What is a Personnel Group?

Carol Francois

Large organizations typically use personnel group as a way to define the different types of employees. The development of this term is closely related to the adoption of human resources information systems (HRIS), which have revolutionized the human resources business processes in a wide range of companies. A personnel group is used to meet three driving needs: create a method of identifying employees who have specific functions in common, allow for easier maintenance and testing, and track activity by group.

Large organizations typically use personnel group as a way to define the different types of employees.
Large organizations typically use personnel group as a way to define the different types of employees.

When defining a personnel group, the easiest way to do this is to review the organizational structure at a high level. Unionized groups are an easy place to start, as within a union group, all the employees will have specific employment conditions in common. This may include vacation entitlement, overtime calculation rules, union dues and seniority requirements.

The nomenclature used to define a personnel group varies, and depending on the HR software in place, there may be limitations on the number of characters. Typically, most organizations use the acronym for the union or the primary position description to identify the personnel groups. Although a number sequence can be used, it can quickly become very complex for human resources staff, data architects, and other people who need to manipulate the data.

Once the union groups are assigned a unique personnel group, the next stage is to define groups for the remaining employees. There are different methodologies used for this purpose, depending on the complexity of the organization. Look at the different positions or job descriptions and identify commonalities that cover multiple employees. These commonalities should be items that the firm will need to be able to create unique reports for. Executives at the vice president and higher level are often grouped together into one personnel group.

Avoid creating a personnel group by location or similar reporting structure. These commonalities are already identified through mailing address, location indicators, and job numbers or title. Instead, look one level higher, focusing on similar benefit plan eligibility or job tasks.

The personnel groups should be organized in a structure that mimics the actual organizational structure as closely as possible. The options should exist to allow reports to be run for different branches of the organizational structure, pulling multiple personnel groups together as required. Summary reports are typically programmed to use a hierarchy structure to meet these needs and can be built into reporting selection screens.

It is important to correctly identify the personnel groups, as any changes to the group commonalities can be changed once and applied to all employees in this group. For example, if all the unionized staff is eligible for an annual salary increase, then this change can be applied to the specific personnel group. This greatly simplifies programming, testing, and communication requirements.

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