The essence of human resource development

If you’ve ever wondered what human resource development is, then this article should clarify things and show how this vital function fits in with the rest of human resource management.

The term refers to the development of an organisation’s human resources, which are its employees. This entails the training and development of employees so they can either perform better in their current position or advance to a more senior role. Human resource development is an important part of the ongoing work done by those in the human resources department. Organisations that invest more time and energy into their human resource development tend to be more successful and better able to adjust to changing times.


Study an MBA in Human Resources with Kenyatta University online

KU offers a fully online Master of Business Administration specialising in human resource management.

  • Duration: 2 years
  • Admission requirements: Honours degree with strong pass OR any degree and a relevant professional qualification certificate AND two years’ work experience.
  • Course fees payable in instalments
  • The course consists of 21 modules, each lasting 7 weeks

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What is human resource development?


Human resource development, sometimes called HRD, is the on-the-job training of staff and other skills development of employees aimed at improving an organisation’s operations. Almost any organisation and any employee can both benefit from human resource development.

A simple example would be an upmarket bar that sends its bar staff on a cocktail flaring course. The company benefits in that the bartenders will be able to impress customers and offer a new attraction. The employees benefit in that they have new skills that improve their careers without having to incur the cost or the time off from work that they would have needed if the training were not sponsored by the company.

HRD can be done in-house or be far less hands-on. While it can often be quite a goal specific and prescriptive, some companies also have policies in place to support further studies in their field. They may supplement or even fully sponsor course fees, while also allowing study leave and additional time off.

At KU, our online MBA programmes are aimed at mid-career professionals and some of our students are fortunate enough to be supported by their companies. These companies see the value in allowing employees the time and opportunity to improve their skill sets. Support from a company can take the form of covering all or some of the tuition fees as well as allowing additional time off for their studies.

Some larger companies such as accounting or law firms even offer additional in-house training and support. They assist their articled clerks and candidate attorneys to help them complete their board exams so they can qualify with the best results possible.

Another part of HRD is spotting talent. Someone may have had fewer academic opportunities and be limited to working in a junior position, but they could show the potential for a more senior role that they are not yet ready for. Companies that support employees in advancing their studies have the dual benefit of training up someone already familiar with the company as well as not having to incur the cost of first finding a suitably qualified candidate and then familiarising them with the company’s way of doing things.



Why human resource development is important


Most companies need to invest in human resource development if they want to be successful over the long term. Companies that assist employees with training and development often retain staff for far longer, while also benefiting from the greater skill sets that they develop for themselves. In today’s fast-changing world of work, it is imperative for companies to keep up. Companies that do not adapt to new technologies and ways of doing things will find themselves left behind their competitors

There is a well-worn anecdote within business circles to illustrate this fact. A company’s chief financial officer, concerned with incurring costs on training staff, asks the chief executive, “What happens if we train them and they leave?” The chief executive replies, “What happens if we don’t train them and they stay.”

The exact origins of this exchange are hard to pinpoint, but US industrialist Henry Ford shared a similar opinion when he allegedly said, “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.”

More recently, UK billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson gave a more modern and people-centred twist to this when he tweeted, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

Now that we’ve established the importance of HRD to an organisation’s ongoing success, let’s take a closer look at how exactly they go about it and what the specific goals are that they work towards.



The goals of human resource development


Environments and structures can vary immensely between different organisations, but there are still some common factors that are shared between small private companies, multinational corporations, government agencies and non-profit organisations. Here are seven benefits that all of these varied types of organisations can gain from investing in the development of their employees:

  • Helps the organisation reach its goals.
  • Ensures that employees are used to maximum benefit
  • Identifies and satisfies the needs of individuals
  • Boosts morale among employees
  • Ensures that employees are properly trained and motivated
  • Allows for employees to carry out their jobs better
  • Instils a sense of team spirit and collaboration
  • Reduces staff turnover



What is the difference between HRM and HRD?


The two fields are quite closely related but there are of course some important differences. As we’ve mentioned, human resource management is the wider of the two fields and HRD falls under HRM as one of its many components.

HRM has to do with all aspects of how employees interact with the rest of the organisation. This includes recruitment, managing payrolls each month, tracking and approving leave and sick days and settling retrenchment packages among others. HR managers are also concerned with things like inclusivity, diversity, safety compliance and employee development. It is this development aspect that makes up HRD.

Therefore, although HRD falls under the umbrella of the human resource department, not all human resource managers are necessarily involved with this function. Human resource management mostly focuses on the managerial and administrative aspects of an organisation to ensure that things run smoothly and efficiently. Human resource development on the other hand is concerned with the training of individuals in a way that is aligned to improving the organisation.

The exact HRD needs can differ drastically from organisation to organisation and not everyone involved in HRD necessarily has a background in human resource management. HRD professionals can also include trainers, lecturers and various experts in their field who mentor junior employees.



HR jobs in Kenya:


According to the US Bureau of Labor, a bachelor’s degree in human resource management is the usual minimum requirement for entry-level positions. There are many different roles within human resources and there are various academic routes you could take to qualify to work as a human resource manager. Two of the popular starting routes are a diploma in human resource management or a degree in human resource management. At the entry-level, you are unlikely to have a managerial role and will more likely be an administrative officer or another lower-level role.

If you would like to rise to higher managerial positions and take charge of an entire organisation’s human resource development plan, then a higher-level degree in human resources management will be very useful, such as honours or a master’s. Kenyatta University’s Master of Business Administration in Human Resources, for example, would qualify you for managerial and other senior posts.



Study an MBA in human resources


If you are interested in human resource development and would like to help people gain skills to further their careers, then human resources could be an excellent career choice. As we’ve shown, the best jobs in the industry tend to go to those who have more than just a bachelor’s degree in human resource management or a diploma in human resource management.

The Kenyatta University MBA in Human Resources programme will grow your career and expand your skills base in this sector. You do not have to already hold a degree in human resource management as the MBA programme allows entrants from a variety of academic backgrounds.

If you’d like to know more, please request information to learn more about this and KU’s other online programmes. If you meet the qualification requirements you can begin your studies no more than two months from now.

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