Look at the graphic below and read the introductory section before completing the exercises on the right.

According to Jack Welch, in his book Winning, the Human Resources (HR) department of any organisation is the most important. Yet it also one of the most widely misunderstood parts of an organisation and there are many perceptions of what HR do, some of which are accurate and others which are far wide of the mark. The graphic above has been compiled by Omega after carrying out research with many of our clients. It represents most of the ideas expressed in the research about what HR does.

© Omega Support Services 2017

Note to Tutors using this Resource

This speaking lesson is dependent on discussion around the ‘What do Human Resources do?’ graphic and for best utilisation of the lesson it is important that the students have a printed copy to work from as they will need to write numbers in the circles next to each element. Ensure that students have printed copies before conducting the lesson.

Particularly if you are unfamiliar with HR it will be of benefit for you to complete the tasks before giving them to the students. Even if you are knowledgeable about HR it may be of benefit to complete the tasks anyway.

Download Print-friendly PDF version

1. Why do you think Jack Welch considers HR to be the most important department in an organisation? Do you agree?

2. Now look carefully at the graphic. Soon you will discuss the validity of what it shows, but for now would there be anything you would add to this list?

3. Now look at the graphic again and assign a number to each item, writing it in the circle provided. The number should represent how much of a priority HR should have in doing it. Each item should be marked individually in the circle provided. Use the following scale:

  • 0. HR should NOT do this
  • 1. HR may have a small role in this
  • 2. It is part of HR’s role
  • 3. HR has a big role in this
  • 4. This is a key part of what HR do
  • 5. This is an essential part of HR’s work

Now explain to your tutor the reason(s) for why you have assigned the numbers to the different roles.

4. The graphic was created on the basis of perceptions more than reality. To what extent can perception be damaging or helpful to understanding the role HR plays?

5. It is widely stated that perception defines reality, what can an organisation do to ensure that reality defines perception?

6. In the past Human Resources used to be known as Personnel Departments. Some people oppose the term Human Resources (or even Human Assets) as it makes people into objects / things like other resources. Are these opponents right in how they think? Do you have any preference?