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The Evolution of the Human Resources Department

Human Resources, or “HR”, is a critical part of organizational success. In today’s fast paced, modern environment, businesses of every type and size depend on HR for not only administrative leadership, but also to help define strategy, provide insight for important decision-making and help with pretty much everything people related. Organizations are finally starting to recognize people as one of their most important assets and HR has evolved into a pretty significant piece of the puzzle. So how has the department grown over the years, and where is the modern human resources department headed?

Leaving The Dusty Basement Behind

Old school HR, or Personnel as it was (and sometime still is!) called, was originally an administrative, transactional department within the organization. Depending on the size of the business, there was a personnel department (or maybe just one person) who literally processed things like payroll, benefit forms, job applications etc. They may have handled recruitment but on a very administrative level, and where they received resumes, they weren’t involved in the actual process of hiring. Some conducted interviews, but in most cases, the script was written beforehand and the task was merely clerical. The HR department was never part of the strategic process as much as they were just a service department.

Moving From the Reactive to the Proactive

As the years have gone by, the focus of HR has shifted, leaving the reactive style of problem solving behind in exchange for a new proactive style. HR representatives are being called upon to voice opinions on important decisions about who the organization is hiring and why. Executives and decision makers are starting to recognize HR as an instrument that affects every other aspect of the organization. They are finally being given a seat at the table and the chance to play more of an advisory and strategic role in the organization.

An Important Strategic Partner Moving Forward

Modern HR still involves the traditional transactional piece. Hiring, firing, training and recruiting will always be the purview of the department, but in a much smarter way. The trend moving forward is to recognize the value of having these HR type structures in place. Regardless of industry or sector, people are the most important factor and the highest expenditure in the modern organization. Effectively managing salaries and benefits will continue to be a driving force and a measure of success for organization’s moving forward.

Human resources has had a colorful past and continues to evolve even today. Is every organization on board, recognizing the value and importance of a highly functional human resources department? Not by a long shot. But is there room to grow and the means to get there? Absolutely.

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