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 Human resources are the people who make up the workforce of an organization, business sector, or economy. "Human capital" is sometimes used synonymously with "human resources", although human capital typically refers to a more narrow view (i.e., the knowledge the individuals embody and economic growth). Likewise, other terms sometimes used include "manpower", "talent", "labour", "personnel", or simply "people".

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A human resources department (HR department) of a company performs human resource management, overseeing various aspects of employment, such as compliance with labour law and employment standards, administration of employee benefits, and some aspects of recruitment and dismissal.

From the corporate objective, employees have been traditionally viewed as assets to the enterprise, whose value is enhanced by further learning and development, referred to as human resource development.

In regard to how individuals respond to the changes in a labour market, the following must be understood:

  • Skills and qualifications: as industries move from manual to more managerial professions so does the need for more highly skilled staff. If the market is "tight" (i.e. not enough staff for the jobs), employers must compete for employees by offering financial rewards, community investment, etc.
  • Geographical spread: how far is the job from the individual? The distance to travel to work should be in line with remuneration, and the transportation and infrastructure of the area also influence who applies for a position.
  • Occupational structure: the norms and values of the different careers within an organization. Mahoney 1989 developed 3 different types of occupational structure, namely, craft (loyalty to the profession), organization career path (promotion through the firm) and unstructured (lower/unskilled workers who work when needed).
  • Generational difference: different age categories of employees have certain characteristics, for example, their behavior and their expectations of the organization.