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Similarities Between HRM and Personnel Management

written by: •edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 2/19/2011

Human resource management and personnel management are different but do have some similarities. Here, HR Expert Jean Scheid tells us about the similarities between HRM and personnel management, as well as which is right for your business.

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    Defining HRM and Personnel Management

    HR and Personnel Management Back in the old days, prior to the 1980s, no one every sought out the human resources department--most of us found our employee answers in the “personnel" department. Author and HR trainer, Marco Köster, points out that personnel management has a stigma attached, sort of a “welfare image," and it’s based on “managing personnel from marginalization." Think of the old personnel department here that usually consisted of one or two staff, unilateral forms and staff answering not to an HR department head, but to upper management.

    Human resource management (HRM), on the other hand, which Köster says developed in the 1980s, looked at managing personnel in a way that “regarded people as the key resource of organizations."

    Basically, the duties and responsibilities of personnel management may have been stereotypical in nature where HRM looked at the whole employee, their uniqueness, traits, work habits, goals, and desires and managed at a higher level. HR tools included better recruitment processes, policy and procedure manuals, and a wide array of performance appraisals to develop and nurture the employee.

    So, along with these definitions of both types of employee management, what are the similarities between HRM and personnel management?

    Image Credit: MorgueFile/mconnors

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    What’s Similar?

    If we look at both of these management entities, while the differences may be many over a broad perspective, the similarities are often subtle, such as:

    Payroll & Associated Tasks – Within both the HRM and the personnel office, both manage payroll and all associated tasks such as benefit management, tax deductions, and garnishments. Both HRM and personnel management often utilize payroll software programs and track employees' time worked.

    New Hires – Again, another similarity between HRM and personnel management comes the new hire process. Once new hire polices are developed, both can handle orientation seminars, initial paperwork, explanation of company procedures and similar new hire activities.

    Documentation – Here again, both management entities can offer employee warnings and employee evaluations and maintain employee files.

    Development – Both the HR or personnel manager may indeed seek ways to improve employees through training, motivation, collaboration and mentoring, albeit HR management may turn to a more explosive and explored attack in this area.

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    Which Is Better?

    As an HR manager for many years, I think the type of management entity used for employees depends on the size of the company. Because there are some similarities between HRM and personnel management, the number of employees is often the factor that determines and defines each along with their uses.

    A smaller firm with less than 25 employees may find the worker fearful of a large human resources department. Further, a large HR department may be too costly for the small business owner. The small business owner may choose the office manager/personnel management position as a solution.

    Companies that employee a large number of people and have varied departments and locations—which is becoming the norm with telecommuting and the global economy--may wish to utilize human resource management to its full potential offering skilled and trained staff that provide a wide arrange of services to increase workplace motivation through job satisfaction. Companies on a larger scale that utilize HRM often have an HR manager and supervisors as well as staff to maintain the department—the difference being that the HR department is a single department with its own goals and responsibilities.

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    Consider Your Business

    Should HR be Big or Small Once you take an in-depth look at the similarities between HRM and personnel management, consider the size of your company. You may opt to utilize the “personnel department;" however, to use it effectively or if combined with another position, offer training that is geared toward improving the quality of the workplace as well as the needs, wants and goals of each employee.

    If HRM is the new way of the world and you can’t afford a large HR department, you can consider outsourcing your HR needs and relying on recruitment and training centers to hire and develop your staff.

    The avenue you choose will indeed depend on what you can afford, although negating the use of good human resource management may, in the long run, be detrimental--especially when it comes to interpreting employment laws.

    Image Credit: MorgueFile/sri_grafix

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    Human Resource Management Versus Personnel Management, GRIN Verlag (September 2007) Marco Köster ISBN-10: 3638802027 / ISBN-13: 978-3638802024

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