The Human Resources Department

The Human Resources Department (HRD) is critical to the functioning of all successful businesses. The department takes a leading role in supporting the strategic goals of the organisation whilst developing good practice values and supporting business performance. It is also responsible for employee engagement. The HRD handles many essential functions of the organisation including compliance with legislation, the recruitment of new staff, mandatory training and dealing with employee relations issues. This is in addition to the design and creation of new policies for the organisation along with their implementation and monitoring. In general, the roles of the HR department are similar across various different organisations, such as the recruitment of staff and facilitation of disciplinaries and grievance issues. Yet, the finer roles of the organisation will differ according to the design of the business. “The HR function aims to help an organisation deliver its corporate strategy and objectives by effectively managing people and performance”. CIPD. (2017). HR Function. Available: https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/people/hr. Last accessed 30 May 2018
The most valuable resource for any organisation is their employees. If an organisation takes the time to invest in its employees then not only would they be investing in their future but would also be developing a focused and motivated team. It is important for organisations to empower their staff in order for them to reach their objectives and therefore, contribute to the development of the organisation. Therefore, having an effective HRD that prioritises its employees will allow any organisation to thrive and continue to grow into a successful business.
Previously, the HRD was traditionally known as the personnel department and was more focused on timely employee relationship issues and personnel administration. Over the years, this style has evolved to adopt a modern practice which is more pro-active and thereby motivates their employees to feel more engaged and an active member of the team. Methods to achieve this include offering training opportunities to facilitate career progression. The newer style of HR is more strategically lead which supports the values and culture of the organisation which, in turn, provides a more rewarding workplace.

It is also important that a HR department within any organisation adds value to a business. This can be achieved by having a clear HR Strategy in place so organisations are able to meet their objectives. This together with clear HR practices and procedures will ensure the HRD performs successfully for all its stakeholders.

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The structure of our HRD at Royal Trinity Hospice (RTH) consists of a Director of Human Resources, who line managers the HR manager, a HR database and reception manager, a HR assistant and a volunteer services manager. The Director of HR is accountable for the HR team and supports the strategic objectives of the organisation, whilst also sitting on the Executive Team. The Director of HR is also jointly responsible for designing and leading the implementation of the Organisation Development strategy and maintaining and developing HR policies and procedures in line with any changes in legislation. They are also responsible for ensuring the provision of generalist HR support to all parts of RTH and Trinity Hospice Shops Limited to enable both organisations to meet their objectives whilst providing employees with a supportive environment and rewarding careers. Another key responsibility for the Director of HR is to actively work towards the development of an inclusive and empowering work environment which promotes a common understanding of strategic objectives to deliver positive and sustainable change. These are all key responsibilities are directed towards the modern HRD.

The HRD also has a Human Resources Manager who is a member of the Senior Management Team (SMT). The position holds the duty of being the lead HR representative for the staff involvement committee and job evaluation panel. Unlike the role of the Director, it is the HR manager’s responsibility to be responsible for employee relations cases in both RTH ; Trinity Hospice Shops Ltd. An important aspect of this role includes being a principal contact for advice regarding policies in addition to acting as a liaison for all managers and staff. They are also responsible for designing and delivering manager training sessions which, along with the support of the Director of Human Resources and Development, contribute to the implementation of the strategic goals of the HRD.

The HRD at RTH employs a HR assistant whose main responsibility is to ensure the smooth and efficient running of the recruitment function and to support and assist colleagues within the HRD. Featuring in the job description of this role, the HR assistant’s job includes managing the entirety of the recruitment process which includes placing adverts, drafting offer letters and contracts, carrying out pre-employment checks and setting up new starters on the HR database. This position also acts as the first point of contact for recruitment queries from managers, staff, applicants, candidates and the general public.

My role within RTH is the HR database and reception manager. My key responsibility is to maintain the operation of the HR database and all other areas of HR administration. This includes maintaining a centralised manual and computerised system for all staff which holds all of the information the company might need on their employees. For example employees contract of employment, job descriptions, appraisals and sickness absences. Our HR system is integrated with our finance department for the processing of payroll. With this in mind, the need for accuracy is paramount. My role also includes making sure mandatory training is up to date and monthly reports are sent out to all line mangers. This is a reason why the HRD is important as employee’s information is updated and readily available when needed. As part of my dual responsibility as both a database manager and reception manager, I must also ensure that RTH receives a consistent and highly skilled reception service at all times. This includes managing contracted and bank reception staff. Overall, the management of both positions can be challenging and I have found that having an organised approach is fundamental to the role.

Finally, the HR team also has a voluntary services manager who is responsible for all volunteers.
The HR department at RTH provides a service to the whole organisation including the clinical and non-clinical services together with the retail company. The main purpose of the HR department at RTH is to support the strategic goals of the organisation whilst developing good practice values and supporting business performance. The HR department at RTH is responsible for recruiting new staff, looking after employee relation issues, ensuring the working environment is safe for employees and current legislation is followed and policies are updated accordingly. The HR department is also responsible for ensuring all employees’ registrations are up to date and that employees are fit to practice, are legally able to work, and complete mandatory training and Disclosures and Baring Service (DBS) checks in the time frame that they are required. Adding to the responsibilities of the department, HR has the task of keeping the HR database up to date with staff’s personal information and employment data as this is an integrated system with payroll. Within HR we need to be the role model of RTH embedding the organisation values within our practice at all times.
As mentioned previously, the employees are the most valuable resources of an organisation. Therefore, recruitment of new staff is a vital role within the HRD. It is paramount that the best possible candidates are recruited to each post. In addition to possessing key skills, all staff must be fully onboard with the values and culture of the organisation. This will ensure the organsiation has the right skill mix for now and into the future. Recruitment is challenging in the current United Kingdom (UK) market with smaller rates of unemployment. Whilst this is good for the country’s economy, a consequence of this means that there are fewer people seeking employment, a smaller proportion of which will possess the ideal qualities for potential job openings at RTH.
Since the abolition of the default retirement age of 65 and the introduction of longer working careers, employees of the UK can now work for a longer duration. This is at the consequence of reduced job availability as more posts remain occupied for longer. Adding to this, a longer working duration can cause issues within the organisations, with an ageing workface who may resist the organisation’s evolution to adopt modern practices. Brexit has also had an impact on the UK’s employment where eastern Europeans are reported to be leaving the UK to head home before they might have no choice but to do so. Compounding the nationwide effect of Brexit, recent changes to junior doctor contracts have lead to many doctors and healthcare professionals leaving the UK to practice elsewhere, most notably Australia and New Zealand. For all these reasons, recruitment is a difficult process as all organisations are trying to recruit from a much smaller pool of people which becomes particularly challenging for filling posts for specialist professions.
The recruitment and selection role within RTH has many different stages. These include advertising the role and ensuring the job advert, job description and person specifications are worded accurately without discriminative content. The second stage involves managing the selection process and finally, the last stage is offering employment at RTH. Once a candidate has been offered a positon, the HRD need to work together to start the onboarding process. As part of this process, it is the responsibility of the HRD to take up references, occupational health clearance, right to work documentation and Disclosure and Barring checks together with checking the candidate’s qualifications and any registration that might be relevant to their role (i.e. Nursing and Midwifery Council and General Medical Council).
The HRD leads the onboarding process at RTH. However, the line manager does have a part to play and is responsible for signing off all the prospective employee’s clearances. Once these have all been agreed, the HRD is responsible for preparing and sending out the Contract of Employment along with a welcome pack that contains essential information on RTH (i.e. benefits, pensions and mandatory training information).
As part of the onboarding process, the HRD also leads on the induction process to ensure new employees learn about the organisation along with its values, mission and vision statements. The HRD at RTH carry out this process by arranging quarterly induction mornings which all new employees have a mandatory obligation to attend. The aim of this training is to help new employees feel welcome through meeting other new colleagues within the organisation. The main purpose of having an induction morning is to help all new employees feel settled into the organisation, learn about the values and culture and meet the Executive Team. All of this together will help employees feel onboard with their role and have an awareness of where their role sits within the organisation. This will, in turn, build a positive, functioning team allowing the organisation to increase their retention of staff with the overall benefit of reducing the costs of recruitment and preservation of staff numbers.
The HRD at RTH is also responsible for looking after the wellbeing of their staff, ensuring all employees are safe and treated with dignity and respect. To ensure this, the HRD have written policies for employees and managers to adhere to and cover a range of employment issues (i.e. managing absences, annual leave policies and flexible working). These policies are available for everyone to see on the intranet at RTH, promoting transparency. Policies are crucial across all organisations and are used widely by HRDs since they are important tools to implement and maintain an organisation’s HR strategy. At RTH we also have a dedicated Employee Assistance helpline which provides 6 x 50 minute counselling sessions with a dedicated counsellor, subsidised gym membership, childcare vouchers, interest free season ticket loan and a cycle to work scheme.
The HRD also leads on all employee relations issues. At RTH, this comes under the HR Manager’s role. Employee relations will cover all aspects of the relationship between the employer and the employee within their work environment. It is critical that any employee relations are carried out in-line with the policies and procedures of the organization, best practice and employment law. Any issues that do arise need to be carried out professionally, honestly within a clear framework with the main outcome being to resolve the issue and prevent recurrence. If these issues are dealt with correctly, it will help build trust in the working relationship between the employee and their line manager and the HRD. As a result, this can improve the wellbeing of staff which has a positive impact on the organisation, with an increased likelihood of it reaching its objectives. At RTH the HRD have access to an Employment Law and HR service to help ensure we are legal compliance.
The performance appraisal is another key function within the HRD and is the process of ensuring all employees understand what is expected of them in their jobs. It also allows managers to provide support and help their staff develop to meet expectations. This process also allows all employees objectives to be aligned with the organisation goals and helps ensure employees have a clear understanding what is expected of them.
At RTH the annual performance appraisal policy and procedure is lead by HRD. The executive team at RTH fully recognises the importance of having an annual performance appraisal and the significant effect this can have on the success of the organisation. At RTH the performance appraisal process enables the employee to discuss with their manager their performance against agreed objectives that were set the previous year. This meeting also allows for a discussion regarding the employee’s future potential and for the manager to offer guidance towards career planning. This process aims to benefit both RTH and their workforce by improving job performance and making it easier to identify strengths and areas for development. At the performance appraisal SMART objectives, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound, for the year ahead are discussed and agreed by the line manager and employee. It is paramount that any objectives set for the individual’s role fit into RTH strategic intentions. At RTH we have three strategic intentions for 2018-2021:
· Better demonstrate our impact (be able to evidence all the ways in which we make a difference)
· Ensure sustainable funding (have the money to deliver services in the long term)
· Develop and invest in community services (to reach more people and respond to demand)
At RTH the Director of HR has recently reviewed the performance appraisal policy to make it more user friendly following feedback and recommendations from line managers and staff. Before the new policy is launched, HRD are responsible for training all line managers so they understand and adhere to the new policy. This process shows the importance of an HRD being flexible and able to adapt to changing circumstances within the organisation. It is also extremely important that HRD are up-to-date with any changes in legislation for example the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the national living wage.
Another key function of the HRD is training and development. When new employees join any organisation they will bring their transferable skills and knowledge with them. However, these skills need to be developed further to enable them to keep up with business changes and the level of professionalism expected in their new role. This training development will motivate employees; it shows commitment from both the employer and employee and will help to improve employee engagement. At RTH it is the HRD’s responsibility to ensure all employees attend an Induction morning, as discussed previously, along with completing a suite of mandatory eLearning courses. These courses are assigned to an individual using the HR database and kept updated accordingly by HRD. We are then able to run reports to check our compliancy. It is essential that all staff complete their mandatory training as this type of training is required by law or where a statutory body has instructed an organisation to provide training on the basis of specific legislation (i.e. the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999). This also ensures employees have the knowledge to maintain a healthy and safe working environment for themselves and colleagues. In additional RTH is governed by the Care Quality Commissions and this is one of their standards that all employees are appropriately trained.
At RTH our HRD also need to offer support and training to our line managers. At RTH the relationship between the HR function and line managers have been subject to change in recent years. There is more responsibility for the line manager to use HRD processes and procedures to manager there staff appropriately. Together with HRD the line manager needs to promote RTH values and goals to all their staff. They need to use the HR policies effectively and seek guidance from HR when required. We have a manager’s skilled framework to assist our managers and it is HRD responsibility to provide additional training if required. On reflection this change has been difficult to put into practice as the line managers have found this change challenging. They are used to the older style of HR when the HRD function did all the administration work for them. I have also found this style difficult to put into practice, but I am learning and adapting my way of working, which means I am able to manage my time more effectively and achieve my objectives. “Line managers have a very important role to play, not only in the day-to-day management of people and operations but also in the implementation of HR policies, particularly in organisations where there’s devolution of HR activities towards line management”.CIPD(2017).LineManagers.Available:https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/people/hr/line-managers-factsheet. Last accessed 29/05/2018.