Business Guidance

The Evolution of Human Resources

The function of Human Resources has changed drastically over the past 10 years. Most people think HR is just hiring and firing, but having been in the HR arena for 25+ years, I can safely say it’s a lot more than that.

What is Human Resource Management (HRM)?

It is the process of managing employees in a company and it can involve recruitment, hiring, firing, training, performance management, benefits and motivating employees. The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) breaks it down to these 6 components:

  1. Business Management & Strategy
  2. Workplace Planning & Employment
  3. Human Resource Development
  4. Compensation & Benefits
  5. Employee & Labor Relations
  6. Risk Management

HR – Past, Present and Future 

In the past, HR was known for taking care of the employees; it was called the “Personnel Department.” The belief was that in order to retain a productive workforce you must take care of an employee’s concerns (which became Employee Relations). Back in the day, it was all about employee grievances, discharges and safety in the industrial companies. During this time, there weren’t any laws such as child labor, safety or skilled labor. Human Resources became official around the World War II era when leaders were expected to be responsible for managing the business and their workforce. Soon came the laws and regulations such as the Equal Pay Act, Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) aimed at protecting employees and holding employers responsible for being compliant.

Today, HR has come a long way. HR is more than keeping the workforce happy and healthy, it has earned a seat at the table with other C-level departments/officers. HR is considered a strategic partner within a company. HR professionals must have a clear picture of the organization’s business in order to provide value.

As our society and economy have changed, our businesses have changed and, therefore, the workforce. Technology has impacted our business and workforce a great deal. Even small companies are using a Human Resource Information System (HRIS). To date myself, I started my HR career using a Wang computer; I still remember that green screen and blinking cursor. And now? We can’t do any work without our new advanced technology.

More professionals are studying HR in college, obtaining a bachelors and master’s degree as well as HR certification. The HR arena has changed department names as well as professional titles. Today, the HR department has many names – Human Capital Department, People and Culture, and even Chief Happiness Department. Titles have also changed over the years – HR Manager, Business Partner, Human Capital Manager and Chief People Officer. Many companies chose different titles based on their business and culture. Despite your title or the name of your department, HR professionals must be a “change agents.”  We must have the ability to constantly adapt, be innovative in our strategy and constantly bring new ideas to the company in order to be competitive.

In the Future, the role of HR will be an even more valued business partner as HR professionals continue to align themselves with the changes and growth of our economy and society. Moving forward it will be critical for an HR professional to be savvy, have business acumen, financial management and a thorough knowledge of information systems. It will be imperative for HR to develop future leaders as well as a culture and branding that attracts talented employees. Some HR functions have already started to be outsourced to specialized companies and it appears it will continue that course for the next several years. Those in HR will need to be strategic thinkers rather than focused on administrative tasks.

HR will no longer be considered the “police” in an organization. Instead, HR professionals must be coaches, mentors and business leaders. From no seat at the table to a golden seat. HR professionals are the change agents shaping the new workforce of tomorrow. It is vital to business success to utilize skilled and knowledgeable HR professionals. To learn more about how Univest HR Consulting can help, please contact us at (877) 723-5571.