HR department structure and functions

In this blog post, we take a look at the various HR department structure and functions and give a guideline on how to structure your HR department.

The HR department is a critical component of any company. Human Resources professionals are tasked with the responsibility of overseeing the hiring process, maintaining employee records, and ensuring the company complies with applicable labour laws.

HR department overview

The human resources (HR) department is responsible for a variety of functions in an organisation. The most common functions include recruitment, employee relations, training and development, and benefits administration.

Importance of an effective HR department

An effective HR department can be a competitive advantage for an organisation. It helps the organisation attract and retain top talent, manage employee benefits, and create a positive work environment. When aligned with the organisation's business goals, HR can help drive organisational success.

Benefits: The benefits of having an HR department

An HR department is beneficial to a company for many reasons. The department can help with hiring and onboarding new employees, managing employee records, handling employee benefits, and addressing any employee concerns.

The department can also help create a positive work environment and culture within the company. Having an HR department can help a company run smoothly and efficiently.

Functions: HR's primary functions

The primary functions of HR are to attract, develop, and retain talent. While also managing employee benefits and creating and maintaining a positive work environment.


The HR department must also align its strategies with the organisation's business goals. To do this, HR works closely with other departments, such as finance, marketing, and operations. By collaborating with other departments, HR can ensure that the organisation's workforce is best-positioned to achieve its objectives.


HR functions 

The structure of an HR department may vary depending on the size and needs of the organisation. However, most HR departments have similar organisational structures that consist of several different divisions or teams.


1. Hiring

This function includes recruiting candidates, reviewing applications and resumes, conducting interviews, and making hiring decisions.

2. Employee Relations

The employee relations team is responsible for developing policies that protect both employers and employees from potential disputes or grievances between them.

3. Compensation & Benefits

Compensation includes salaries as well as bonuses or other forms of compensation such as stock options; benefits include health care coverage, retirement plans and other types of benefits such as vacation days or tuition assistance for employees’ children.

4. Training & Development

This function provides training to new hires to help them succeed at their job while also providing ongoing training throughout the office. The training and development team designs and implements training programs to help employees improve their skills and knowledge. They may also be responsible for onboarding new employees and orienting them to the organisation.

5. Safety: 

The health and safety team is a vital part of any HR department. The team's primary function is to ensure the safety of employees in the workplace. This includes conducting risk assessments, developing safety policies and procedures, and investigating accidents and incidents. The team also works closely with other departments in the company to ensure that all health and safety regulations are followed.

6. Employee wellness programs

Employees today are fighting obesity, anxiety, and other mental health issues. The best way to help them is to provide them with a variety of programs that will help their well-being. These programs can include Employee Wellness Programs, Health Services, Medical Plans, and Disability Insurance.

7. Laws and regulations

Compliance with laws and regulations is a common issue faced by HR departments. There is a myriad of laws and regulations that businesses must comply with, ranging from employment laws to health and safety regulations.

This can be a daunting task for any HR department, but there are steps that can be taken to ease the burden. First, it is important to have a clear understanding of all the laws and regulations that apply to your business. Second, delegate responsibility for compliance to specific individuals or teams within the HR department.


Structure: HR department structure and functions

The HR department is typically structured into several different divisions or teams, each with its own specific focus.

For example, there may be a recruitment team responsible for sourcing and hiring candidates, an employee relations team responsible for managing employee records and benefits, and a training and development team responsible for providing onboarding and ongoing training to employees.

The structure of an HR department can vary depending on the needs of the organisation.


Common Organisational Structure Types that can be used to help HR department structure and functions

There are a few different types of organisational structures that businesses can use. There are several types of organisational structures that companies can use. The type of company and the industry will dictate which structure is best for the company. The four most common types of organisational structures are hierarchical, functional, flat, and matrix.

1.   Hierarchical structure

The most common type is a hierarchical structure, which is also known as a top-down approach. This type of structure has a clear chain of command, where each person reports to only one person. This can create a very efficient way of running a business, as long as everyone knows their role and responsibilities.

2.           The flat structure

Another type of structure is a flat structure, which is also known as a horizontal approach. This type of structure has fewer levels of management, and each person has a wider range of responsibilities. This can create a more collaborative environment, where people are encouraged to work together.

3.           The functional

The functional structure is the most traditional and is used in most companies. This type of structure groups employees together by their function or skill set.

There is a chain of command with this type of structure and each employee has a specific job to do. The advantages of this type of structure are that it is easy to implement and understand, and it can help to improve communication and efficiency within the company.

The disadvantages of this type of structure are that it can lead to silos within the company and make it difficult to respond to changes in the market.

4.           The matrix

In a matrix organisational structure, the HR department functions and responsibilities are divided between two reporting lines: one line that reports to the business unit manager and another line that reports to the functional manager. The HR department is responsible for coordinating and managing the activities of the two lines.

While being responsible for both the business unit and the functional managers, the HR department coordinates and manages the activities of both managers.

The HR department is responsible for ensuring that the business unit manager and functional manager are aware of each other's plans and activities. The HR department also ensures that the two managers are able to work together to achieve the organisation's goals.


Getting started:

HR department structure and functions

It's important to be aware of growth projections and your organisation's needs before deciding on an HR department structure. The following steps will help you to make the right decision:

1. Understand your organisational key functions and company needs

If you want to be an effective leader, you should start by understanding the role of HR, which is crucial in achieving organisational goals. Most companies have consistent needs for recruitment and training, conflict resolution, and compensation and benefits administration. Smaller companies have different HR needs, so it's important to know what type of system will suit you best. Identifying the specific HR needs of your company will help you decide on your organisation structure.

2. Choose a HR structure that benefits your goals

Thinking about the way your company is structured, the size of your company, and how it operates can help you decide on a structure that will best meet the needs of both teams. It's important to consider who works for you and what their roles are as well.

You may have to hire people in different positions that can handle human resources if you have a larger company. Alternatively, if you are hiring a third party, make sure they can handle all aspects of the HR department.

3. HR team competencies

You might want your HR team to have certain core competencies in order to manage employees better. Competencies can be knowledge, skills, abilities, or characteristics that contribute to individual performance. Here are some competencies often required from an effective HR professional:

  • Communication: The HR specialist is the voice of the company and needs to be able to communicate with different groups of people. This includes direct communication with employees, management, and other HR representatives.

As HR specialists, it is important for us to have a good understanding of different fields and be able to speak well with people from these disciplines. Communicating complex challenges in a way that makes sense for the individual and their own specific area is key.

  • Relationship management: Great leadership skills not only help you manage your employees, but it also helps you avoid employee-related problems.
    Management is a key part of leadership. It's not only about managing your employees, but it also helps you avoid employee-related problems.


  • Leadership: The professional world is changing. Companies that want to be the best need to focus on things like culture, wellness, and creativity. This is because companies don't just compete with other companies – they also compete for talent.

Today, many companies are investing in programs to first, focus on building an environment that is collaborative and welcoming. This helps retain talent and keep employee satisfaction high.

  • Business acumen
    Companies struggle to stay competitive in today's world, but they can maintain their success with the right HR team.

The HR department is responsible for building a cohesive and productive workforce by implementing new policies and designing projects that are aligned with the company's vision, mission, strategic goals, and culture.

A good understanding of an organisation's vision, mission, strategic goals, and culture helps HR professionals create policies that work for the work environment and design projects to best support it.

4. Department size matters

The size of an HR department will vary depending on its organisation's size and the scope of its responsibilities. For instance, an HR department that offers extensive training and development programs will most likely be larger than one that handles recruitment, benefits, and payroll. A business is always going to need an HR department that can adjust with the company - any restructuring across the company will likely affect HR.

5. Define your measures of success

Once you're able to start measuring your HR department, it's important to measure what success looks like so that you can keep things on the right track. HR metrics use a variety of data to track how efficient a company's HR department is. You can measure productivity, staff turnover, employee satisfaction, manager satisfaction, or training effectiveness.



If you enjoyed this blog post on the different HR department structures and functions then you may be interested in learning more about Talent Acquisition in HR. Read our blog post on this subject here.

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