Known in Human Resources as a “management guru” with great ideas for everything from company leadership to corporate growth, David Ulrich is first and foremost the father of modern HR. The author of numerous books about Human Resources and the role it plays in an organization, Ulrich is someone whose ideas continue to influence the way we think about HR. And since Human Resources is responsible for keeping employees happy, hard-working, and dialed-in to an organization’s long-term goals and objectives, Ulrich’s famed HR Model is a big part of virtually any company’s present or future success.

The model teaches fundamental practices that teach people how to be strategic and specific while being able to deliver effectively.

The David Ulrich HR Model

David Ulrich’s model for Human Resources was revolutionary when first introduced because it looked at people and roles first and foremost. Human Resources departments are important in organizations in part because of how they focus on the people in an organization—including employees, managers, board members, and more. Fittingly, David Ulrich’s HR Model doesn’t build a Human Resources department around function first, but rather around roles.

In particular, David Ulrich’s HR model defined the four roles listed below as the key components of an HR department. Read this extremely helpful slideshow presentation from the website Creative HRM if you want to learn more about Ulrich and his ideas.

HR Business Partner: The HR business partner is tasked with communicating with so-called “internal clients” or “internal customers.” (These are just fancy terms that refer to people directly connected with an organization, and include employees, shareholders, stakeholders, creditors, and more.)

The HR business partner is the HR point-of-contact for these individuals and is, therefore, the channel that most internal members of an organization will use to communicate with a Human Resources department. Among other things, the HR business partner gives feedback to internal customers about the quality of their experience, identifies top talents within the organization, helps fill job vacancies, shares HR goals with employees to ensure they are implemented across the organization, and helps promote overall productivity and harmony in the workplace.

The rundown: you’re the communicator. You get along well with people, you are good at organization, and you promote productivity.

Change Agent: When an organization is required to expand, evolve, or otherwise alter its goals or objectives, the change agent is the Human Resources role that communicates those organizational changes internally. This person or branch organizes training opportunities so employees can learn the new skills necessary for changing business goals or job roles, or changes job descriptions to reflect those altered roles. Essentially, the change agent helps adapt the organization for its next stage of growth or evolution.

The rundown – You’re the teacher. You help employees adjust to change in roles or job descriptions. You are a valuable asset when it comes to teaching new skills related to the job.

Administration Expert: This administration role within HR is responsible for numerous different types of tasks. On one end of the spectrum, the administration expert follows changes in legislation, regulation, occupational health and safety rules, and other types of labor or trade law and helps the organization adapt in order to stay compliant with those laws. On the other end of the spectrum, the administration expert is responsible for organizing personal employee information and making sure that it is up to date. This person uses an HRIS (Human Resources Information System) to monitor, update, and secure that information. In other words, the administration expert is the closest thing to a true “document management” specialist within Ulrich’s HR Model. By using an HRIS, the administration expert is key in helping an organization adopt modern, paperless policies for storing information, securing personnel files, sharing files within the organization, and more.

The rundown – you’re the front line, a strategic organizer in charge of managing anything and everything.

Employee Advocate/Employee Champion: At all times, any Human Resources department is responsible for staying aware of employee interests and making sure they are protected. The employee advocate (also known as the “employee champion”) is the role in charge of gauging employee morale and satisfaction and using that information to create a positive company where people will want to work. This person uses surveys to measure employee satisfaction, spot shortcomings in company culture, and ensure that managers are fair and equitable to all employees. The employee advocate also leads initiatives to improve morale and employee experience, helps the change agent with offering training and professional development opportunities, and ensures that existing employees have opportunities to apply for new jobs or promotions within the organization.

The rundown – you’re the analytics specialist who makes sure everything runs smoothly at every optimal level.

Document Management in Human Resources

While the administration expert is the only role in David Ulrich’s HR Model in which document management is mentioned explicitly, there can be no doubt that document management is a huge part of what allows any Human Resources branch to be successful. As you can see from reading the descriptions of each HR role above, Human Resources departments are responsible for a lot of different duties within an organization.

The rundown – you’re the planner who manages to be effective in document organization. This is a big job since a business relies on its documents, contracts, and licenses.

It’s also worth noting that the more time an employee spends with a company, the larger their HR personnel file grows. Indeed, the average personnel file contains 50 pages, ranging from pre-hiring documents (applications and resumes) to surveys, documents pertaining to professional development and ongoing training, and much more.

The best way to store and secure this information isn’t with a paper filing system, but rather with a paperless DMS. With features such as easy folder customization, full-text search, file encryption, role-based access permissions, document retention, and secure file sharing, lengthy personnel files can remain more secure and more manageable than they would ever be otherwise.

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