What is human resource development?

Human Resource Development (HRD) is the process of improving an organisation's performance.  This is achieved through training and developing human expertise.

HRD involves change, and it involves people.  HRD practitioners are responsible for developing the abilities of both individual employees and the organisation in which they work.

HRD must be relevant to an organisation's mission, vision, objectives and strategies.

At the operational level, HRD makes sure that processes will function as designed and deliver the outcomes required:


At the level of individual employee, HRD makes sure that staff and work groups have the necessary managerial and technical competencies. Where necessary, training or other capacity building can improve competency, to enable a staff member to improve their performance.

Training needs analyses and human resource planning is also strategic (i.e. forward thinking), in order to ensure that the organisation has the right people with the right competencies. As training or cpacity building can take time, forward planning is critical for continuous improveemnt of the organisation and staff.  

Some training and development to improve performance in the workplace can also be achieved in minutes or hours without over-training employees.

Training Needs Analysis and Human Resource Planning:

  1. Identifies what competencies are necessary to carry out processes and functions, and at what standard of performance;
  2. Looks at the match between duties and tasks in job descriptions and the competencies required for a job (job specification)
  3. Identifies what additional competencies will improve performance and when required
  4. Identifies the correct level of competency to avoid over-skilling
  5. Carefully considers the costs of training to organisations (direct costs, lost productivity, substitute staffing etc.)
  6. Training needs analyses also requires strategic thinking about what competencies are necessary now and in the future
  7. Especially long-term education is a strategic decision; long term benefits should be clearly identified including how to retain people and use them effectively

Training & Development:

  1. Can be costly and time consuming so should be carried out wisely
  2. Is not the only answer to performance improvement and other options (such as re-designing the process or improving the incentives to employees) should also be considered.

An HRD Plan:

  1. Identifies what competencies are required
  2. Acknowledges what competencies exist
  3. Identifies any training / development needs which will improve performance
  4. Prioritises training so that the most important improvements are achieved when necessary
  5. Describes what performance improvement will result
  6. Shows how training or development will be conducted, including who, how long will it take etc.

The implementation of an HRD Plan can include:

  1. Management education
  2. New-employee orientation
  3. Professional education
  4. Technical & on-the-job training
  5. Customer-service training
  6. Public relations training
  7. Health-and-safety training
  8. Self-learning by employees, supported by the organisation
  9. Study tours, exchange visits or staff working in partner organisations for a period of time