Human Resource Management vs. Personnel Management

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  • 0:01 Personnel Management Defined
  • 1:14 Human Resource…
  • 2:31 The Difference?
  • 4:27 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

Is there a difference between human resource management and personnel management? Some say there is, and some say there's not. In this lesson, we'll explore what these terms mean and present the case that there is a difference.

Personnel Management Defined

Peter works for a company in personnel management. Personnel management is an administrative function of an organization that exists to provide the personnel needed for organizational activities and to manage the general employee-employer relationship. Let's see how Peter does it.

Peter engages in planning and job analysis to determine his organization's current and future labor needs. He recruits employees with knowledge, skills and abilities that the organization needs. Peter and his coworkers will also help develop current employees through employee appraisal and training. He'll help ensure a safe and healthy workplace by making sure the organization complies with all occupational health and safety regulations.

He also helps develop a compensation system, including pay and fringe benefits. Peter also helps develop policies that ensure his organization complies with federal and state employment laws. Finally, Peter and the personnel department are often the primary intermediaries between employees and the organization. They manage many aspects of the employee-employer relationship, such as handling employee grievances.

Human Resource Management Defined

Helen works in human resource management (HRM). Human resource management also involves the management of people in an organization. The job of human resource management is to ensure that the organization has the human capital it needs to accomplish its goals. 'Human capital' is a fancy way of describing employees with a certain set of knowledge, skills and abilities that can be used by an organization in a productive way. Let's take a quick look at what Helen and other people in human resource management do.

Helen ensures that the company is appropriately staffed, which includes job analysis, planning, recruiting and selection. Helen and her fellow resource managers also develop training and education programs to keep employees up-to-date on the skills and knowledge they need. Human resource management develops compensation plans just like personnel management.

Helen also makes sure that the company maintains a safe and healthy work environment. She develops personnel policies that ensure compliance with various employment and labor laws. Employee relations are another key responsibility. If employees have general questions or concerns about the organization, they go to Helen and the human resources department.

The Difference?

You may be scratching your head at this point and asking yourself just what the heck the difference is between personnel management and human resource management? Both seem to be involved in the exact same activities, although some of the terminology might be a little bit different. You may be surprised to find out that some commentators and critics ask the same question.

In fact, some argue that human resource management is just a new name with more cache and an attempt to rebrand personnel departments to gain more respect for their role in the organization from upper management. Other commentators note that there are important qualitative differences between personnel management and human resource management. According to these commentators, it's a difference in the way the activities are approached.

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