What does HR do? Exploring the roles and responsibilities

8 mins
Sellick  Partnership

By Sellick Partnership

The human resources department plays a vital role in managing the workforce and keeping businesses functioning properly. By taking on a role within HR, you will be able to help organisations to build the right team, upskill the workforce and ensure a harmonious working environment.

Human resources (HR) is a discipline that has become increasingly prominent and valued in recent years. As more and more companies realise the significant benefits that come with sensitive, careful management of their staff's wellbeing and needs, the role played by HR will only increase further.

Nevertheless, without personal experience of working closely with HR, it can be difficult to understand what exactly the role of a HR professional entails: what kind of work HR departments do on a daily basis? What are the main HR job roles? And what functions do they serve within the wider organisation?

In this blog post, we will explore the key duties, responsibilities, and common job roles within this vital department, in order to help those who are exploring their careers options to better understand what they can expect from working in this sector.

What does human resources do?

HR is the backbone of any organisation. It is the department responsible for managing the human element of the business. This includes everything from recruitment and onboarding to training, employee relations, benefits administration, and compliance with employment laws.

HR professionals play a crucial role in shaping the culture of a company: they ensure that the workplace is safe, inclusive, and conducive to productivity. They also work to align the goals of the employees with the strategic objectives of the business.

According to stats shared by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in 2022, the HR profession grew by 42% in the decade from 2011 to 2021, vastly outstripping the 10% growth rate seen across the general workforce. This shows that businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the significant value that well-run human resources departments can deliver for organisations across all sectors.

What are the key duties and responsibilities of HR professionals?

The HR department is a multifaceted entity within an organisation, with a wide range of responsibilities for managing the workforce throughout the entire employee lifecycle. Here, we will examine the key duties and responsibilities that human resources professionals are expected to undertake:

Recruitment and candidate selection

One of the primary responsibilities of HR is to manage the recruitment and selection process. This begins with identifying the staffing needs of the organisation, which involves working closely with various departments to understand their requirements.

HR professionals may then create job descriptions, advertise vacancies, screen applications, conduct interviews and oversee the hiring process. They also coordinate with the Hiring Managers to ensure that the best candidates are selected for each role.

This process requires a deep understanding of the job market and the ability to assess prospective new employees' skills, qualifications, and cultural fit.

Training and development

HR departments are responsible for employee development, which involves identifying the skills and knowledge that employees need to perform their jobs effectively and planning for their long-term career growth. This includes organising training programmes, workshops and seminars; coordinating with external training providers; and tracking employees' progress, ensuring they are taking advantage of the training and development opportunities available to them.

HR also plays a key role in succession planning, identifying high-potential employees and preparing them for leadership roles.

Employee relations

HR functions as the liaison between the employer and the employees, managing the relationship between the two. They handle issues such as conflict resolution, disciplinary procedures and grievance handling. They also work to create a positive work environment listens to employee concerns, encourages open communication, and fosters good relationships between employees and management.

Compensation and benefits

The human resources department oversees the company's compensation strategy, ensuring that salaries are competitive and fair. They conduct market research to benchmark salaries, develop compensation structures and manage the payroll.

They also manage employee benefits, such as pensions, health insurance and holiday entitlement, and ensure that these benefits align with the company's strategic goals and comply with legal requirements.


HR plays a crucial role in ensuring that the company is fully compliant with employment law. This includes everything from workplace safety regulations to equality and diversity legislation. HR professionals have a responsibility to stay up-to-date with the latest legal developments, and implement policies and procedures to ensure compliance. They also handle audits and inspections and respond to any legal issues that may arise.

Performance management

Finally, HR departments are responsible for implementing performance management systems to evaluate employee performance and productivity. They manage the employee records and appraisal processes, facilitate feedback sessions and work with Managers to set performance goals. They also handle performance-related issues, such as underperformance or misconduct, and implement corrective actions when necessary.

In short, the role of HR is vast and varied, encompassing a wide range of duties and responsibilities. HR professionals play a crucial role in managing the human element of the business, ensuring that employees are skilled, motivated and engaged, and that the company complies with all relevant laws and regulations. Their work contributes to the overall success and profitability of the business, making HR a vital component of any organisation.

Examining the most common HR job roles

The field of human resource management encompasses a variety of roles, each with its own unique responsibilities and requirements. Here are some of the most common HR job roles that we recruit for at Sellick Partnership:

  • HR Assistant: this is often the entry point for many professionals in the HR field. HR Assistants are responsible for administrative tasks such as maintaining employee records, assisting with recruitment processes, handling HR-related queries and supporting other HR staff. They are the backbone of the HR department, ensuring that operations run smoothly.
  • HR Officer: HR Officers, also known as HR generalists, have a more comprehensive role within the HR department. They are involved in several areas of HR, including recruitment, training, employee relations and compliance. They may also assist with the development and implementation of HR policies and procedures. HR Officers often serve as a bridge between HR management and employees, handling day-to-day issues and ensuring that HR services are able to support employees effectively.
  • HR Consultant: HR Consultants provide expert advice and services to organisations on a contract basis. They may be hired to handle specific projects, such as implementing a new HR system, developing a recruitment strategy or improving employee engagement. HR Consultants need a broad understanding of HR practices and strong problem-solving skills.
  • HR Specialist: HR Specialists focus on a specific area of HR, such as recruitment, training and development, compensation and benefits, or employee relations. They have in-depth knowledge and expertise in their area of specialisation, allowing them to provide targeted support and advice.
  • HR Manager: HR Managers oversee the HR function within a company. They develop HR strategies that align with the company's goals, manage HR teams, and ensure that HR practices support the needs of the business. Their responsibilities may include managing recruitment and retention strategies, overseeing training and development initiatives, handling employee relations issues, and ensuring compliance with employment law.
  • HR Director: HR Directors are senior-level executives responsible for the overall management and strategic direction of the HR department. They play a key role in shaping the company's workforce strategy, organisational culture and talent management practices. HR Directors often work closely with top-level management to ensure that HR strategies support the company's overall business objectives.
  • HR Business Partner: HR Business Partners are strategic roles that involve working closely with business leaders to align HR strategies with business goals. They provide advice on HR issues, help implement HR initiatives within specific business units, and work to improve organisational performance through people management strategies. HR Business Partners need a deep understanding of the business and the industry to effectively support strategic objectives.

These roles represent a progression in the field of HR, from entry-level positions to more senior roles. Each role plays a crucial part in managing the human resources of an organisation, contributing to its success and growth. Whether you are just starting out in HR or looking to advance your career, there are plenty of opportunities in this dynamic and rewarding field.

How does a well-run HR department deliver benefits for employees and the business as a whole?

A well-run HR department is a valuable asset to any organisation. It not only ensures the smooth running of internal operations, but also contributes significantly to the overall success of the business. Here, we will explore how a proficient HR department delivers benefits for both employees and the wider organisation.

How does HR support employees?

  • Employee development: a well-run HR department is committed to the growth and development of its employees. Through regular training and development programmes, employees are equipped with the necessary skills to perform their roles effectively and are given opportunities to broaden their skill sets. This not only enhances job satisfaction but also opens up avenues for career progression.
  • Conflict resolution: HR plays a crucial role in managing conflicts within the organisation. They provide a safe and confidential environment for employees to voice their concerns and grievances. Through fair and effective conflict resolution strategies, HR ensures that issues are resolved promptly, preventing escalation and maintaining harmony within the workplace.
  • Fair compensation and benefits: HR ensures that employees are fairly compensated for their work. They conduct regular market research to stay competitive with salaries and benefits, ensuring that the organisation retains its top talent. They also manage benefits programmes, such as health insurance, pensions and leave policies, enhancing employee satisfaction and wellbeing.
  • A safe and inclusive work environment: HR is responsible for creating and maintaining a safe, inclusive work environment. They implement policies that promote diversity and inclusion and ensure compliance with health and safety regulations. This fosters a culture of respect and equality, where every employee feels valued and included.

How does HR support the wider business?

  • Talent acquisition and retention: a proficient HR department ensures that the organisation attracts and retains top talent. Through effective recruitment strategies, HR brings in skilled individuals who fit the company culture and contribute to its goals. They also implement retention strategies, such as competitive compensation packages and employee recognition programmes, reducing turnover and the associated costs.
  • Legal compliance: HR plays a critical role in ensuring that the organisation complies with all relevant employment laws and regulations. This includes everything from working condition laws to anti-discrimination legislation. By staying abreast of legal changes and implementing necessary policies, HR helps the organisation avoid legal issues and potential penalties.
  • Strategic planning: HR contributes to the strategic planning of the organisation. They help identify the human resources needed to achieve business goals and develop strategies to meet these needs. This includes workforce planning, succession planning and talent management strategies.
  • Cost savings: by managing employee performance, reducing turnover and improving efficiency through HR technologies, effective human resources management can contribute to significant cost savings. They also help avoid potential costs associated with legal issues or non-compliance.
  • Enhancing employer brand: HR plays a key role in shaping the employer brand. They ensure that the organisation's values and culture are reflected in its HR practices, making the company more attractive to potential employees and enhancing its reputation in the market.

Because of the proven benefits that a well-run HR department delivers, most forward-thinking organisations understand the importance of investing properly in their human resources teams. As such, those with the aptitude and skills to succeed in this vital sector will find plenty of opportunities to build a successful career.

Find out more

If you are interested in starting a career in human resources, or if your organisation is looking to strengthen its HR team, Sellick Partnership is here to help. We are a leading professional services recruitment specialist with a wealth of experience in the HR sector.

Visit our HR recruitment hub to browse HR job roles and read the latest insights about human resource management on our blog. Read our career guide on how to get into HR to find out more about how to make your start in this industry.

You can also get in touch with us today to learn more about our HR recruitment services and how we can help you.