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The 20 Best Free Online Courses in Human Resources

The 20 Best Free Online Courses in Human Resources

“The conventional definition of management is getting work done through people, but real management is developing people through work.”– Agha Hasan Abedi

It’s all in the name with Human Resources. In an industrialized civilization, we have been prone to look at our workers like cogs in a machine, rather complex individuals who have uniquely human assets to “bring to the table.” In the modern world, we’re seeing how that approach has adverse effects- namely, unhappiness in the workplace, low performance, and even insubordination. In today’s world, an employee works for more than just money but other badges of honor like respect, pride, and fulfillment. You don’t need a PhD in psychology to understand the 21st century worker, you just need a few tools under your belt and maybe a fresh approach to cultivating an empowering work culture.

In these free online human resources courses you’ll learn the ins and outs of the entire recruitment cycle- from recruitment to making an offer. You will figure out exactly what motivates your team- yes some of what motivates your team is money, but also, you’ll learn about other intrinsic and external forms of motivation that encourage greater productivity in the workplace. As an HRM, you’ll need to gain an understanding of what is permissible by law, and also gain some insights into how you can personalize your approach and design a plan to ensure that you present fair employment packages to help you lock down the right person for the right job. We organized this group of courses by theme including: general human resource courses, analytics, compensation, engagement, hiring and training, performance, and wellbeing.

In compiling our list we scoured the internet for all free online courses in human resources. We then divided them up by category — seeking to provide a range of courses across a wide number of subject areas. Finally, we looked at class attendance as well as reviews to provide the highest quality free courses in HR out there. Enjoy!

General Human Resources Courses

1.) Preparing to Manage Human Resources

In this four-week course you’ll learn about alternative routes towards providing high-quality customer service, what motivates your team, and ways to analyze the laws of human resources as well as how to apply them in a way that makes sense for your group. The course materials are presented through videos, readings, and quizzes. In the first week you’ll examine alternative ways to manage a team, understand why management is valuable, and practice creating strategies to manage teams in a wide-variety of scenarios. Week two focuses entirely on money and how money can be and is a powerful primary motivator for your team. Though money is not the only motivator, and week three focuses on non-monetary motivators or basically everything else that motivates an individual to work. In the third week, you’ll dig deep into the psychology of work, as well as societal pressures and how those motivate employees. The course closes with a deep analysis of human resources and the law- going beyond what is “good practice” to “best practice.” You’ll learn how to work within the confines of contract, and even when to make negotiations outside of one. This course is a fantastic choice for any individual who is looking to not only gain a baseline knowledge of human resources, but also for individuals who are looking to “design” their own human resources approach.

  • Professor: John W. Budd
  • Affiliate: University of Minnesota
  • Length: 4 weeks
  • Homepage

2.) Managing Social and Human Capital

This is a comprehensive human resources course that examines everything from intrinsic motivation and behavioral modifications tactics to social change in the workplace. In the first week you’ll examine motivation and reward. This is certainly based on B.F. Skinner’s principles of behavior science. However, this course goes further and examines the psychology of imitation and compliance. Ultimately, you’ll learn how to motivate and evaluate your team. Week two focuses a little more on the history of job design- how major companies created protocol to increase productivity and work performance. This module lays the foundations for organizational architecture which comes in the 4th week, and will give you valuable insights on a variety of ways to encourage your team members to be better producers in a way that is motivating and respectful. The third week of the course focuses more on you the manager. You’ll learn how to make cost-effective decision, quick decisions, as well as how to implement protocol that will build a high-performing team. The final module centers its focus on social justice and how one can build a more just environment within an organization. If you are looking for effective tools that lead to a happier and more productive work environment, this course is a great option.

  • Professor: Michael Useem, Peter Cappelli
  • Affiliate: University of Pennsylvania
  • Length: 4 weeks
  • Homepage

3.) Introduction to Human Resource Management

This hour and 15 minute course is a great overview designed for managers who are looking to expand their knowledge of human resources. Taught across 17 mini-lectures, students walk away with a general understanding of the a wide-range of human resource topics including performance management, human resource planning, global human resource management, and more. Your first two mini lectures discuss human resources in general. From there you’ll learn to pinpoint that which encompases human resources. The lecture progresses to include human resource management, general skills required for HR professionals, ways to motivate a team, and the laws related to contractor management. The course is delivered through audio lectures and a powerpoint presentation. Management study guide offers “attractive, application focuses learning methodology which reduces learning resistance and enables quick absorption of knowledge and skills.”

  • Creator: Management Study Guide
  • Affiliate: Udemy
  • Length: 1 hour 13 minutes
  • Homepage

4.) Human Resources Fundamentals

Human Resources (HR) Fundamentals is a five-week comprehensive course designed for individuals looking to use better human resources practices in the workplace. Whether already employed or seeking employment in HR, this course is for you. You will learn how to employ HR skills, and gain insights on how HR helps companies to achieve their business goals. This online course covers the following topics: Why HR Matters, HR Professionalism in Practice, Enabling and Organization’s Strategy Through HR, Workforce planning, recruitment and retention, and Workforce Engagement and Managing Performance. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development not only offers training for HR professional but accreditation as well. If you need to increase worker productivity, describe the importance of HR, and apply best-practice HR skills in the process of recruitment and retention, this is the course for you.

  • Professor: Sarah Davis, David D’Souza, Steve George, Stuart Haden, & Warren Howlett
  • Affiliate: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)
  • Length: On-going/ self-paced
  • Homepage

5.) Diploma in Human Resources Management

The Diploma in Human Resources Management is a great online course for anyone who is looking for a full overview of the human resources field. The course is self-paced and requires about 10-15 hours of time for completion, and is a total of 16 modules. In the first module you’ll learn about the role of the HR manager. The second module focuses more on HR consultant and their role within a company. From there students of this course engage with Taylorism, or how to break tasks into small and manageable parts. This ends the first segment on Human Resources Management. Each segment culminates with a small assessment. Module five begins the second segment of the program: “Recruitment Selection and Appraisal.” In this segment you’ll learn about selecting a candidate, the interview process, and how to train an employee followed with an assessment. The third section is short and does not require an assessment focusing entirely on business culture and ethics. You’ll round of your studies with a segment on “Managing Employees and Change” with a focus on what motivates employees, building rapport and managing change in the workplace. You guessed it, you finish this online course with a final assessment and a diploma in human resources.

  • Professor: Presented through Alison Courses
  • Affiliate: Alison Courses
  • Length:10-15 hours or 4-5 weeks/ self-paced
  • Homepage

6.) Fundamentals in Human Resources

Fundamentals in Human Resources is an online course that gives a brief overview of Human Resources principles. You will learn about the responsibilities of a human resources professional, how to analyze a job, the best tactics for recruiting and selecting the right candidates and more. There is a good amount of focus on managing change in the workplace including legislative change, technological change, and work conditions. Not only that, but learn the dos and don’t related to employee relations. This fundamentals course will take about 2 hours to complete and the perfect addition to CVs and resumes. If you are looking for a fresh perspective on HR or simply have to jump into this role quickly, this is a great course to help you jump-start your career.

  • Professor: Not listed
  • Affiliate: Alison Courses
  • Length: 1-2 hours
  • Homepage

7.) International and Strategic Human Resource Management

If you are looking to enter into the field of human resource management or if you are working in a company that is shifting towards an international approach, this is the course for you. This 7-week online course will take about 2-3 hours to complete and is divided into two main segments: International Human Resource Management, and Strategic Human Resource Management. For the International Human Resource Management segment you’ll start with an introduction to the topic, learn about global employment law and international ethics, and finish with specific challenges related to international human resources management. The second segment is called Strategic Human Resources Management which discusses in detail ways to use sustainable practices in HRM , as well as how to engage with HRM in an interconnected world.

  • Professor: Not Listed
  • Affiliate: Alison/ XSIQ
  • Length: 2-3 hours
  • Homepage

8.) Diploma in Modern Human Resource Management

The Diploma in Modern Human Resources is a course for individuals in HRM looking to update their knowledge of MHR or even for supervisors and anyone who may need to step into a HRM role. This 15-module course requires about 10-15 hours to complete and culminates with an assessment. The curriculum is divided into two segments: recruiting employees, and managing employees. The recruitment section includes a general introduction course called “The Role of HRM” where you’ll learn about the required skills as well as the challenges that face those who step into this position. In the section module you’ll learn how to create a plan of action. Before jumping into recruitment, students learn about multiculturalism for the workplace including “multiculturalism and the law”. From there you will learn about how to recruit, interview, and also how to create competitive compensation packaging. This segment culminates with an exam. The remaining modules focus on how to manage employees. You will learn how to communicate effectively, train, management employees, and assess employees. If you are looking for greater insight into current expectations for HRM, take this course.

  • Professor: Not Listed
  • Affiliate: Saylor Foundation/ Alison
  • Length: 10-15 hours
  • Homepage

9.) Introduction to Modern Human Resource Management

The Introduction to Modern Human Resources is a course for individuals in HRM looking to explore human resources and how it related to work condition in the 21st century workplace. This 15-module course requires approximately 10-15 hours to complete and culminates with an assessment. The curriculum is divided into two segments: recruiting employees, and managing employees. The recruitment section includes a general introduction course called “The Role of HRM” where you’ll learn about the required skills as well as the challenges that face those who step into this position. In the section module you’ll learn how to create strategic plan tailored to match your work environment. Before jumping into recruitment, students learn about diversity for the workplace including “multiculturalism and the law”. From there you will learn about how to recruit, interview, and gain deeper insights into different types of pay systems, and methods for developing compensation and benefits packages. The remaining modules examin how to manage employees. You will learn how to communicate effectively, train, management employees, and assess employees. Not only that, but this segment includes a psychological component where you’ll learn how to motivate your employee to stay and further examine the “cost of turnover” while analyzing strategies to help you keep your employees happy. If you are looking for greater insight into current expectations for HRM, take this course.

  • Professor: Not Listed
  • Affiliate: Saylor Foundation
  • Length: 10-15 hours
  • Homepage

Analytics

10.) People Analytics

This online course is course number 3 of 5 of the Business Analytics Specialization. People Analytics focuses on strategies to recruit and retain quality employees in the workplace. Each course is interactive and provides videos quizzes and projects. The Wharton School recommends that you set aside 1-2 hours each week to complete materials. The first week focuses on performance evaluation and how that can have positive or punishing affect on employees. You’ll analyze the four main methods for measuring performance including: regression to the mean, sample size, signal independence and progress vs. outcome. The second week examines the staffing cycles from recruitment to attrition. You’ll learn how to match the right person to the right job. Week three focuses on an often overlooked element of HR-collaboration. By the end of this module you’ll learn how to cultivate a truly productive and effective team. The final week focuses on data and specifically how you can analyze data to determine employee promotion. This module also examines the four major challenges of talent analytics: context, interdependence, self-fulfilling prophecies, and reverse causality. If you are looking to “dig deep” into people analytics, this is a great course.

  • Professor: Cade Massey, Martine Haas, Matthew Bidwell
  • Affiliate: The Wharton School
  • Length: 4 weeks
  • Homepage

Compensation

11.) Managing Employee Compensation

If you are wondering: what should I pay employees? This is the course for you. You will learn what type of individual to attract for the job, how to motivate that individual, and how to keep that “perfect fit” in the position. You will also focus on the the technical skills related to compensation including: health insurance, compliance, understanding stock options, and designing incentive plans. In the first week of this online course you will learn how to design a pay compensation strategy. This module includes 12 videos and 2 quizzes. The second week examines “raises and promotions” and more specifically how you can analyze performance and translate that to a meaningful raise or incentive for your staff. Week three digs deeper into benefits and pay compliance. The final week touches on non-monetary rewards or any rewards not related to money. You’ll learn about what is valuable to employees as well as employers how to reward staff with the three most common non-monetary rewards, and design a program. This course culminates with a practical quiz.

  • Professor: Alan Benson, Mike Davis
  • Affiliate: University of Minnesota
  • Length: 4 weeks
  • Homepage

Engagement

12.) Creating Meaning for Employees

If you are looking for ways to revitalize your workplace, ethos, this is the course for you . In Creating Meaning For Employees you will learn how to promote a positive work environment that will ultimately lead to better business outcomes. Your lecturer, Janet Fraser shows you how to align with your staff and “promote a business culture that employees can buy into.” This online course is divided into two core components: Creating Meaning for Employees and a course assessment. In the first component you will learn how to: choose partners, cope with failure, protect the business culture, create meaning for employees, make decisions, align with people and a manage a technology-driven company. This course culminates with an assessment.

  • Professor: Janet Fraser
  • Affiliate: Adaptive Path via Alison
  • Length: 1-2 hours
  • Homepage

Hiring and Training

13.) Modern Human Resource Management: Training and Induction

If you are looking for a brief course that covers a lot of ground related to Modern Human Resource Management this is a great option. You will learn about the different types of management and communication strategies and styes that communicate effectively to employees. Additionally this course will show you how to interpret and evaluate employees using “emotional intelligence” as well as both verbal and non-verbal methods for active listening. This online course is divided into two main sections: retention and motivation as well as assessment. The first component covers the costs of turnover, how to create plans that retain your valued staff, as well as ways to implement those plants. This course culminates with a training and induction assessment. Students generally complete this free online course in 1-2 hours.

  • Professor: Not Listed
  • Affiliate: Saylor Foundation via Alison
  • Length: 1-2 hours
  • Homepage

14.) Modern Human Resource Management: Recruitment and Selection Processes

If you have found yourself suddenly in the HRM role at your place of work, you’ll want to take this course on recruitment and selection. Or maybe you’ve been in HR for some time and are looking for a fresh approach to recruitment and selection, this course is for you as well. T his course divides into four distinct modules. In the first module, introduction to recruitment you’ll learn not only how to recruit but also gain in depth insights into the laws of recruitment as well as recruitment strategies. The second module is called interviewing and selection where you’ll the ins and outs of the selection process, as well as criteria for development and the correct way to review a resume, how to interview, selecting a candidate, and finally making an offer. The third module, compensation and benefits is further divided into the following sections: goals of compensation planning, developing a compensation package, types of pay system, and other forms of compensation. This online course in human resource management culminated with an assessment.

  • Professor: Not Listed
  • Affiliate: Saylor Foundation via Alison
  • Length: 2-3 hours
  • Homepage

Employee Performance

15.) Managing Employee Performance

If you need a better understanding of how to get the best out of your team, this course is for you. Taught by senior lecturer Larry Bourgerie of the Carson School of Management, this online program isolates specific practices for increasing productivity, and creating a positive work culture. It’s divided into the following four modules: Developing Performance Management Systems, Implementing Performance Management Systems, Tools for Effective Performance Management, and Creating a Positive Performance Culture. The first module looks at culture and performance management from a global perspective, links management to financial outcomes, discusses the differences between performance management and performance review, as well as examines the impact of performance management on internal and externally. The second week examines a variety of performance management approaches including the comparative methods approach, absolute methods approach, and results methods approach. You’ll also learn how to measure the results and the behaviors of your team. In the third module you’ll learn about the importance of evaluation and feedback and unpack methods for giving feedback effectively as well as analyze best practices to mitigate legal exposure. The final module creating a positive performance culture truly explains the high values and outcomes that come as a consequent result of positive work environments. You’ll learn about civility, the roles of the culture in your organization or company, and how to define those terms.

  • Professor: Larry Bourgerie
  • Affiliate: The University of Minnesota via corsea
  • Length: 4 weeks for 3-5 hours per week
  • Homepage

16.) Human Resource Management: Discipline in Organizations

This is a no-nonsense course that focuses on the nitty gritty: disciplining staff in an organization. If you are in charge and need to rethink how to take action with regards to discipline in the workplace, this online course is for you. The course is divided into four main segments: discipline within organizations, dealing with difficult employees, using HRM to prevent the need for discipline, and course assessment. In the first module you’ll learn about “just cause” and why disciplinary actions are necessary. Next up you’ll learn some key strategies for dealing with difficult employees including how to handle insubordination and bullying in the work environment. The final taught module discusses HMR-specific tactics used to prevent disciplinary actions to begin with including human resource planning, performance appraisal, matching the right candidate to the right job and compensation.

  • Professor: Not Listed
  • Affiliate: Advanced Learning via Alison
  • Length: 1-2 hours
  • Homepage

17.) Modern Human Resources Management: Appraisal and Performance

Whether you are looking to take on an HR role as a career or are already employed in HR and simply looking to modernize your knowledge of appraisal and performance procedures, this course is for you. This online course in modern human resources management is divided into three main modules: managing employee performance, employee assessment, and safety and health at work. The first module looks both at handling performance and employee rights. The second course includes employee assessment procedures, performance evaluation systems, appraisal methodology, and ways for completing and conducting appraisal. In Safety and Health at Work you will learn about safety and health laws, and the various health hazards found at work. The final module is an assessment.

  • Professor: Not Listed
  • Affiliate: Saylor Foundation via Alison
  • Length: 2-3 hours
  • Homepage

Wellbeing

18.) Modern Empowerment in the Workplace

In an era where many more individuals can work anywhere and at anytime, positive change, and empowerment in the workplace are perhaps more achievable than ever before. If you want to make a positive impact in the workplace through human resources, this is the course for you. This course covers the changing context of employee empowerment, problems that arise from an imbalance of power and how to solve them, analyzes the effects of technology and globalization on employee relationships, and discusses how to engage with ethical issues surrounding change and empowerment in the workplace. Peter Bloom is the lecturer and head of the Department of People and Organizations at the Open University.

  • Professor: Peter Bloom
  • Affiliate: Open University via futurelearn
  • Length: 4 weeks
  • Homepage

19.) Social Wellbeing

After the great recession of 2007, in many parts of the world, individuals and organizations looked to redefine how we express meaning beyond monetary value and GDP. This program examines the importance of wellbeing in the workplace, the role wellbeing plays on the individual level and national level. You will learn about the main ways to think about wellbeing and the key components for personal wellbeing. Beyond that you’ll examine community vitality, and ways that organizations promote and facilitate wellbeing. Finally, Social Wellbeing asks the question: “What is national wellbeing and how can we measure and promote it?” Ultimately, this course will help you build morale, achieve better work outcomes, and use wellbeing criteria when evaluating policy and services. If you have a heart for positive change, and believe that a place of employment is more than just a place to collect a paycheck, this hands down the course for you.

  • Professor: Neil Thin, Elke Heins, and Jan Eichhorn
  • Affiliate: University of Edinburgh via futurelearn
  • Length: 3 weeks
  • Homepage

20.) Managing People: Engaging Your Workforce

This online course is appropriate for an individual who currently has or will soon have a position as a manager in the workforce. If you really want to “get the most out of your employees” you’ll want to pair individuals to the right job, ensure that the work environment is energized with positive creativity, and encourage collaboration. You will learn how to reflect on your practice and encourage your team to reflect on their own. If you face challenges, this course helps you confront those challenges and equips you with tools and techniques for tackling those challenges in a positive and productive way. The Henley Business School is a triple accredited, world-renowned school that offers myriad of business education programs for both undergraduate and graduate students.

  • Professor:Patrizia Kokot, Martin Bicknell
  • Affiliate: University of Reading Henley Business School
  • Length: 10 weeks
  • Homepage