The role of Human Resource Management (HRM) has transformed significantly over the centuries. In the 19th century, during the industrial revolution, HR professionals were known as welfare officers or welfare secretaries, primarily women tasked with safeguarding the rights of female workers and addressing the harshness of labor conditions.
Let us discover the historical milestones that shaped HRM into what it is today.
- 19th Century: During the 19th century, welfare officers, often women, played a crucial role in protecting the rights of women and girls in the workforce. Their responsibilities extended to mitigating the harsh conditions of labor prevalent during the industrial revolution.
- 20th Century: The First World War marked a turning point for HRM. The absence of men due to the war led to a substantial recruitment of women to fill workforce gaps. In the 1920s, roles like ‘Labour Manager’ or ‘Employment Manager’ emerged in industries with large factories. These managers were tasked with handling issues related to absence, recruitment, dismissal, and bonus inquiries. The Second World War further institutionalized welfare and personnel work, with establishments producing war materials mandating full-time HR roles. Government insistence, similar to the previous conflict, led to the inclusion of welfare workers in munitions factories.
Today’s HR Activities
In the contemporary HR landscape, a myriad of specialist disciplines ensures the smooth functioning of businesses. These include:
- Diversity and Employment Law: Addressing diversity issues and ensuring compliance with employment laws.
- Reward Management: Encompassing compensation, benefits, and pension management.
- Resourcing: Involving recruitment, disciplinary actions, and redundancy processes.
- Employee Relations: Managing performance, absence, and fostering positive employee relations.
- Organizational Development and Design: Shaping the structure and development of the organization.
- Learning and Development: Nurturing continuous learning and skill development among employees.
- Policy and Procedure Management: Ensuring adherence to correct systems, policies, and procedures.
These disciplines not only uphold best practices and legal standards but also contribute to the financial and operational success of businesses, maximizing the potential of their teams. The journey from welfare officers to today’s multifaceted HR roles reflects the evolution and growing importance of Human Resource Management in the corporate world.