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Defining Human Resource Management

The role of a Human Resources professional requires wearing many hats... but what does Human Resource Management really mean?

I was recently asked to define what I saw as Human Resource Management.  As a HR Professional you are often expected to wear many hats and I think it’s true to say that different practitioners will arrive at different definitions as to what exactly is ‘HRM’ - the field of HR is so broad.  It certainly is tricky to come up with a succinct definition.

So I explored my approach to defining my service proposition, which was to consider why a business might want to use a HR Consultant in the first place. I believe there are 5 key reasons:

However, even more than this, the job of a HR practitioner is to support line managers, support individuals, attend to the "*people agenda", and protect the business.

This last point is a biggy – an organisation needs to ensure that it’s people strategies echo the competitive decisions it takes in order to remain productive and profitable. Otherwise, it may find itself simply firefighting short-term responses to day-to-day pressures and challenges.

And let’s face it, if there is no business, there’s no people anyway, so all decisions and steps must remain commercially focussed.

Therefore, in order for a business to succeed through its people, it is essential that there is a continuous collaboration with HR to ensure the ongoing cycle of creation, facilitation and implementation…in a cost-effective manner of course!

How then to combine all of this into a concise definition – I think the following hits the mark:

“(Good) Human Resource Management (HRM) enables the competitive success of an organisation (or business) through effective application and management of robust policies and processes observed by workers in a rewarding workplace environment.”

*The “people agenda” is defined nicely by Jon Terry of PwC (UK) as including “attracting and retaining the right people, organising them in the most effective way, shaping the right culture and managing performance and reward.”


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