Essay On The Evolution Of Human Resource Management

Human Resource Management

Human Resource Management in its simplest definition means management of organization’s manpower or workforce or human resources.

Evolution of HRM

The evolution of the concept of Human Resource Management is presented below

Period before industrial revolution – The society was primarily an agriculture economy with limited production. Number of specialized crafts was limited and was usually carried out within a village or community with apprentices assisting the master craftsmen. Communication channel were limited.

Period of industrial revolution (1750 to 1850) – Industrial revolution marked the conversion of economy from agriculture based to industry based. Modernization and increased means if communication gave way to industrial setup. A department  was set up to look into workers wages, welfare and other related issues. This led to emergence of personnel management with the major task as

–          Worker’s wages and salaries

–          Worker’s record maintenance

–          Worker’s  housing facilities and health care

An important event in industrial revolution was growth of Labour Union (1790)  – The works working in the industries or factories were subjected to long working hours and very less wages. With growing unrest , workers across  the world started protest and this led to the establishment of Labour unions. To deal with labour issues at one end and management at the other Personnel Management department had to be  capable of politics and diplomacy , thus the industrial relation department emerged.

Post  Industrial revolution – The term Human resource Management saw a major evolution after 1850. Various studies were released and many experiments were conducted during this period which gave HRM altogether a new meaning and importance.

A brief overview of major theories release during this period is presented below

  • Frederick W. Taylor gave principles of scientific management (1857 o 1911) led to the evolution of scientific human resource management approach which was involved in

–          Worker’s training

–          Maintaining wage uniformity

–          Focus on attaining better productivity.

  • Hawthorne studies, conducted by Elton Mayo & Fritz Roethlisberger (1927 to 1940). – Observations and findings of Hawthrone experiment shifted the focus of Human resource from increasing worker’s productivity to increasing worker’s efficiency through greater work satisfaction.

As a result of these principles and studies , Human resource management became increasingly line management function , linked to core business operations. Some of the major activities of HR department are listed as-

  1. Recruitment and selection of skilled workforce.
  2. Motivation and employee benefits
  3. Training and development of workforce
  4. Performance related salaries and appraisals.

Strategic Human Resource Management Approach

With increase in technology and knowledge base industries and as a result of global competition , Human Resource Management is assuming more critical role today . Its major accomplishment is aligning individual goals and objectives with corporate goals and objectives. Strategic HRM focuses on actions that differentiate the organization from its competitors and aims to make long term impact on the success of organization.

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History Of Human Resource Management

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The History of Human Resource Management
Human resource management is the strategic and coherent approach to the management of an organization's most valued assets - the people working there who individually and collectively contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the business. The terms "human resource management" and "human resources" (HR) have largely replaced the term "personnel management" as a description of the processes involved in managing people in organizations. Human Resource management is evolving rapidly. Human resource management is both an academic theory and a business practice that addresses the theoretical and practical techniques of managing a workforce. (1)
Human resource management has it roots in the late and early 1900's. When workers jobs became less labor intense and more working with machinary. The scientific management movement began. This movement was started by Frederick Taylor when he wrote about it a book titled The Principles of Scientific Management. The book stated, "The principal object of management should be to secure the maximum prosperity for the employer, coupled with the maximum prosperity for each employee."(2) Taylor believed that management should use the techniques used by scientist to research and test work skills to improve the efficiency of the workforce.
Also around the same time came the industrial welfare movement. This was usually a voluntary effort by employers to improve the conditions in their factories. The effort also extended into the employees life outside of the work place. The employer would try to provide assistance to employees to purchase a home, medical care, or assistance for education.
The human relations movement is the major influence of the modern human resource management. The movement focused on how employees group behavior and how employee feelings. This movement was influenced by the Hawthorne Studies and the belief that employees worked better in a social system.
By the late 1800s, people problems were a very real concern in the workplace. For the average blue-collar worker, most jobs were low-paying, monotonous and unsafe. Some industries experienced difficulty recruiting and retaining employees because of the poor working conditions workers were exposed to. As the means of production continued to shift from farmlands and guilds to city factories, concerns grew about wages, safety, and child labor and 12-hour workdays. Workers began to band together in unions to protect their interests and improve living standards. Government stepped in to provide basic rights and protections for workers.

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The growth of organized labor soon followed. The first union the Knights of Labor formed in 1869. This union pushed for 8 hour work days (which we all enjoy today), the prohibition of child labor, and equal pay for men and women. Unions supported boycotts – not purchasing products from a producer it they were not participating in what the union wanted. The Knights of Labor switched their stance to striking when in the 1880's unemployment and wage cuts were widespread. This proved less effective the larger the union became because they could not control the members from unauthorized strikes and sabotaging the factories. The employers resorted to using strikebreakers, non union members willing to replace striking employees.
Violence became more prevalent in the late 1900's during strikes. The Molly Maguires became infamous for beatings and murders of employers. The turn of the century did nothing to curtail such violence. The Colorado Fuel and Iron Corporation strike of 1913 saw the use of militia. The militia fired machine guns into tents housing family members of the strikers then the company doused the tents with fuel and set them ablaze killing many.
The federal government had had enough. At first the government was not supportive of the labor movement. Then they tides turned and they started to enact laws in favor of labor. The Clayton Act, passed in 1914, allowed for picket lines and limited the use of court orders against workers and unions. The Wagner Act of 1935 addressed the need of labor to organize. The act permitted employees to choose their representation and allow them exclusive rights to bargain with the employers.
The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 enacted amendments prohibiting actions, or "unfair labor practices", on the part of unions to the NLRA, which had previously only prohibited "unfair labor practices" committed by employers. The Taft-Hartley Act prohibited jurisdictional strikes, secondary boycotts and picketing, closed shops, and monetary donations by unions to federal political campaigns. Union shops were heavily restricted, and states were allowed to pass "right-to-work laws" that outlawed union shops. Furthermore, the executive branch of the Federal government could obtain legal strikebreaking injunctions if an impending or current strike "imperiled the national health or safety," a test that has been interpreted broadly by the courts. (4)
At the turn of the 20th century companies began employing people to manage personnel. These first positions were called personnel specialists. Companies were encouraged to create this position when in 1920 a book was published by Tead and Metcalf called Personnel Administration. These positions also fell under different titles such as employment agents and labor department specialists.
Many companies also started to create entire departments to address employee relations. One such department, at U.S. Steel was called the Bureau of Safety, Sanitation, and Welfare. While at International Harvester the same was called the Department of Industrial Relations.
As the 1960s and 1970s unfolded, a more personable group of managers emerged, and their interests in people and feelings influenced all facets of business, including the growth of market research, communications and public relations. This group of managers emphasized the relationship between employers and employees, rather than scientific management. Programs to increase wages and fringe benefits continued to be developed. New studies linked greater productivity to management philosophies that encouraged worker ideas and initiatives. (5)
"The modern view of human resource management first gained prominence in 1981 with its introduction on the prestigious MBA course at Harvard Business School. Simultaneously, other interpretations were being developed in Michigan and New York." (6)
Modern human resource management continues to be infused with new studies and new laws requiring attention. These added requirements mean that the Human resource department is not just hiring and firing people. They have many reponsibilities. The first of which is to help the employer compete in the global economy. Many companies are multinational and require numerous other countries govermental laws to be understood.
The HRM staff must be very well versed in the Equal Employment Laws and other regulations. They must understand the Civil Rights Acts and the purpose of affimative action. They must ensure that their company is not breaking such laws by discriminating peoples of protected classes. They must support management from breaking the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 which protect employees over the age of 40. Newer Acts that human resource managers must be familiar with are the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.
Human resource managers also assist with other assignments in the company. They help managers to develop job descriptions and pay rates for these jobs. They help with the design of employee appraisels. They develop training programs to help improve employee moral as well as skills to help them succeed. Human resource managers are also planners. They ensure that the company has a consistant base of employees and helps predict future needs of the company in the way of manpower. They assist with the process of planned succesion. They want to make sure that someone will be able to take over a management position if the current holder retires or leaves the company.
As you can see, the human resource manager started with humble beginnings. First out of a need to make the work lives of employees better. Then to help management understand the needs of workers no longer in the fields but behind a machine. Finally, into the role we know and understand today. This field is constantly changing and who knows what tomorrow will bring.

2. Taylor, Frederick. The Principles of Scientific Management. 1911

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