What Are Human Resources?

Human resources are basically a term that is used to describe all those individuals who work in an organization, although this term is also applicable in labour economics. All organizations possess a special department i.e. a human resources department, charged with the total responsibility for implementing the policies and strategies related to the management of workers (i.e. the human resources). This management function is often abbreviated as ‘HRM’.

The term human resource management was coined in the year 1960s. The pioneering organizations of this function adopted the ‘welfare management’ practices and implemented the principles of ‘scientific management’. From these traditional efforts a separate largely administrative management activity came into being. At that time, it was named as ‘personnel function’, but now it is known as, function of ‘human resources’.

History of human resource management
The initial development of this function can be followed back to at least two different movements. One element explains its origin in the end of 19th century, when organizations like Cadburys recognized the importance the workforce for the overall development of the organization. Organizations started concentrating on the welfare of the workforce and their families. During the First World War, organizations in the United Kingdom adopted women employment policy, which in turn introduced the concept of “welfare officers”. In the meanwhile, organizations of the United States also adopted the concept of “scientific management”. Scientific management principles stated that everything that happens in an organization is scientific in nature and the workforce of an organization can also be managed properly to enhance the efficiency of the business. This introduced the concept of human resource management in USA. Companies like Ford Motor Company, adopted this policy at the very initial stages. By 1920, employment experts and psychologists in the USA initiated the human relations movement, which viewed the employees in terms of their psychology and behaviour.

In the middle of last century i.e. after the Second World War, huge corporations (especially in United States of America) started recruiting personnel from the US army and were now they were able to apply new leadership, training, selection and management development techniques. Similarly, various leading European multinational organizations like Phillips and Shell developed new approaches towards personnel development.

The role of Human Resources Management in the organizations grew throughout the middle of the last century. In times of tension, some organizations adopted ‘soft’ HR policy and some favoured ‘hard’ HR policy. ‘Soft HR’ organizations stressed on areas like loyalty, cohesion and leadership that play important roles in the success of an organization. On the other hand, ‘hard HR’ organizations adopted more rigorous management techniques.

Key functions of Human Resource Management
The department of Human Resource management is dedicated to set strategies and then develop policies, systems, processes and standards that implement these strategies. The key functions of Human Resource Management are-
• Recruitment and selection

• Organizational design and development

• Business transformation

• Change management

• Behavior, conduct and performance management

• Employee relations management

• Industrial relations management

• Training and development

• Rewards, benefits and compensation management

• Workforce personnel data management

Written by Lucas Beaumont

Generalist. Wikipedia contributor. Elementary school teacher from Saskatchewan, Canada.

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