- Category: Management and Leadership Resource Centre
Definition of Human Resource Management (HRM):
Human Resource Management, also commonly known as HRM or simply HR, is the process of recruiting, managing and exiting human resources with the aim of optimising organisational performance.
History of Human Resource Management (HRM):
Organised work began about 4000 years ago during the agricultural age. This was a time where families managed their own farms and there was, therefore, no need for a human resource function. It was only during the 1800’s when industries emerged that the issue of people management became impossible to ignore. In the beginning of the industrial age, children and less fortunate people were used as cheap labour to maximise profit. In societies where this practice became intolerable, labour unions emerged and the rights of, especially woman and children workers came under spotlight. As time elapsed a variety of employee issues such as recruitment, performance, discipline and organisational exit was consolidated under a discipline that we know today as Human Resource Management.
During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s workforce productivity was explored as a science for the first time. The consequence was academic interest and research from gurus such as Abraham Maslow (1908-1970), Kurt Lewin (1890-1947), Max Weber (1864-1920), Frederick Herzberg (1923-2000), and David McClelland (1917-1998), whose work formed the basis of applied disciplines such as industrial and organizational psychology as well as human resource management.
1890 -1910: Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915) explored the concept of ‘scientific management’. This was later referred to as ‘Taylorism’. The purpose of scientific management was to improve economic efficiency in manufacturing jobs and led to the investigation of concepts such as employee incentives and motivation.
1910 – 1930: Advancements in employee testing and selection. Various research studies lead to the beginning of industrial psychology as a discipline.
1920’s: Titles such as ‘labour manager’ or ‘employment manager’ emerged within industries.
1924 – 1932: The Hawthorne studies, conducted by Elton Mayo and others, unexpectedly documented how stimuli, unrelated to financial compensation and working conditions, yielded more productive workers.
1935 – 1950: Labour unions become increasingly prominent and consequently great emphasis is placed on collective bargaining, labour relations and employee management.
1945: Personnel management is a generally accepted position within organisations. It is generally accepted that employment policies has a large effect on outputs and production.
1950 – 1980: During the latter half of the 20th century, the expressions ‘industrial and labour relations’ and ‘personnel administration’ was used to describe the HR function.
1980’s: Organisations begin viewing employees as assets rather than numbers; consequently the term ‘Human Resources Management’ became the acceptable term used to manage the people function within organisations.
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