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Human resource management in the 21st century

What is human resource management?

Human resource management (HRM) is a business function that includes everything to do with the ‘people’ of a business – from recruitment and staffing to training and development, appraisals, salary, benefits, and even misconduct and termination. 

Those working in human resource management, or a human resource (HR) team, play a vital role in designing organisational policies that help employees know their rights as a part of the business, and understand business expectations and organisation objectives and vision. 

Defining human resource management for today

The term ‘human resource management’, originally called ‘personnel management’, was initially used to describe this vital business function from around the late 1970s to the early 1980s. However, as society changed in the later years of the 20th century – so did the workforce.  

No longer an administrative function, human resource management has evolved rapidly over the past 40 years. Suddenly, HR managers were dealing with issues they’d never faced before, as legislation around equal opportunity and discrimination was changed. Federal and State/Territory Acts in this area have been in place since about 1977 but have undergone numerous revisions. 

Even a century after the business function emerged as a ‘discipline’, we’re still seeing rapid change and evolution. The role of HRM in a modern organisation is no longer defined by hiring and firing – HR professionals are now often deeply involved in strategic planning and decision-making.

Today’s human resource managers need to be flexible. They have refined skills either as a professional generalist or as an expert specialist to help people propel businesses forward in a world drastically changed by digitalisation, globalisation, continual social shifts and even the recent pandemic.   

What do human resource managers do?

HR managers wear many hats and have visibility and oversight across the business. HR professionals and teams will:

  • Align the goals and objectives of employees with the vision of the company 
  • Curate high-performing teams, putting the right people in the right roles 
  • Focus on employee wellbeing and satisfaction to build a happy workforce and sustainable workforce
  • Facilitate social relationships within the organisation to improve morale
  • Improve employee skills through training and development 
  • Find and attract the best ‘talent’ to help achieve organisational goals 
  • Ensure diversity and inclusion in the workforce 
  • Use people analytics to inform decision-making
  • Participate in change programs to help employees thrive in uncertain times.
What is human resource management

Are human resource managers in demand in Australia?

Human resource managers are at the coalface of business change, growth, challenges and successes. No matter the size of an organisation trusted and skilled HR professionals are needed to do the hard work of driving interpersonal relationships and business culture while keeping up with legislation and workplace regulations.

According to Labour Market Insights, human resource managers are in high demand, with expected growth in the HR workforce predicted for the next four years. By 2026, Australia will need an additional 19,300 HR jobs to meet demand – a 16.3 per cent increase from 2021.   

So, it’s an exciting time to consider a career in HRM, a field that offers great diversity and certainty. 

What’s the difference between a generalist and a specialist human resource manager?

A generalist HR manager understands and handles a broad range of HR responsibilities as part of their role. Smaller organisations attract generalists as they only have a small team or department where everyone picks up different responsibilities day-to-day. 

The role of human resource management in a larger organisation often requires HR professionals to do more specialised work. A specialist HR manager has deep knowledge and skill in a focus area. HR specialists usually work as generalists before deciding on an area to hone. 

Specialist responsibilities include talent acquisition and management, payroll, training and development, and even HR systems.    

What’s the earning power of an HR manager?

Human resources management is an area with lots of opportunity right now, with excellent job growth forecasts and an ever-evolving field that keeps things interesting. So, how much does an HR manager earn in Australia?

According to SEEK, the average human resource manager salary is $120,000–$140,000 each year, while human resource officers earn around $75,000–$85,000 each year. However, salaries vary based on location, organisation, and whether you are a generalist or specialist HR professional.   

How do I start my career in human resource management?

Qualification is the first step towards establishing or enhancing your HR career. Monash’s online Graduate Certificate of Human Resource Management is ideal if you’re entering HR, building on some work experience or an existing business qualification.   

After completing the Graduate Certificate, you might decide to continue to the Master of Human Resource Management, an advanced course that will set you up as an HR leader. 

Learn more about how to start your career in human resource management with Monash Online by calling a course consultant today on 1300 272 509 or arranging an online booking.