Differences Between HRD & OD

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Corporate offices often employ both an HR and an OD team.
Corporate offices often employ both an HR and an OD team. (Image: office image by Christian De Grandmaison from Fotolia.com)

Human Resources and Operational Development are the two branches of most large companies concerned with the performance and satisfaction of the employees. The two groups are responsible for ensuring that their company is doing what it can to keep employees happy and motivated, while preserving the company’s success. As the two branches relate so closely in their goals and responsibilities, it is often difficult to distinguish what separates them.

Two Different Branches

Human Resources and Operational Development are usually two separate departments within a company, operating completely independently of each other. However, in some companies the two branches are combined into one, “Human Resources and Operational Development Department,” blending the responsibilities and eliminating any difference between the two.

Areas of Focus

HR focuses more on individual employee-oriented processes such as company policies and procedures, as well as ensuring that employees receive fair treatment and adequate rewards for their performance. OD is concerned more with a company’s performance as a whole. OD passes little legislation, and instead works to ensure that the company meets and keeps employees informed about long-term goals.

Short-term vs. Long-term

HR tends to focus on short-term aspects of company success such as recruiting, benefits and salary structure, while OD tends to work on long-term strategies for the success of the company like mission, vision and values. This difference in priorities can lead to situations where both branches will have ideas that directly contradict each other, causing friction and making it difficult for either branch to act.

Specific Instance of Conflict

Given the difference in outlook between the two branches, they can approach the same ideas from conflicting angles. For instance in considering holiday bonuses, the HR department may decide that employees need a morale booster and wish to award every worker a bonus at the end of the year. However, OD may review the company’s finances and find that giving a holiday bonus this year would delay the company’s ability to put out a new product, as bonuses would interfere with the company’s long-term goals.

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