HR Best Practices: What They Are and How You Can Implement Them


Did you know that 69% of millennials would rather make $50k a year at a job they love, than $75k a year at a job that they think is boring?

On top of that, the cost to the US economy of a disengaged, dissatisfied employee can be up to $500 billion a year.

So how do you make sure that you provide an enjoyable position, one that addresses the needs of an employee at all levels, whilst also working with your company goals?

The answer is by adopting our HR best practices, which are detailed below.

At Process Street, we recognize the hr department as a kind of middle man between your business and your employee. By adopting our HR best practices, it ensures that a balance between your business and employee is obtained.

In this article, we will discuss the following:

At the end of this article, you will be presented with a set of free to use templates, to help you implement the best HR processes within your business today.

Ready to get started?

HR meaning: Understanding what hr is

HR stands for Human Resources. HR considers humans as a business resource, a resource that needs to be correctly managed and supported. As stated by Anne M. Mulcahy,

”Employees are a company’s greatest asset – they’re your competitive advantage. You want to attract and retain the best; provide them with encouragement, stimulus, and make them feel they are an integral part of a company’s mission” – Anne Mulcahy, BusinessWire

Delving into a little more detail, we can break down hr into seven main functions:

  1. Strategic management: The proactive planning of the future. This means meeting both short-term and long-term strategic objectives of the organization
  2. Workforce planning and employment (recruitment and selection): This involves recruitment, selection, orientation, and exit processes. The best candidates for a role are decided by the hr department
  3. Human resource development (training and development): Employees receive appropriate training. HR specialists will also assist with change and performance management needs of an organization
  4. Total rewards: A hr benefits team is responsible for the acquisition and administration of compensation and benefit packages
  5. Policy formulation: New hires and current employees are kept abreast of the policies and procedures of an organization
  6. Employee and labor relations: Employee relations teams align the employee’s needs and rights with the needs of the organization. For example, union and non-union issues are handled appropriately
  7. Risk management: The hr department identifies risk items that could pose a possible threat to the company. Safety training and information is provided by the department to mitigate against these risks

To really appreciate the importance of human resources, we can have a look into what business was like before the discipline came about.

HR: A brief history

What was life like before the emergence of human resources as a discipline?

I grew up in a UK town called Oldham, an industrial town, the remnants of which are reflected in its design. Tall cotton mill towers are the stains left behind from a once-lucrative cotton industry, that ripened in the 1800s. When I think of life before hr, I formulate the following mental picture:  A ten-year-old, scrunched under dangerous cotton-making machinery, fighting for breath in humid conditions, for 13 hours a day.

Oldham's cotton industry


During the 1800s, the concept that humans are a resource to be properly managed and supported had not yet sewed its way into society. The cotton industry was rife with on-the-job injuries and death. The poor working conditions significantly reduced employee life expectancy. Humans were clearly not treated as a company’s most important assets. As workers lay below the cotton-spinning machines, they probably knew that this represented their figurative place in the cotton business. Could this be what our working world looked like before the emergence of hr?


Although, workers’ rights did begin to emerge in the 1700s, with the rise of the first labor union. A union was created to support shorter working hours and higher pay for carpenters, cabinet makers, and cobblers. It is with the rise of unions, that an employee’s right to be treated fairly emerged, which is now supported by international law and country-specific human rights.

So when and where does hr come in?

We gain our first glimpse of an hr-like department in the 1900s. This hr department was termed a personnel management department. This department started at the National Cash Register Co back in the 1900s. John Henry Patterson was the owner and set up the department to deal with the following:

  • Employee grievances
  • Discharge and safety
  • Information to be relayed to supervisors

During this time, hr-like processes are described under the phrase personnel administration. Personnel administration focusses mainly on the aspects of hiring, evaluating and compensating employees. Here, we witness the development of a department acting as the middle man between unions and business.

However, this middle-man-like department is not quite fully developed. Employment relationships and organizational performance levels are not yet considered. Also, there is a lack of a unified paradigm in the field.

Moving into America, it is the 1970s and the business environment is undergoing rapid change. Companies are experiencing increased globalization, deregulation, and rapid technological change. Businesses are beginning to enhance their strategic planning, to predict future changes. The result? More jobs and opportunities are being developed to fulfill these new organizational goals. With this increasing number of opportunities came the development of a minor/major level of study in human resources.

Good HR practices and the benefits they can bring to your business

We can see how having a union in combination with an hr department has helped bring important and positive changes for the employee. But what benefits do good hr practices bring to a business?

I have detailed some widely recognized benefits of hr below:

  1. A higher rate of employee productivity: Research has shown that employees can perform at a much higher rate of productivity when supervisors and managers pay more attention to them.
  2. Maintains organizational culture: The culture of your business impacts every person within your company. The hr department ensures that all employees are well suited to the company’s culture. With a healthy company culture, you obtain employee retention, a good reputation, increased productivity and quality.
  3. Increases employee satisfaction: Effective hr management will support your employees, understand employee motivations, and ensure the best employee experience is being met.
  4. Training and development: Training needs of an employee are identified. Needs that fit in with your wider business strategy. Continual learning will mean that employees can keep their skills up to date and bring valuable and innovative ideas back to the company.

It must be noted, that the above benefits come with the implementation of good hr practices. The next question is, what makes an hr practice good?

To explore this question, I will use examples of some of the best HR practices being used today.

HR best practices: Companies with the best hr practice

”Just as bad people – practices sour employees on their employer, a great hr department can turn even the most difficult circumstance into an opportunity for a better workplace” – Workforce, 2008 Workforce 100: Ranking the World’s Top Companies for HR

To determine the best HR practices, I turn my attention to a study conducted by Workforce 2008. In this study, Workforce editors worked with researchers from the Human Capital Media Research and Advisory Group, the publication’s research arm. In this study, companies are scored on seven areas:

Companies are ranked higher if they are recognized across multiple core areas. Based on the results, the companies with the best hr departments are as below:

  1. Salesforce – performance index 9.575
  2. Delta Airlines – performance index 9.425
  3. Bain and Company – performance index 9.183
  4. Ultimate Software – performance index 9.182
  5. Facebook – performance index 9.06
  6. Accenture – performance index 9.008
  7. Deloitte – performance index 8.963
  8. Starbucks – performance index 8.936
  9. Google – performance index 8.877
  10. Adobe – performance index 8.783

The higher the performance index, the better the company’s hr practices were. To grasp a better understanding of what makes a good hr department, I have pulled out four examples from the list above. I will delve into the details of the hr practices used in these four companies.

Here goes…

Companies with the best HR practice: Adobe



To begin looking at the best hr practices, let’s take Adobe. Adobe has a performance rating of 8.783. This makes it the lowest-performing hr department of the top 10 detailed. However, we are comparing the best-with-the-best, and Adobe is certainly doing something right to even be in the top ten.

Adobe is an American multinational computer software company, headquartered in San Jorse, California. The company has consistently been voted in the top 10 companies to work for. One reason for this is the time and resources Adobe focuses on its hiring processes.

The company makes an effort to hire whilst maintaining a broad view of the whole company and not just individual teams. Time is invested in hiring the right candidate, ensuring a diverse interview panel for a balanced view. As stated by Sarah Dunn, head of people resources, APAC for Adobe:

”We also hire for Adobe as a whole, and not just for individual teams. We believe in investing time to hire the right candidate and ensure a diverse interview panel to attain a balanced view of the candidate’s suitability for the position and fit within the company” – Sarah Dunn, The 3 keys to successful talent management in Adobe

To hire the right candidate means that there are multiple rounds in Adobe’s hiring process. These rounds consist of aptitude tests, multiple technical rounds and a hr round. Hiring within Adobe takes time, which ultimately pays off in the long run, as the company filters to acquire the best talent.

Companies with the best HR practice: Google



Based in Mountain View, California, Google is the world’s most popular search engine. The company is well-known for its innovative breakthroughs and technological front. However, Google’s culture and human resource policies are also at the forefront of this tech giants’ reputation.

HR practices at Google are named ‘People Operations‘. This name change represents the inventive practices that come from this department. Google’s hr department strives to build strong employer-employee relationships.

This ”people operation” department is set up to use a combination of science and human resources. Google looks at everything from the perspective of data. That is, operating hr is treated as a field of science. Google doesn’t just go with the current practices that are known to work, they look for new, alternative ways to do things better. It is truly human resource innovation at its best.

Google collects and analyses data to evaluate how a novel or current hr practice benefits the employee. This is a continual process, meaning that Google’s hr department is constantly adapting and changing.

As Google sees it, to hire the best talent, they must focus on building a great working culture. So far, this includes:

  • Adopting a good working environment
  • Providing meaningful work
  • Promoting employee freedom

HR practices, for example, employee onboarding, act as the backbone to create Google’s strong workplace culture.

Companies with the best HR practice: Accenture



Headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, Accenture is a leading multinational, professional service company. Accenture is the first from the list above to obtain a successful hr practice index value that is into the 9s. What does Accenture do well?

Accenture’s hr focus is primarily on the re-invention of performance. Accenture asks the question: How many of you have hobbies you wish you could commit more time to?

You see, Accenture recognizes that when it comes to something you are passionate about, a sense of time is lost. The term work is hidden under the enjoyment you have for the activity.

Accenture focuses on passion.

As there is no silver-bullet solution that would spark passion in everyone – we are all different in terms of our skills and interests – Accenture concentrates its efforts on one employee at a time.

Each Accenture employee is given multiple strength assessment tests. The organization then aligns its priorities and goals with employee strengths and passions. Accenture continually collects feedback, to adapt its talent management processes even further.

Companies with the best HR practice: Salesforce

Sales force


Topping off the list above, with a performance index of 9.975, is Salesforce. Salesforce is a cloud computing service software (SaaS). The company specializes in customer relationship management (CRM). Being the top of its game in terms of its hr practices, I believe we can learn a thing or two from this SaaS business.

As generation Z takes a seat in our corporate world, their expectations are reinventing working life. With this new generation of workers, demand for greater work-life harmony is increasing. Generation Z looks to have meaningful work that makes a positive difference in society.

Salesforce is adaptive, changing its hr strategy to fulfill the needs of this new wave of employees. For example, Salesforce empowers more than 30,000 employees to become philanthropic citizens. The company founded the 1-1-1 model that gives the below to philanthropic causes and the non-profit sector:

  • 1% of Salesforce product
  • 1% of Salesforce equity
  • 1% of Salesforce employee time

Working for a company with such a philanthropic spirit boosts employee energy and excitement. Employees want to work for a company which such strong morals.

In addition to this, Salesforce provides flexibility and mobility to its employees. As the company grows, this flexibility needs to be ingrained into the company’s DNA. Employees are welcome to visit Salesforce offices around the world, to satisfy travel bugs and to network within a global arena.

Focusing on flexibility and meaningful work, Salesforce’s employee benefits are in tune with the needs of the coming generation of workers. This contributes to the company’s hr practices being the best.

HR best practices: Unique human resources

Adobe, Google, Accenture, and Salesforce invest a lot of time and resources into their hr practices. But what makes their practices so unique that they stand above all others?

We have seen how Adobe places focus on their hiring processes, to hire the best talent. Onboarding procedures are inclusive of all departments and adaptable to the needs of the entire organization.

Google views its hr practices as ever-adapting processes. Human resource innovation is applied to continually improve hr procedures. Workplace culture is a focal point of this evolution.

Accenture looks at its talent management procedures, and how passion can be sparked within employees. To do this, Accenture adapts employee roles to meet individual strengths and interests.

Finally, we looked at Salesforce. Salesforce provides flexible hr operations that are in tune with changing employee needs.

Each company scored well on every core hr process. But each company seemed to have a different area of primary focus. Studying the hr approaches of these companies, I was struck by one overlapping factor.

You would have noticed the bolded words in the above. These words represent this overlapping factor. The hr practices of these top companies are adaptable, flexible and evolutionary.

Could this be what makes the top hr practices so unique that they outperform most others?

How you can implement our HR best practices

Being adaptable means working without boundaries. Adaptability often exhibits an openness to new ideas and new concepts, finding diverse and unexpected solutions to challenges. Flexibility is the degree or the willingness to adapt to a situation. Adaptability and flexibility, therefore, often come hand-in-hand and give rise to evolution for gradual improvement.

Our businesses are operating in an era of great uncertainty. Globalization, new technologies, greater business transparency, and environmental issues all combine to upend the business world. This increase in uncertainty has been shown statistically. For example, the volatility of business operating margins has doubled since the 1980s. These margins were allegedly static in the 1950s. In addition, the gap between winning companies (ones with high operating margins) and ”losing” companies (ones with lower operating margins), has widened in recent years.

With uncertainty comes change and challenge. Businesses that thrive manage change appropriately, with big-picture thinking and continual self-assessment and improvement. Most importantly though, businesses that thrive are quick to act on signals and have learned how to adapt to unlock their greatest resource, employees.

Adopting the best hr practices will allow you to unlock your greatest resource. We have discovered 9 areas for best hr practices, which I have summarized below:

  1. Workplace culture
  2. Employee benefits
  3. Diversity and inclusion
  4. Employee development
  5. Talent management
  6. Human resources innovation
  7. Leadership development
  8. Talent acquisition

Most importantly though, we have found that adaptability and flexibility are essential for the evolution of the best hr practices.

According to Martin Reeves, coauthor of Your Strategy Needs a Strategy, we can break down a series of approaches to flexibility which you can use to achieve best practice in each of the above areas of hr:

  • The ability to read and act on signals: You need to act fast and knowing what signals should prompt change or action is vital.
  • The ability to experiment: You’ll rarely get things right the first time. Testing and tweaking through experimentation will give you much more robust systems in the long run.
  • The ability to manage complex multi-company systems: You need to think beyond working in your bubble and start building valuable connections with both customers and suppliers. You can all help each other.
  • The ability to mobilize: Utilize organizational structure to mean you can react to changes quickly and shift the focus of your teams in a flash.

As a top agile business process management software, you can use Process Street to help you with your hr processes while maintaining the ability to be flexible. Process Street provides you with easy and free to use templates, such as our Sales Interview Process With Questions template, and our Performance Review Template.

Each one of our hr templates has been built with the above top hr practices in mind. All you have to do is carry out the set of tasks.

Importantly, our templates are both flexible and adaptable. For example, you can use our conditional logic feature to modify each checklist to a specific circumstance. You can also easily hop into any template and edit it to suit your specific needs, which takes no time at all.

At Process Street we understand that business operations, including hr processes, have to adopt the concept of process flexibility. Luckily for you, we have dedicated a whole article which details what process flexibility is, and how you can make sure your hr processes are both flexible and adaptable.

Click here to access our Process Flexibility: 4 Key Approaches and How to Use Them

In this article, the below Company Research Checklist is taken and shown to incorporate flexibility and adaptability in its design. These factors then transcend to the business process being run, which in this case, is the process of company research.

Click here to access the Company Research Checklist.

Our templates have been designed to enhance efficiency, productivityprevent mistakes and failures and to help you adopt HR best practices. You will also find our templates have other additional features, making them superpowered:

Ready to create the best hr practices? Check our hr template resources below:

Use Process Street to Create the Best HR Processes Today

In this article, we have briefly looked at the history leading up to the development of hr as a practice. We have uncovered the meaning of hr and the benefits hr brings to employees and to business. We have looked at HR best practices, discussing those practices adopted by companies with the top HR processes. We identified the importance of adaptability and flexibility – as our own unique hr practice – in human resources. Finally, we provided you free to use templates so that you can create the best hr processes in your business today!

We’d love to hear about the HR practices you have in your business that have proven successful – please comment below! Who knows, you may even get featured in one of our upcoming articles!

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Jane Courtnell

Hi there, I am a Junior Content Writer at Process Street. I graduated in Biology, specializing in Environmental Science at Imperial College London. During my degree, I developed an enthusiasm for writing to communicate environmental issues. I continued my studies at Imperial College's Business School, and with this, my writing progressed looking at sustainability in a business sense. When I am not writing I enjoy being in the mountains, running and rock climbing. Follow me at @JaneCourtnell.


I found your article very informative and you had great use of facts throughout the article.Thanks for sharing this valuable information with us, it is really helpful article!

Brilliant article for someone who just started a career in HR without a major in HR and also for non-HR professionals to have a basic understanding on HR function. It would be great if you can share any presentation or any pdf doc. that includes a consolidated contents that you explained.

Hi, Thanks for this article. It was very useful and I was able to extract some key points. Also cited accordingly. 🙂

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