human resource management (HRM)

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Talent management system essential guide

Human resource management (HRM) is the governance of an organization’s employees.  HRM is sometimes referred to simply as human resources (HR).

A company’s human resources department is responsible for creating, implementing and/or overseeing policies governing employee behaviour and the behaviour of the company toward its employees.

Human resources are the people who work for the organization; human resource management is really employee management with an emphasis on those employees as assets of the business.  In this context, employees are sometimes referred to as human capital. As with other business assets, the goal is to make effective use of employees, reducing risk and maximizing return on investment (ROI).

Areas of HRM oversight include – among many others -- employee recruitment and retention, exit interviews, motivation, assignment selection, labor law compliance, performance reviews, training, professional development, mediation, and change management.


See also: onboarding and offboarding, personality profile, Hawthorne effect, Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE), employee assistance program (EAP), employee self-service (ESS), Director of First Impressions, social media policy soft skills, hard skills, emotional intelligence

This was last updated in August 2011

Next Steps

Expert Mary E. Shacklett offers advice on how to determine your organization's human resource management needs and priorities before buying HRM software. Read her in-depth explanation of different types of human resources management software and determine which HR tool is the right choice for your organization.

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