During periods of change, there are functions that rapidly evolve in a company, both in terms of responsibilities as well as job titles. Human Resources must be the first line of defense to help facilitate change in response to changes in the business environment.
In companies of the 20th century, the “Personnel Department” or “Administration Department” were the most common names for the Human Resources function until the rise of “Human Resource Management”, as it’s most often known today. What is particularly interesting for the observer of the workplace to realize is that the changing names of the function correspond to the evolution of company organization over time.
In that era, the modern factory was established as a result of the Industrial Revolution. When the industrial and manufacturing era arrived, the people departments of factories started to have a strong position in the hierarchy; workers in the same job classification received a consistent salary. During that time, unions gained more popularity, and served to strongly foment class struggles in society.
The function of HR continued to evolve, calling on lawyers whose mission was essentially to resolve social conflicts and to organize the owner/employee relationship through internal rules and rigorous application of the articles of the national Code of Work, as well as adoption of many similar laws in the United States.
Starting in the 1960’s, the phenomenon of motivation/demotivation gained prominence, where the doors of the HR department were opened to psychologists and sociologists in order to humanize the treatment of personnel.
With the 1980’s, markets become more international, with increased competition, and an accompanying need for increased qualification of employees. Motivation of the work force and risk management became the basis for the continuing evolution of companies.
In the first decade of the 21st century, globalization broke down borders and distance; companies needed new strategies, capable of combining financial and technological activities, intelligent policies and an adaptive educational system. Without these, many companies were forced to exit the market.
With the rise of Gen Y and Gen Z, the “Managing of Millennials” took prominence, many of whom never knew the world without digital technology, which was much different from previous generations in their social, technological and economic makeup. They are the ones who went on to assume the power in business from their predecessors. They want to be rapidly trained; they like challenges; they’re in a constant search for recognition; they require flexibility in work methods and work hours, transparency in compensation systems, as well as an open and flexible work environment.
All these factors directly affect HR professionals regarding the ways to attract and retain talent; to strategically develop the organization with the objective of increasing efficiency and profits, and, at the same time, to place value on the human element.
Undoubtedly, human resource management has become increasingly more important for companies, being responsible to align the performance of each employee with the mission and objectives of the business.
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