That's a fairly in-depth question for our limited space, so let me get you started with a general outline of ideas. Human Resources focuses on dealing with the personnel and personnel management of a company, and this in and of itself covers a lot of ground. Some say this is what makes HR so interesting, in that they get to do a lot of different kinds of work.
Some roles of HR to consider:
1) Hiring Procedures and Practices - assembling hiring teams, monitoring the following of legal and company policies when it comes to hiring and firing.
2) Behavior Management - Monitoring and enforcement of company policy as it pertains to employee conduct or relations
3) Training and Development - Conducting training sessions for personnel to make them aware of company policies and procedures on topics ranging from sexual harassment to gender and racial equity, to the appropriate use of business email, cell phones etc.
4) Exit Interviews - for retiring or resigning personnel in order to gain a critical assessment of the company's HR and workplace practices
5) Benefits, wages and retirement management - HR is usually where you go when signing up for benefits or placement on a salary schedule, etc.
I am not sure if there is a well recognised or widely accepted traditional list of five activities that cover the entire work of a HR department. However, I have formulated a list given below, that covers all the activities of a HR department fairly well.
- Formulation of HR policies and practices. Among others this will include things like emoluments, promotion, transfer, discipline, and training. This will include advising and assisting the management in industrial relations work including negotiations with labour unions.
- Recruitment and separation of personnel. This work has some overlaps with the work of taking decisions on transfer and promotion of people. Usually designing of the Organization structure is a top management function, for which HR department may provide major support and information and advice. The work of manpower planning is also a part of this activity.
- Wage and salary administration. This includes, among others, keeping record of attendance, and leave. Usually this also involves providing support for formal performance evaluation, which forms the basis for decisions like incentive payment, increments, promotions and transfers.
- Handling of disciplinary cases, that need intervention of persons other than direct supervisors. This usually involves use of formal disciplinary procedures defined by law, agreements with trade unions, and company policies.
- Training of personnel. This can include organizing in-house training program as well as facilitating nomination of people for outside training programs.