The role of HR in an organization is complex but vital as it contributes to many strategic decisions that directly and indirectly impact the workforce. One of the long-term planning elements for an organization is basic succession and career development plans. Succession planning is a long-term process of preparation focusing on keeping talent in the pipeline. It is highly beneficial for businesses as employees remaining with the company retain institutional knowledge and culture, and it boosts morale and engagement. In the process of succession planning, the organization seeks to determine a long-term career path for an employee with the company.
One is potentially to replace highly specialized competencies that require both experience and knowledge, especially within a business or potential leadership positions. Even if it is simply for regular positions, promoting from within a company most often has its benefits from a cost and morale perspective, so developing talent by filling in skills gaps with training.
Succession planning mitigates the effect of both anticipated and sudden vacancies in key positions, as the process has been preparing an employee for the job for months or years. HR may not always be the initiator or creator of a succession plan, but it is ultimately responsible for its implementation. HR works with upper management to hire high-quality individuals, develop evaluation and training programs, implement employee retainment programs, assist in the maturation of succession candidates, and recommend appropriate compensation.
HR may not make the decision for downsizing; it works closely with management to oversee it. Downsizing is typically a serious decision, HR is consulted first to determine if alternatives are available such as reduction of hours, bonuses, benefits, and other cost-cutting measures. Other measures can be implemented in the long-term for workforce reduction, such as hiring freeze, furloughs, early retirement, and voluntary layoffs. If these are not enough, HR has to perform two functions. First, it must analyze departments and internal functions to ensure that the organization’s productivity and output remain high.
Essentially, crucial employees are identified, and HR, along with management, decide which employees are essential to daily function and which can be laid off without damage to the business. HR must develop and present objective selection criteria to follow legal protocols and proper practices. At this point, it is the role of HR to be present as downsizing occurs, fulfilling legal obligations, and provide support to employees. In the aftermath, HR has to continue monitoring workforce function with decreased personnel and ensure that there is a high level of productivity and morale.
Since HR is directly involved in facilitating and overseeing the recruitment process, it is critical that they provide accurate job descriptions and candidate specifications to attract the right talent. It is the sole role of HR to maintain these descriptions up to date because the job description impacts everything from recruiting to training to succession planning and legal compliance. HR may not know the full functions of every position in every department, but they should be aware of how each job description fits within a business and the organizational structure.
HR must provide descriptions and specifications that provide a simple, useful explanation of the tasks and duties of the position, the specific nature of work, and the expected competencies and characteristics of the candidate. Job descriptions are crucial in many ways, from recruiting competent employees to ensuring consistency of responsibility in positions across departments to ensuring compliance with regulations for fair labor standards and non-discrimination legislation.