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What does Human Resources do?

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Many people are unclear what a Human Resources function does – what is it’s purpose and what do you do all day?

But the recent scandal in the House of Commons where an MP was using the internet to look at “tactors” on the internet provides an opportunity for an HR or Human Capital Department to add value and take the lead in setting out standards of behaviour at work.

The foundations of good HR practice are HR Policies and Procedures. These set out the standards of behaviour expected of employees at work and what the consequences might be if rules are transgressed.

Peter Lawrence, director of Human Capital Department (56585254)
Peter Lawrence, director of Human Capital Department (56585254)

What is the organisation’s attitude to us of the internet, and social media; does the company allow drinking during the working day for example?

Once these rules are in place and have been communicated to the workforce, they then need to be policed. This is an unpopular notion for many working in HR who prefer to think if their role as advisory but sometimes we need roll our sleeves up and get our hands dirty.

HR has a role as incidents need to be investigated and it is useful if these investigations are carried out by someone relatively neutral rather than the line manager.

Recently I was asked to carry out an Investigation into allegations of threats of violence against the management. Such behaviour is unacceptable and damaging to the reputation of the organisation.

Human Capital Department (56585249)
Human Capital Department (56585249)

The investigation resulted in a disciplinary hearing and dismissal of the employee.

It might sound harsh, but standards of behaviour must be adhered to and where someone has broken the rules action must be taken, otherwise the message is you can get away with that and there will be no consequences if you do that.

In the case of MPs in the House of Commons one simple change would be to reduce the number of bars in the House of Commons or restrict opening hours to evenings – no lunch time drinking – or restrict sale of alcohol.

Use of smart phones could also be restricted with them being banned in the debating chamber.

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