Defining Human Resources (HR)

Want a thriving business? Put your People first and focus on Human Resources today!

If you employ others and want your business to thrive, then you need to focus on Human Resources. HR, as Human Resources is usually called, is not just a function for big business.

It’s true… if you employ others and want your business to thrive, then you need to focus on Human Resources.  HR, as Human Resources is usually called, is not just a function for big business.   HR is something every business owner should consider.  In this article you will find:

In this article…

What is Human Resources (HR)?

Human Resources is a business function which helps create successful organisations through the best use of People.  HR uses a lot of Information and has a huge impact on your Brand, especially your reputation.  It is also fundamentally important to a healthy organisational culture.

The HR function achieves this by making sure that you’ve got the right people, with the correct skills in the most appropriate roles.  In doing this, the HR function also helps you to do what it’s required by law.

If you employ an individual directly, use an agency or consultancy service, HR is the function you use to get the the best people and keep them contributing to your success during their time with you.

Those involved in HR should contribute to your strategy and are pivotal to running a compliant organisation.  It’s good to remember that:

People are likely to be both your greatest strength and your biggest weakness.

Human Resources is a very large subject. So to start we’ve gathered some useful information below. We’ve included what common activities are included and what laws need your attention.  This is mainly a reference work and will be enhanced over time.

Common Activities

There is a large range of activities usually undertaken to manage Human Resources, including :

  • Recruitment
  • Pay and rewards
  • Motivating and managing performance and attendance
  • Improving the culture and development of the organisation
  • Caring for health, safety and wellbeing
  • Training and development
  • Managing end of employment
  • Ensuring compliance and maintaining good ethics
  • Championing diversity, equality and equity
  • Planning for change

Primary Acts and Regulations

The UK has a very large collection of laws and regulation for controlling the employment of people in an organisation.  Here’s a list of the major pieces to illustrate the size and complexity of the HR function:

  • Agency Workers Regulations
  • Children and Families Act
  • Employment Act
  • Employers’ Liability Act
  • Employment Relations Act
  • Employment Rights Act
  • Equality Act
  • Health and Safety Act and regulations (e.g. First-Aid, safe use of equipment, training)
  • National Minimum Wage Act
  • Modern Slavery Act
  • Pension Schemes Act
  • Pensions Act
  • Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act
  • Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act
  • Trade Union Act
  • Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations
  • Work and Family Act
  • Working Time Regulations

Available Standards

As with many management functions, there are a number of general standards which could be applied to HR, such as ISO 9001 Quality Management.  There are, however,  a number of British and international standards aimed at the HR Management function:

  • BS ISO 30405:2016 – Guidelines on recruitment. 
  • BS ISO 30408:2016 – Guidelines on human governance.
  • BS ISO 30409:2016 – Workforce planning. 
  • BS ISO 30414:2018 – Guidelines for internal and external human capital reporting. 

Authoritative Guidance

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) provides its registered members with high quality guidance and advice. 

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) freely provides a comprehensive range of guidance and advice.  In addition, ACAS supplies templates for employers and employees.

Valuable Skills

The skills required by those involved in Human Resources can be broken down into 3 areas:

Individual Skills

  • Analytical – Analysing problems and challenges with perceptiveness, insight developing innovative thinking.
  • Technological – Making use of various technologies to best advantage and spotting the possibilities in emerging technologies.
  • Researching – Collecting and using data effectively and  integrating that learning into the organisation
  • Quantitative – Working with statistics, metrics and other data to interpret and predictive good courses of action.
  • Legal-minded – Viewing situations from a legal perspective and drawing out the applicable points.  Maintaining a good understanding of relevant laws and then making sound judgments based on good legal advice.

Team Skills

  • Emotional intelligence -Understanding the emotional state of yourself and others and making effective use of this information to influence behaviours. 
  • Project management – Planning, delivering and controlling HR projects 
  • Decision-making – Making decisions in a timely and well-informed manner
  • Business Conscious – Understanding the  way the business works and how HR can affect its performance and success
  • Independent – Keeping to the standards of the HR professional body, all workplace regulations and applicable standards.

Organisational Skills

  • Ethical and professional – Acting with honesty, integrity, self-confidence and empathy.  Dealing with any conflicts of interest and the need to protect the public. 
  • Relationship management – Building a useful network to promote organisational growth and then establishing productive working relationships.
  • Influencing – Discovering solutions that balance the interests of all parties and communicating persuasively 
  • Leadership – Build and lead successful teams whilst demonstrating competence in policy setting, planning, collaboration, process and procedural design, using feedback, and managing conflict.
  • Unifying – Integrating the wide range of HR techniques and practices into the organisation and proving its value.

Service Providers

The first time that an organisation recruits an employee it exposes itself to a huge collection of employment related laws.  It is not easy to secure the knowledge and skills, let alone the time, to comprehend and manage this compliance overhead. A solution could be to appoint an HR service provider to help.

It is advisable to get help with your HR function sooner rather than later.  Many issues arising from employment start well before a person starts working with you.  If nothing else, it is good to understand the true cost of employing someone – which is usually more than just their salary. 


HR, in summary, seeks to inform the organisation of its obligations through robust policies, processes and procedures.  Then, through good communication and education, establish and evidence that everyone understands and are working within the rules.

If you feel that this article can be improved or have an article which you feel may be good supporting information for the HR newbie, please do contact us or make a comment below.

Blue Sky Stinking

Free Business Podcast

Another way to learn more about the functions in your organisation is to listen to our business-focused podcast.  Episode 7, One of us, covers an HR subject – recruitment.  If you are looking for your next employee, make sure you listen to this to get some great tips

How Gydeline helps

We, at Gydeline, help organisations of all types and sizes to save money and time through better and simpler compliance.  We do this with software and services.

If you would like to discuss any aspects of dealing with this and other risks in your business we are always happy to offer some, no obligation assistance – just contact us.