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What is Human Resources?

Ask any 20 people what they think HR is and you’ll no doubt get 20 different answers, most of which would be incorrect or woefully inadequate. It isn’t pseudo-welfare, nor an ‘admin’ function. Andrew Tough, founder of Pisces HR and a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development) with 40 years’ real HR business experience, offers a more enlightened definition.

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quote-openI’d describe the main role of HR as being to maximise the contribution made by the most valuable and costly asset within any organisation – its staff. The only business asset capable of appreciating in value.

HR deals with the biggest ‘variables’ in business (which possess such complications as pride, self-esteem, ambition, bad moods and inconsistency) interacting with other ‘variables’ within a continuously developing legal framework where there are frequently no ‘right’ answers, but where we always have to be right – first time.

To enable HR to make the maximum contribution possible within an organisation, we have to keep up-to-date with all UK employment-related legislation as well as significant case studies based on decisions reached by our higher courts. Keeping abreast of activity within the EU is also vital, as more and more UK employment-related legislation originates – or is influenced – from there. The only other aspect that needs to be factored into all of this is that everything changes!

Knowing the legal position is obviously essential, and, of course, you could obtain that from a good solicitor. However, I suggest that an experienced successful HR professional offers many advantages over the legal profession. Apart from being more cost-effective, these include considering ‘best practice’ as well as the commercial and pragmatic aspects of every people/business decision, being able to offer extensive techniques, processes, skills and experience gained and honed in the real world, and last but not least – knowing what actually works.

An experienced, effective, and timely HR input impacts on every aspect of the employee/company relationship, including:

  • Recruitment and selection
  • Probationary periods
  • Job design
  • Job grading structures
  • Shift patterns and premia
  • Pay, benefits and bonuses
  • Organisational structure & development
  • Disciplinary & grievance procedure situations
  • Dismissal
  • Redundancy
  • Performance management & improvement
  • Promotions and transfers
  • Working environment
  • Trade union representation, consultation and negotiation
  • Employee relations
  • Bullying, harassment, and discrimination
  • Confidential retention and use of people-related data
  • Training & development
  • Culture
  • Communication
  • Retirement



So, to me, HR is the most important management activity and responsibility in any organisation, and if there was ever a time that emphasised the importance of HR, it is now, in this era of economic challenge. While real HR matters enormously in good times, it can define your Company during bad times – and can even deliver a competitive advantage.quote-close

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Do you share our view of the value of HR to a business? If you would like to discuss how HR can benefit your Company, please

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Andrew's View

Different people view HR in different ways – and most fail to see its true value. HR is something I live and breathe, and care passionately about championing its benefits to business.

Read Andrew’s View »