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Introduction to Human Resources and business psychology

Human Resources (HR) are the people employed by an organisation, and Human Resource management is those aspects of management specifically relating to employment.  This includes managing the stages of the ‘employee lifecycle’:

  • Attraction, including the promotion of an organisation as a good place to work and advertising job vacancies;
  • Recruitment, including managing the selection process;
  • Onboarding: managing the successful entry of a recruit into an organisation, including actions to be performed on the first day and in the first few days, familiarisation with the organisation and initial training;
  • Development: includes training and education, planning career paths, managing the progression of high-potential employees;
  • Retention, including performance management, employee engagement and motivation, and remuneration and reward;
  • Separation through voluntary exit, retirement, redundancy and dismissal.

HR departments in organisations (also called personnel departments) are typically responsible for HR management in organisations large enough to have a separate unit for this purpose and oversee various aspects of employment.  They may develop an HR strategy to support the strategy of the organisation as a whole and draw up HR plans, for example identifying the numbers and types of employees required in future.  They often perform a range of administrative functions, such as managing payroll and benefits and keeping employee records, and handle discipline and grievance procedures.  They also ensure compliance with employment law and standards.

There are several handbooks on the market providing an introduction to the main areas of HR management.  Two of them are:

Armstrong’s Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice, by Michael Armstrong and Steven Taylor (Kogan Page, London; 13th edition 2014);

Introduction to Human Resource Management: A Guide to HR in Practice, by Charles Leatherbarrow and Janet Fletcher (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, London; 4th edition 2018).

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development is the professional society for HR professionals in the UK.  There is a Knowledge Hub on its website ( with reference materials on a wide range of HR topics.

Business psychology is “the study and practice of improving working life. It combines an understanding of the science of human behaviour with experience of the world of work to attain effective and sustainable performance for both individuals and organisations.”  (The definition comes from the website of The Association for Business Psychology,  Business psychology provides the science to underpin HR management.

The ABP commissioned two books that introduce business psychology:

Business Psychology in Practice, edited by Pauline Grant (Wiley, London; 2005)

Business Psychology in Action, edited by Pauline Grant (The Association for Business Psychology, Macclesfield; 2016)

A selection of business psychology case studies from the ABP’s Workforce Experience Awards Programme, Delivering Excellent Workforce Experiences, is also available as a free e-book: .


Friday 7th June 2019
Group of people