Insight |

HR Checklist: The 7 pillars of human resources


HR Checklist: The 7 pillars of human resources

Insight |

HR Checklist: The 7 pillars of human resources

Ensure your HR strategy covers all the bases we cover in this HR checklist. Human Resource Management (HRM) or simply "HR" is the organisational department tasked with managing people to achieve optimal performance.

An efficiently run human resource department can provide the structure needed to achieve business goals through managing your company’s most valuable asset – employees. In order to do this, there are quite a few boxes you need to tick across seven essential functions of HR.

In our HR checklist below, we provide a discussion of each functional area with suggested action steps.

HR Checklist

1. Recruitment and selection

Recruitment and selection are the most visible aspects of HRM practices to those outside the company. Hiring talent who fits in with the organisational culture is imperative to continued growth. But, to hire the most talented staff they must first be identified and engaged – a challenging task in this competitive market. If not done correctly, the company’s recruiting efforts can result in unqualified applicants, applicants who lack diversity, or who decline offers.

HR checklist actions:

  • Set recruitment objectives: type of positions to be filled, number of open positions, applicant qualifications in terms of education and work history.
  • Develop a recruiting strategy: involves a specific plan of action for reaching recruiting objectives. This includes a sourcing strategy, recruiting costs, recruitment messaging, talent engagement to position the company as an attractive workplace; pre-selection tools such as assessments; time-to-hire, diversity and inclusion initiatives to foster a diverse talent pool and support their growth and development in the company.
  • Collaborate with hiring managers: building a consultative partnership with hiring managers can result in a smooth-flowing hiring process. As hiring managers are often in a hurry to hire, recruiters should set expectations early in the process, providing a realistic timeframe and sourcing strategy.

2. Performance management

Performance management is the process of improving performance through feedback, reviews and goal-setting and tracking. It’s important for management to clearly define performance expectations or collaboratively set goals with employees, as employees can’t hit an invisible target!

Communicating expectations and providing constructive criticism help to build and maintain employee morale. Employees who are empowered to reach their full potential and provided with support to overcome barriers increase their productivity, work more efficiently and deliver quality work, all of which improve the profit margin of the business.

HR checklist actions:

  • Choose your performance management approach: this could be a continuous performance management model where the manager meets with employees on a regular needed basis; weekly one-on-ones; monthly reviews; group meetings; annual reviews, etc. One of the most effective methods of empowering employees is to assign a senior employee to mentor and coach new hires. This also provides the new hire with a source of support and a sense of inclusion.
  • Tools for performance management: consider whether HR provides managers with a performance review template, or whether you’ll use your HR software or dedicated performance management tools to streamline the process.
Performance Visibilty for Leaders
intelliHR’s automated performance summary reports provide a historical view of an employee’s achievements, goals and feedback.
  • Measure performance improvement: consider how managers will monitor and measure improvement. This might be through goal achievement or a qualitative measure like management by objectives where the manager sets specific goals and reviews goal attainment during one-on-one meetings. For example, in software development, managers could calculate errors per thousands’ lines of code. In manufacturing, product defects are another observable and objective method of evaluating performance.

Want to save time on performance reviews and empower your people to reach their potential? Learn more about intelliHR’s performance tools.


3. Learning and Development

Learning and development is that part of human resource management tasked with aligning employees’ performance with that of the company.

Those responsible for learning and development need to identify knowledge or skill gaps among employees (whether those gaps arise from a change in processes, new technology, or upcoming legal regulations) and develop and deliver training to close those gaps. In this way, learning and development policies help employees to reskill and upskill, thereby offering opportunities for future company growth.

HR checklist actions:

  • Align learning and development with overall business goals: consider new company initiatives and ensure there is a learning and development strategy to accompany the change. For example, if the company is re-branding, be sure to incorporate this initiative into L&D coursework and make it accessible to all employees of the organisation, whether by live presentation or Webinar.
  • Make L&D an organisational priority: one of the most frequently mentioned factors in new hires accepting an offer is the opportunity for professional development. This benefit is a significant factor in long-term employee retention. As such, make L&D an organisational priority providing an adequate budget, resources and support. In terms of resources, consider whether it will be more cost-effective to facilitate in-house training and workshops or will be a better strategic decision to utilise vendors, thereby freeing up the time of internal L&D staff to work on other initiatives.
  • Conduct internal needs assessments: to derive the most benefit from L&D programs, conduct an internal review of what employees require from your L&D strategy. This helps to foster buy-in by making them part of learning and development program development. To take the example above of re-branding, consult the marketing team for their expertise regarding strategy but also post to the company Slack or intranet asking for employee input across the organisation.

Looking for a better way to track employee learning and development and measure your training investment? Take a look at intelliHR’s learning and development tools and analytics.

4. Compensation and benefits

Fair and equitable compensation is a critical factor in attracting and retaining top talent. While compensation is a key to offer negotiation and retention, it must be balanced with line budgets and profit margins of the company.

The HRM team should monitor pay increases and set standards based on compensation analysis both within the sector and across geographic locations.

Primary vs secondary compensation

Compensation is comprised of primary and nonprimary compensation.

  • Primary compensation is money paid for work (salary and bonuses).
  • Secondary benefits are all non-monetary compensation and benefits such as pensions, laptops, cell phones, flex-time, and perks such as extra holidays or daycare. The goal is to reward employees in a way that will motivate them to stay.

HR checklist actions:

We recommend conducting routine salary audits (i.e. every year) and adjusting the salary bands to be competitive within profit margins. Here are the things you’ll need to consider:

  • Experience and education level the more experience and education level a candidate has, the greater their compensation requirement will be. If you’re looking for candidates with a masters level education or 10+ years’ work experience in a high cost of living city, be prepared to compensate accordingly.
  • Industry: candidates with the same skill set and job title can earn vastly different salaries based on their industry. For example, a product manager for a software startup may earn a much higher income than a product manager for a renewable energy company.
  • Geography: cost of living (primarily housing costs) is a significant factor when deciding on compensation. This is generally the reason why salaries in high tech urban areas far outweigh the salaries for the same position in more rural areas.
  • In-demand skills: when it comes to determining compensation, skill set may be a more important factor than job title. Many companies have different titles for roles that require basically the same skill set. In our example above, a Product Manager in one company may be called a Business Analyst in another. It’s important for recruiters and hiring managers to consider the value of the skills required for the role when deciding on compensation.

RELATED: How to tailor your employee reward and recognition program for retention

5. Succession planning

Succession planning is the process of developing contingencies in the event an employee resigns or retires from the company. For example, if a senior manager leaves, having a ready replacement ensures continuity and saves both real and opportunity costs.

Succession planning is frequently based on talent pipeline and performance reviews. Building and nurturing the talent pipeline and developing leadership skills in all employees is an important task for both managers and human resources staff. This can take the form of learning and development opportunities or mentorship by a senior leader and exposure to different company departments.

HR checklist actions:

  • Focus on internal candidates: not only will the company boost overall employee morale by promoting an internal candidate, but promotions also save the company significant money. Candidates brought in from the outside may be giving up equity and bonuses which will become part of the negotiation. Internal candidates typically won’t require the same increase in compensation, nor will there be as steep a learning curve and time to reach peak performance, as you can see on the employee lifecycle curve below.
  • Develop multiple candidates: a company should develop multiple internal candidates at lower levels so there is a quality choice when the time comes to replace a senior leader. If you limit potential replacement to one person and that person is not up to the job, the company will then have to either spend time developing an alternate internal candidate or hire externally.
  • Retention concerns: while grooming multiple candidates is good practice, only one candidate will obtain the position which can leave the others feeling embittered. Ensure that there are other developmental pathways and rewards unless the company is willing to risk losing these valuable employees.
  • Focus on diversity: if your company wishes to have a diverse leadership team, consider this during succession planning. Select employees who represent different backgrounds in terms of ethnicity, race, culture, etc. The focus on diversity should go as far back as intimal recruitment efforts when bringing in new hires from outside the organisation. In this way, a pipeline of diversity is established. Don’t forget that diversity and inclusion isn’t just about hiring diversity, but inclusion too.

6. HR Software / Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS)

Human Resource Information Systems are tools that carry out HR programs and activities more efficiently. An HRIS supports all HR functions we discussed above. For example, Performance Management Tools can help evaluate and support employee performance, and a Learning Management System (LMS) helps monitor employee goals and records performance scores and ratings.

HR checklist actions: Consider the following when choosing an HRIS (and try to avoid these 3 mistakes!).

  • Staff size: an HRIS can make the end-to-end management of a large workforce easier by eliminating the need for long strings of email and tracking across a number of spreadsheets. For a smaller firm, the benefits of an HRIS are the same but perhaps you won’t need the same scope of functionality. There’s also the option to pay for only those parts of the HRIS your organisation needs, such as an ATS, background checking software or an LMS.
  • Reporting and analytics: an HRIS platform can be used to generate reports for analyzing areas like compensation bands and remuneration trends, employee turnover and attrition, diversity of employees, training history and investment per employee, and performance metrics.
intelliHR attrition analysis report
Model your attrition over time and filter down on specifics like tenure, pay grade and gender.
  • Learning and development: it’s important to formalise and track staff training during staff onboarding and as part of ongoing professional development. HRIS platforms like intelliHR can schedule, deliver and monitor each employee’s progress through compliance or skills training. The system can issue alerts and reminders for any uncompleted training and generate reports for managers.
  • Employee information: most of today’s HRIS platforms give employees and managers access to their HR information. This self-service feature allows employees to update personal information, download pay slips and complete timesheets without the need to call HR.
Full User Profile
intelliHR’s self service employee profile is the source of truth for employee records and information.

7. Diversity and inclusion

Diversity is any factor that can be used to differentiate people and groups.

A culture of diversity in the workplace is about empowering employees by valuing what makes them different, whether that be age, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, gender or national origin.

Inclusion means fostering a culture that nurtures these differences in a psychologically safe and supportive environment. Inclusion moves beyond tolerance to ensure that employees truly value difference by embracing and celebrating the enrichment that diversity brings to the entire organisation and the community in which it operates.

HR checklist actions:

  • Recruit for diversity: to foster a diverse workforce, certain aspects of the hiring process should be standardised. This can mean creating gender-neutral job descriptions, offering hiring managers blind review of resumes where the name and address of the candidate are omitted. In terms of interviewing, asking the same questions, in the same order, of all candidates helps reduce bias.
  • Consider “culture add” rather than “culture fit”: culture fit describes how well an employee fits into the existing organisational mores but can result in a biased and homogeneous workplace. In contrast, “culture add” is a philosophy that embraces and celebrates employees from diverse backgrounds. This focus leads to more innovative and creative teams as employees from different groups can lend unique perspectives to problem solving.
  • Develop high potential diverse candidates: ensure there is support from leadership to providing mentoring, coaching and support of high performing employees from diverse groups who may fall short on some of the requisite skills or consider promoting those employees into a more challenging role as preparation for future growth.
  • Develop employee resource groups: creating employee resource groups (ERGs) is a highly effective approach to building a more inclusive workplace environment and addresses diversity and inclusion in a community-based manner. The primary purpose of ERGs is to provide a forum for employees from similar backgrounds (e.g., Latino, Asian, LGBTIQA+, etc.) who share common interests or concerns to meet and address those issues. Employee resource groups can also be a great method of recruiting a diverse talent pipeline as members have their own circles of influence to which they can reach out to discuss the benefits of working for the company. Members can also impact the D&I initiative in the areas of employee retention, leadership development. marketing and sales, as well as customer relations.


The seven basic functions of HR in this HR checklist are not mutually exclusive but interact and affect each other. Think of the seven core processes of HR as links in a chain – strong management of each element contributes to the strength of the hiring process and employee experience as a whole. Collectively, these HR components enable employees across an organisation to reach optimum performance while also establishing a culture of diversity recognition, reward and transparency.


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