Human Resource Management: What Is It?

From recruiting to termination, from onboarding to further training, from payroll to cost accounting – human resource management has many tasks. As essential for the company as the workforce itself, this department occupies an important position. It is not for nothing that the range of courses in this area is increasing.

In this article, we summarize briefly and concisely what you are dealing with when it comes to Human Resource Management.

Definition: What is Human Resource Management?

The task of Human Resource Management (HRM) is to optimally use the knowledge, skills and motivation available to the company in the form of human resources. HRM organizes, promotes and manages work as a resource for the benefit of the company’s success.

People management is often mentioned as a synonym, although HR management can also be seen as a further development or extension of personnel management. It is integrated into more areas of the company (than classic HR management) and has additional tasks.

Tasks in HRM

The tasks that are managed within HRM can be broken down as follows:

Human Resources Management


Demand Planning

Succession Planning

Cost Planning

Demand Planning

Continuing Education

Learning Management

Talent Management


Knowledge Management

Cultural Management

Conflict Resolution/Mediation

People Management




Competency Management


Areas of Responsibility

Job Descriptions

Process Organization

Costs Management

Staff compensation



One point that runs through several of these individual domains is employee motivation. The Human Resource Department is also responsible for this. HRM can already be applied during the candidate experience in order to give the applicants a pleasant image of the company. This goes as far as human resource development, because employees who are supported in their personal development are more motivated to bring what they have learned to the company right away. General appreciation, such as fair wages and rewards, can also emanate from HRM.

Human Resource Management: What Is It? | CLEVIS

Human Resource Management is also responsible for ensuring that the corporate culture and interactions with each other are fair to the company, as well as that the working atmosphere is right and conflicts are actively dealt with or do not arise at all.

In Change Management, the HR department is the authority that carries the change to all departments and ensures that nobody feels left behind by the change. If agile organizations are about self-determination and self-organization, the HR Manager can support his colleagues with targeted Empowerment.

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The personnel policy forms the basis of all measures taken by personnel management. The bottom line is that it should be aligned in such a way that a long-term security of qualified employees and thus productivity and innovation are guaranteed.

People management and its importance in the company

In a hierarchically structured organization, human resource management should be located at the top management level. After all, the company stands and falls with its workforce and to organize and develop them competently is the A&O for the company’s success.

In addition, the HR department must keep an eye on everything, after all, one of their tasks is to keep track of the quantitative and qualitative personnel requirements and to cover these requirements. For this purpose, employee groups are often created according to availability and strategic importance.

Last but not least, the reason for the central role of human resource management in the company is that it must be in close contact with all departments and department heads. Since this department is about the people and their skills and activities, it has to be very close to these people, not least in order to build the necessary trust.

Current Developments in Human Resources

People management is also not immune to rapid changes. Therefore, there are some trends that professional human resource managers are adapting to. Below we summarize what is currently happening in this area.

  • Change in Organizational Forms
    More and more companies are trying alternative forms of organization and are moving away from the rigid hierarchical structure. This also changes the role of the employees and the structure of the departments. Even the HR department is not immune to this. It is restructured itself and has an essential function in change management.
  • Change in Working Models
    Working models are also undergoing change. Many activities can now be carried out flexibly in terms of time and location. Employees like to use this to better coordinate their private life and work. This flexibility brings complexity to the day-to-day work of human resource management. Virtual teams, freelancers, etc. are to be managed differently than permanent employees with a given to-do list.
  • Salary Transparency and Gender Pay Gap
    “You don’t talk about money.” What used to be an iron taboo is now being laid on the table, in the truest sense of the word. Salary expectations are dealt with more openly and there is also more transparency among the employees in this regard. In terms of gender pay gaps in particular, action is needed in companies’ salary policies.
  • Further Training against the Background of Digitization
    Digitization brings incredible benefits. Although there is a need for further training as a result of technological development, this can also be covered in an efficient and exciting way by digitized learning methods. Simulators with VR, digital knowledge platforms, etc. take learning to a new level.
  • Data Use and Privacy
    HR analytics, employee databases and the like are valuable tools to make HRM work easier. However, the collection of data also entails the obligation to protect data. A learning process as well as rethinking and caution are required here.
  • Employee Participation, Self-Organization and Self-Determination
    Gone are the days when employees completed tasks unquestioningly and went about their routine work relatively uninvolved. The requirements change in such a way that the individual employees are given a high degree of personal responsibility, initiative and freedom of action. Human Resource Management is there to provide support during this change process and later on.
  • Recruiting: Active Sourcing, Employer Branding, Google for Jobs
    In the war for talent, recruiting strategies are changing. HR professionals court potential employees and customers and try to gain their expertise for the company. Active sourcing and employer branding are keywords that will become standard in recruiting in the future. Platforms such as Google for Jobs, which was recently launched in Germany, will certainly not disappear from the scene anytime soon.

Digitization & Software: HRM with a System

Digitization not only poses challenges for HR departments in terms of training and data protection, it also makes the work of HR managers easier. By data usage with the help of intelligent software, large parts of the task areas can run much more efficiently.

Data collection, analysis and interpretation of the most important KPIs as well as HR Analytics are facilitated and important insights are made possible – possibly soon in real time thanks to digitization. Databases that record the skills of employees, such as a talent pool, can also be managed digitally in an extremely practical way. This is the only way they can offer real added value in project management or in competence analysis.

Criticism of the Term: Human Capital?

Last but not least, we would like to say a word about the criticism of the term “Human Resources”. Similar to “workforce management”, “human capital” also suggests that these terms are degrading the workforce to a quantifiable commodity and that they are not being given the necessary respect. In fact, the word “human capital” was voted non-word of the year in 2004 as well.

One thing is certain in this debate: as soon as disrespectful treatment actually occurs in practice and employees are viewed as “human working animals”, to put it bluntly, it will take revenge one way or another.

The bottom line is that one thing in human resource management should be of the highest quality – the person behind the work position.

Human Resource Management FAQs

What does Human Resource Management mean?

The task of human resource management (HRM) is to make optimal use of the knowledge, skills and motivation that a company has in the form of human resources.

HRM uses work as a resource to organize, facilitate and control the success of the company.

What are the Responsibilities of a Human Resource Manager?

Human resource managers are typically responsible for developing, implementing and overseeing the organization’s employee policies and relationships with employees.

By definition, an HCM Manager plans, directs and coordinates the administrative functions of an organization’s human resources department.

What are the goals of Human Resource Management?

In essence, Human Resource Management pursues one goal above all: Smooth processes in a flourishing company.

A number of measures are required to ensure this.

In addition to recruiting new employees, it is also about employee retention, because the more employees feel valued, the more they see the meaning of their work and the happier they are.

Why is Human Resource Management so Important?

Human Resource Management makes it easier to achieve goals, above all by planning the qualitative and quantitative personnel requirements.

For this purpose, the employees are divided into employee groups according to their strategic importance for the company.

An effective HCM concept can attract the best talent, maximize their potential and enable them to pursue a successful career through qualification measures.

How does Human Resource Management Differ from People management?

Human resources management is often used as a synonym for human resource management, although HCM can also be seen as a further development or extension of human resource management.

Human Resource Management is integrated into more areas of the company (than classic personnel management) and has additional tasks.

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