The Historical Background Of Human Resource Management

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The term "human resource management" has been commonly used for about the last ten to fifteen years. Prior to that, the field was generally known as "personnel administration." The name change is not merely cosmetics. 

Personnel administration, which emerged as a clearly defined field by the 1920s (at least in the US), was largely concerned the technical aspects of hiring, evaluating, training, and compensating employees and was very much of "staff" function in most organizations. The field did not normally focus on the relationship of disparate employment practices on overall organizational performance or on the systematic relationships among such practices. The field also lacked a unifying paradigm.

HRM developed in response to the substantial increase in competitive pressures American business organizations began experiencing by the late 1970s as a result of such factors as globalization, deregulation, and rapid technological change. These pressures gave rise to an enhanced concern on the part of firms to engage in strategic planning--a process of anticipating future changes in the environment conditions (the nature as well as level of the market) and aligning the various components of the organization in such a way as to promote organizational effectiveness.

Human resource management (HRM), also called personnel management, consists of all the activities undertaken by an enterprise to ensure the effective utilization of employees toward the attainment of individual, group, and organizational goals.
An organization's HRM function focuses on the people side of management. It consists of practices that help the organization to deal effectively with its people during the various phases of the employment cycle, including pre-hire, staffing, and post-hire.The pre-hire phase involves planning practices. The organization must decide what types of job openings will exist in the upcoming period and determine the necessary qualifications for performing these jobs. During the hire phase, the organization selects its employees. Selection practices include recruiting applicants, assessing their qualifications, and ultimately selecting those who are deemed to be the most qualified.

It's believed that the first personnel management department began at the National Cash Register Co. in the early 1900s, according to an HR Magazine article. After several strikes and employee lockouts, NCR leader John H. Patterson organized a personnel department to handle grievances, discharges, and safety, as well as training for supervisors on new laws and practices

In the post-hire phase, the organization develops HRM practices for effectively managing people once they have "come through the door." These practices are designed to maximize the performance and satisfaction levels of employees by providing them with the necessary knowledge and skills to perform their jobs and by creating conditions that will energize, direct, and facilitate employees' efforts toward meeting the organization's objectives.

The Historical Background Of Human Resource Management

Human resource management has changed in name various times throughout history. The name change was mainly due to the change in social and economic activities throughout history.

Industrial Welfare
Industrial welfare was the first form of human resource management (HRM). In 1833 the factories act stated that there should be male factory inspectors. In 1878 legislation was passed to regulate the hours of work for children and women by having a 60 hour week. During this time trade unions started to be formed. In 1868 the 1st trade union conference was held. This was the start of collective bargaining. In 1913 the number of industrial welfare workers had grown so a conference organized by Seebohm Rowntree was held. The welfare workers association was formed later changed to Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Recruitment and Selection
It all started when Mary Wood was asked to start engaging girls during the 1st world war. In the 1st world war personnel development increased due to government initiatives to encourage the best use of people. In 1916 it became compulsory to have a welfare worker in explosive factories and was encouraged in munitions factories. A lot of work was done in this field by the army forces. The armed forces focused on how to test abilities and IQ along with other research in human factors at work. In 1921 the national institute of psychologists established and published results of studies on selection tests, interviewing techniques and training methods.

Acquisition of other Personnel Activities
During the 2nd world war the focus was on recruitment and selection and later on training; improving morale and motivation; discipline; health and safety; joint consultation and wage policies. This meant that a personnel department had to be established with trained staff.

Industrial Relations
Consultation between management and the workforce spread during the war. This meant that personnel departments became responsible for its organization and administration. Health and safety and the need for specialists became the focus. The need for specialists to deal with industrial relations was recognized so that the personnel manager became as spokesman for the organization when discussions where held with trade unions/shop stewards. In the 1970's industrial relations was very important. The heated climate during this period reinforced the importance of a specialist role in industrial relations negotiation. The personnel manager had the authority to negotiate deals about pay and other collective issues.

In the 1970's employment legislation increased and the personnel function took the role of the specialist advisor ensuring that managers do not violate the law and that cases did not end up in industrial tribunals.

Flexibility and Diversity
In the 1990's a major trend emerged where employers were seeking increasing flexible arrangements in the hours worked by employees due to an increase in number of part-time and temporary contracts and the invention of distance working. The workforce and patterns of work are becoming diverse in which traditional recruitment practices are useless. In the year 2000, growth in the use of internet meant a move to a 24/7 society. This created new jobs in e-commerce while jobs were lost in traditional areas like shops. This meant an increased potential for employees to work from home. Organizations need to think strategically about the issues these developments raise. HRM managers role will change as changes occur.

Information Technology Some systems where IT helps HRM are: Systems for e-recruitment; On-line short-listing of applicants; Developing training strategies on-line; Psychometric training; Payroll systems; Employment data; Recruitment administration; References; Pre-employment checks. IT helps HR managers offload routine tasks which will give them more time in solving complex tasks. IT also ensures that a greater amount of information is available to make decisions.

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