Then & Now: The Evolution of HR

The Evolution of HR Department | The Enterprise World

Not that long ago people looked for jobs on bulletin boards, while HR staff kept piles and piles of paperwork on each staff member. However, thanks to various tech developments, times have changed, and nowadays everything is digitalized. As a result, the role of HR departments has changed as well. But let’s take a few steps back. When was the beginning of HR as we know it today? To answer this we have to go back to the 1800s, when welfare workers used to regulate hours for workers in factories. In the early 1900s, after a series of strikes, the National Cash Register Co. launched a department whose purpose was to manage grievances. This is how HR was born. 

A lot of things regarding HR have changed since then, and they still haven’t stopped evolving. HR isn’t even the same as it was a decade or two ago. Let’s take a look at the areas of HR that have radically changed. 

HR research

The sole purpose of the HR department was to determine the salary of the employees and check whether the workers were being paid correctly. Although this is still a part of HR functions, the HR department is now also conducting a wide variety of research regarding corporate governance and the world economy.

Recruiting new employees

The Evolution of HR Department | The Enterprise World

Thanks to the Internet, reaching out to potential candidates nowadays is incredibly simple. However, before the World Wide Web, companies had to print ads in the newspapers and magazines, which resulted in a limited reach and the employment of less qualified people.  Connecting with other skilled professionals was much harder and scheduling job interviews more difficult. Today, due to tech advancements it is incredibly easy to connect with like-minded professionals. Promoting the brand is simple via different mediums, and there is software for scheduling interviews. Nowadays, HR professionals can find the best HR software for their needs in just a few clicks. If you are interested in this software matchmaking, learn more here.

Culture building

The Evolution of HR Department | The Enterprise World

What was once considered the company’s culture? Maybe an employee of the month or the year plaque, or the annual office party. HR was mainly in charge of processing paperwork as well as personnel management. Nowadays, HR is more in charge of creating a company brand that will attract the best people in the field. Once they have been employed, the HR has the assignment to keep them engaged and help them find a path within the company for professional and personal growth. 

Regular reviews

Before, employees had only one or two reviews each year. In the meantime, they wouldn’t know whether the management was satisfied with their performance. These days, employees are receiving regular feedback about their work. Systematic manager-employee check-ins and simultaneous feedback offer opportunities for coaching, and employee growth. Regular consultations also eliminate the stress of yearly reviews. Most millennials even claim that they feel more confident and comfortable about their performance when they have frequent performance conversations with their managers.

Remote work

The Evolution of HR Department | The Enterprise World

A few decades ago when someone was working remotely that implied business trips, and flier miles. Today, working remotely means working from home. During the pandemic, a lot of employees started working from home, and many of them haven’t returned to the office ever since. In fact, the ability to work remotely is a huge selling point for recruiters today. However, this means that the HR department has to ensure that these workers remain engaged and integrated into the company culture.

The way the HR department works and its purpose have certainly changed over the years, and if history has taught us anything, it will keep evolving in the future as well.

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