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A people-focused career: Guide to HR Management [eBook available]

BY: SGI|12 November 2020
BLOG| My future career


Human resource management (HRM) is becoming increasingly popular as a career and there are no shortages of the value it adds to a company. In fact, it is increasingly being hailed as the key strategic business driver. Stellenbosch Graduate Institute (SGI) offers various online short courses in HR that enable first-line managers and HR professionals to understand the changing working environment and how best to support the development of an organisation’s culture.


If you’ve chosen to study human resource management (HRM), that’s great! HR plays an integral part in organisations – from ensuring a company complies with employment laws and hires the correct people, to helping employees develop the correct skills, perform their duties, and live up to their potential. This e-book provides an in-depth look at human resource management to help you choose the correct course.



Although most organisations have an HR department, many employees don’t fully understand the role it plays. Here are some of the top questions about HR that people ask Google – and all the answers you need.


1. What is human resource management?

Along with this question, people also ask: What is the purpose of the HR department? In short, HR encompasses recruitment, onboarding, compensation and benefits, performance management, training, organisational development and culture, and advice on how decisions about workers affect both the organisation and other workers within the organisation.


2. What are the challenges in HR?

Some of the most common issues faced by HR professionals include:

  • complying with the relevant laws and regulations;
  • changes in management and staff;
  • training and developing leaders and the workforce;
  • adapting to innovation.;
  • structuring compensation;
  • understanding the benefits provided by the company to its employees; and
  • recruiting and retaining talent.


3. What are the biggest challenges facing HR today?

In addition to many people-related challenges within organisations, the modern workplace is entering a new phase. As more and more of the workplace is digitised in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), HR will need to contend with the following new challenges:

  • The automation of processes.
  • Interactions between humans and machines.
  • Diversity within organisations and how this is managed.
  • Talent management, including how to source the correct skills and competencies.


4. What are examples of human resources?

Besides the obvious role of hiring new employees, HR also helps maintain the morale and culture of an organisation. Depending on how involved an HR department is within the organisation, HR staff can also create motivational compensation plans; maintain performance-appraisal programmes; ensure important information about employment benefits, laws, and other issues are provided to both managers and employees; help develop employee skills through training and other programmes; and deal with emotional aspects of labour and employment management as needed.


5. Why is HR important?

HR understands and recognises that people are assets to an organisation. It is people that help an organisation run effectively and achieve success. HR managers must ensure that these assets, or people, are happy and productive – which means finding the correct employees, developing their potential, and ensuring they fulfil their obligations.

6. What are the different positions in HR?

As with any other type of industry, HR encompasses a wide variety of positions. These include:


  • HR Generalist

This person manages all aspects of HR work and is usually employed at smaller companies. You will need extensive knowledge and skills in all aspects of the HR process.


  • HR Director or Manager

This is more of a supervisory role, although you will need knowledge of the entire HR process. In very large companies, HR directors or managers will head up a team that specialises in one area of human resources, such as employment, benefits, interviews, or conflict resolution.


  • Recruitment Specialist

Unlike HR generalists, this role is solely focused on recruiting talent. Often, recruitment specialists work alone or within an agency that deals only with a specific industry. In this role, you’ll need to search for applicants, interview and test them, and help negotiate offers of employment. You may also be required to travel extensively.


  • Training Managers

These training managers are focused on finding ways to help develop and train employees in their specific skillsets or departmental knowledge. You may do this through third-party training services or in-house, if you or someone else in the company possesses the knowledge to do so.



As our Q&A has shown, human resources is all about people relations. This, however, doesn’t mean that there aren’t certain skills that are highly sought after in the industry – and that will benefit you and your team in the long run. Brush up on the following skills to up your game – or take a look at one of our courses here to learn how to apply these skills in the workplace:


1. Communication

Being able to understand how others feel and express your own feelings is a vital aspect of human resources. In addition to good oral skills (you’ll be speaking a lot in interviews and meetings!), you’ll also need to deal with various people and their personalities to gain employees’ trust. Your writing skills are also important, as you’ll be tasked with writing memos, handbooks, and other inter-departmental communications.


2. Human resource information software

As more and more organisations start using technology across their companies, the old systems of hard-copy files may not be needed anymore. Make sure that you know how to use the latest HR software, such as Sage, which will not only speed up processes for you but also help keep everything organised and in one place.


3. Organisational skills

As we’ve demonstrated in the point above, organisation is key to keeping track of employee records and other important information. Staying organised, especially in large organisations, can prove difficult, so ensure that you put a system in place to help you stay on track.


4. Customer service

You might not think this is a skill for HR staff, but servicing skills are a big part of resolving workplace issues. Being able to field discipline, mediation, complaints, and comments will help you deal with conflict resolution in a manner that is unbiased and professional.



Managing Talent and the Workforce

This is a seven-week course for first-line managers and supervisors. The course aims to help you build relationships, manage diversity amongst employees and departments, ensure that workplace ethics are upheld, and apply practical techniques to support the organisation and its culture. In addition to offering the seven-week course, SGI also offers each component of the course as microlearning online courses, which can be completed separately. These courses are:


Being lord of the dance (Diverse workforce)

You’ll learn more about diversity in the workplace and the value it brings to an organisational unit or department. Once you’ve completed this section, you’ll be able to manage team members from diverse backgrounds and help mitigate disagreements and conflicts arising from diversity.


The definitive leadership skill (Talent management)

Creating a strategy to manage people is all in a day’s work for the staff in human resources! In this section, you’ll learn to analyse the education, training, and development needs of employees and create, implement, and manage a people development plan to ensure that each employee has the correct skills and knowledge to complete their duties and improve in the workplace.


Strategies of the healer (Workplace relationships)

Whether you’re a first-line manager or a member of the HR department, this section will help you liaise better with people, identify and minimise personal conflict in the work environment, and devise and implement strategies to help establish constructive relationships between managers and employees.


Being of service to others (Organisational culture)

Part of human resources is understanding the relationships between people, the organisation, and the ethical boundaries of the law. This section will help you cement that knowledge, apply the concept of corporate ethics to a situation, and formulate recommendations for strengthening the values and ethics within the organisation.


Getting to Yes (Negotiations)

An important aspect of HR is finding the right employees for the organisation – and getting them to come on board! After completing this section of the course, you’ll be prepared for negotiations and will be able to engage, evaluate, and finalise a negotiation agreement.



Human resources is an important part of any organisation and many of the skills required by HR staff are also very helpful to managers. Completing SGI’s Managing Talent and the Workforce course will enable HR professionals to overcome the challenges presented by 4IR, while the short microlearning courses are ideal for first-time managers and other leaders.


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