Skip to content

What is Human Resources?

The purpose of this guide is to equip employment social enterprises (ESE’s) with guidance, practical tips, and best practices for building and maintaining an effective internal HR function that aligns with their mission, values, and desired impact.

It is designed to serve as a guide for social enterprise organizations who are just starting out on their journey or are looking to improve or enhance one or all areas of their HR function.

This content emphasizes the importance of proactively embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion considerations into your HR practices, policies, and processes to ensure that all employees feel supported and valued in their work experience.

1. Understanding Human Resources

At the beginning of the journey, you’ll need to understand what Human Resources (HR)  is and its importance in supporting a healthy and equitable workplace. This includes understanding what HR is responsible for, including recruiting and hiring new employees, training and developing current employees, managing employee relations and benefits, and off-boarding employees when necessary.

2. Designing an Organizational Structure

The next step is to develop an organizational structure that supports the organization’s mission, goals, and operations. This includes understanding the roles and responsibilities of each employee, as well as ensuring that all employees have access to the resources and support they need to succeed.

3. Building the Culture and DEI Values

Culture and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are essential components of a healthy and equitable workplace. As such, you need to take DEI considerations into account when developing and maintaining an organization’s culture and practices to ensure that all employees feel supported and included.

4. Developing Hiring and Recruitment Practices

Hiring and recruitment are the processes of identifying, attracting, and selecting new employees to join an organization. Effective hiring and recruitment practices are essential to building a diverse and inclusive workforce that reflects the values and mission of the organization. This includes developing job descriptions, sourcing candidates, conducting interviews, and selecting new hires.

5. Onboarding New Employees

Once you’ve hired your first or a new employee, onboarding is important to help them get acclimated to your organization and the culture, as well as to the team and their new role. The process of integrating new employees into an organization, its culture, and operations. Effective onboarding practices help new employees feel welcome, supported, and prepared to contribute to the organization’s success.

6. Managing Employee Performance and Expectations

Performance management is the process of aligning the values and goals of the organization with the expectation of its employees through providing regular feedback, and supporting employees’ ongoing development. Effective performance management practices help employees feel valued, supported, and motivated to contribute to organizational  and employee success.

7. Developing a Compensation and Benefits Philosophy and Program

Compensation and benefits are the ways in which an organization pays and supports its employees. Effective compensation and benefits practices help attract and retain talented employees and support employee well-being in an equitable way.

8. Building and maintaining healthy relationships with your employees

Employee relations is the way in which an organization manages its relationships with its employees. Effective employee relations practices are important to an organization’s success and  help ensure that employees feel heard, respected, supported, and valued.

9. Ending the employment relationship: Separation and Off-Boarding

Separation and off-boarding are the processes of ending an employee’s relationship with an organization. Effective separation and off-boarding practices help ensure that employees leave the organization on good terms and with the support they need to transition to new opportunities.

Putting it All Together

Overall, by implementing the holistic HR and Talent Development areas discussed in this overview, you can foster caring relationships, continuous learning, and overall well-being among your organization and team. 

When equity, empowerment, and compassion are embraced at each stage of the employment lifecycle through your HR efforts, your organization is best positioned to retain top talent and facilitate innovation.

Most importantly, with partnership, purpose, and humanity foundational to how you lead and develop employees, your social enterprise gains the capabilities to meaningfully scale its impact well into the future. 

You and your team are now equipped to further empower change and continuously serve the community for years to come.

Additional Resources

  • B Lab: B Corp certification provides a framework for building and maintaining a socially responsible business, including HR best practices.
  • Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM): Provides a wealth of resources on HR best practices, compliance requirements, and professional development opportunities.
  • U.S. Department of Labor (DOL): Offers comprehensive information on federal labor laws, compliance requirements, and resources for employers.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): Provides guidance on equal employment opportunity laws and regulations.
  • State Labor Departments: Check your state’s labor department website for state-specific HR regulations, compliance requirements, and resources.

About S P A C E

S P A C E is a consulting firm that transforms the employee experience by creating a safe and positive work environment for all, particularly those who are most vulnerable to workplace adversity. They offer a range of services, including human-centered HR strategy and advisory, organizational development, and personal and professional development coaching and support.