially when the tweaks being made benefit their operations and team. 

Several medium-sized and larger companies have their own established internal HR division, though outside assistance and perspectives remain highly beneficial (as we’ll explore shortly). In fact, many companies nowadays prefer to outsource to external, reputable professionals. This eliminates potential biases, saves time and internal resources, and can even reduce overhead compared to having a dedicated internal group on payroll. 

Who is HR for?

To put it short and sweet, HR puts people first, which theoretically means that everyone can benefit from it. This shouldn’t include only the executives but rather every single employee within the company. Nobody should be left by the wayside, and everyone’s individual voice and needs should be considered. Of course, at the forefront of this focus is keeping employees happy and set up for success, thereby improving long-term prospects. To achieve the desired results, HR encompasses several important steps and services, which we’ll delve into a little further down.

HR Benefits

It’s true that employee happiness, peace of mind, motivation, training, performance efficiency and retention are among the most significant benefits, but don’t dismiss the other perks of an optimal HR strategy. These include cost savings, reduced task and process bloat, considerable time savings, improved resource allocation, and more. The benefits made available to your company will depend on several factors, examples of which include the following:

  • The compliances and guidelines you must adhere to
  • Your available budget and resources
  • OKRs and other established goals
  • Communication and collaboration efficiency
  • The HR services you utilize
  • The data made available to inform recommendations (and whether it’s up to date)
  • Whether you implement some, all, or none of HR’s recommendations

What is HR Able to Address?

You may have heard the question, “what does HR do, anyway?” occasionally in the past. When calling upon the assistance of an experienced and reputable HR firm, there may be several pain points driving a business to do so. As it happens, depending on the services rendered, HR can address a wide range of problems including but not limited to the following: 

  • Unhappy employees and/or a poor company image internally
  • High turnover and/or diminished public reputation
  • Inefficiencies related to recruitment, screening, onboarding, and/or training
  • Productivity-related cost overruns (causes may include time wastage, process bloat, etc.)
  • Stretched internal resources, including those within administration
  • Fragile or fragmented interdepartmental relationships
  • Ineffective communication/collaboration
  • Limited capacity/availability/resources to address key pain points

Key Responsibilities

There’s a common misconception that HR is simply about making employees happy but, as we’ve likely hinted at in the sections above, it’s actually a highly complex series of services and processes that enable for so much more. In that sense, one could classify HR as an umbrella term, encompassing a myriad of crucial responsibilities. Here are a few of them as examples.


One cannot simply hire blindly; there needs to be a well-established series of recruitment processes in place. With the help of HR, these should be able to ensure that your postings are appropriately worded and include all the essentials, target the right audience of candidates, and leave nothing to chance while making the role attractive to jobseekers. They should also confirm that effective screening and vetting procedures are put in place to whittle down the list of candidates further, enabling you to truly select from the best of the best. 

Onboarding and Training

Next, there’s the onboarding and talent management. Are all the appropriate questions being asked? Is the employee being properly integrated into the company culture and their designated role, or are there grey areas left for them to guess at that leave room for errors? This is the perfect segue into training, which should cover all the essentials of respective roles and ensure that new hires are truly set up for success. Helping them obtain all certifications required to maintain compliance, ensuring they are aware of the best practices of their role and how to perform all duties assigned to them correctly, and shadowing to make their first week as stress-free as possible are all essential steps. 

Of course, there should be an ongoing training strategy in place that benefits the employee first and the company second, never the other way around. In respects to this, higher-ups can often benefit from dedicated leadership consulting. This is ideal for everything from addressing staffing concerns, allocating resources, adhering to governing rules and regulations, and more. 

Policy Updates and Process Refinements

Of course, HR isn’t limited solely to improvements within recruitment; all departmental operations can benefit from informed, proactive guidance. This especially relates to internal policy updates and processes, which are often either outdated, ask for employees to jump through multiple donut-sized flaming hoops, or potentially create compliance violations. Task and process bloat are serious issues plaguing many businesses, especially as they grow, pivot, and develop more complex operations. Human resources can carry out comprehensive analyses to verify whether something needs to be updated or removed from the equation entirely. By acting attentively on the data-driven recommendations, your company becomes more flexible and less constrained by its own established policies and processes – and likely alleviates a whole bunch of stress factors negatively impacting staff, to boot! 

Fostering a Healthy, Supportive Culture

We’ve touched on proper onboarding and training already, but HR’s ability to ensure your culture is up to snuff involves other steps as well. These include raising awareness of available benefits and compensation options while communicating them effectively, not to mention confirming whether you have options available that are attractive to employees in the first place. Not only that, but HR works overtime (figuratively, not literally) to foster a healthy, supportive culture that encourages interaction between employees, departments, and management. 

Whether coming up with new methods of motivating employees, rewards and/or recognition for a job well done, thoughtful and considerate support for when things don’t go so well or otherwise, this is the ‘human’ aspect of human resources on full display. Your team deserves a caring, welcoming culture that encourages them to stick around, improve and thrive, and achieve success together. In short, they should love what they do and look forward to each day!


We hope that this guide helped to introduce you to the world of HR, and your journey doesn’t have to stop here! We’d love to help you discover the many capabilities and benefits of human resources operations. With our consulting and advisory services across several areas, we’re a well-rounded solution that puts people first and enables for meaningful, future-facing change. To learn more, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at True North HR. We look forward to answering any questions you may have and getting to know your team!