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What Are Human Resources?


Human resources are your most important asset

Human resources are your most important asset

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Question: What Are Human Resources?

The number one glossary suggestion and question that people request on this site is: “What is the definition of human resources?”

William R. Tracey, in The Human Resources Glossary defines Human Resources as: "The people that staff and operate an organization … as contrasted with the financial and material resources of an organization."

In a second meaning, Human Resources is also the name of a department or functional area from which the employees provide HR services to the rest of the organization. Find out more about the HR department.

Human Resources evolved from the term: personnel, as the functions of the field moved beyond paying employees and managing employee benefits. The evolution of the HR function gave credence to the fact that people are an organization's most important resource. People are an organization's asset. Employees must be hired, satisfied, motivated, developed, and retained. See how the new roles of the HR employees have evolved.

Learn what an HR manager, generalist, and assistant does.

Long a term used sarcastically by individuals in the line organization, because it relegates humans to the same category as financial and material resources, human resources will be replaced by more people and organization friendly terms in the future.

These are terms in use already to replace Human Resources as the name of the office that deals with people, for example: VP, Office for People; Vice President, Talent and Culture.

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