The industrial revolution saw the introduction of

 

 

The human resource
function has certainly evolved over the centuries. The management of people as
resources, was required long before the birth of the term ‘Human resource
management’. Emergence of trends, prominent thinkers, changes of government
legislation and the economic climate have all influenced changes in both
theoretical and practical approaches to managing people as resources within organisations.
The HR professional has become a prominent role within organisations ensuring
that organisations utilise their human resources effectively, which will
contribute to the success of an organisation. (Human resources can now be
defined as the total knowledge, skills, creative abilities, talents and
aptitudes of an organisations workforce.)

 

‘The Factory system’

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The industrial revolution
saw the introduction of machinery to ‘the factory system’ and the agricultural
sector. Human labour was replaced by machinery which created an acceleration in
production and distribution methods. Businesses and farms could produce on a
much larger scale. This growth required organisation, direction and
coordination of its ‘labourers’ to achieve economic success . ‘From the owner’s perspective, the new
factory workers required direction, equipment had to be installed and
maintained, production controlled and goods distributed and sold. Here we find
many of the key elements of modern management: the need to plan, organise,
direct and control the use of equipment, capital, materials and workers within
organisations. (     ) The increase
in production lead to a growing labour force however, conditions in factories
were poor and hazardous. The
concentration of workers in factories served to focus public attention upon
conditions of employment, and forced workers to act collectively to achieve
better conditions. ( paper)

 

 

‘The Welfare Tradition’

What we now call ‘HRM’
first originated in the late 19th and early 20th century
in Britain. This period became known as The Welfare Tradition. The movement was
a response to the poor working and living conditions experienced by workers the
newly industrialised factories. This was an extremely prominent point in
history in the evolution of ‘HRM’ as the appointment of the ‘Welfare officer’
lead to progressive changes for workers well-being in the workplace.  Many of the conditions of employment that we
receive today such as minimum rates of pay, health and safety and rest periods
were established as standards during this time. The role of the ‘welfare
officers’ were established in larger progressive companies such as the Quaker-owned
confectionary firms – Rowntree’s, Fry’s and Cadbury’s.  This interest in employee welfare was a
significant feature of the Quaker philosophy and somewhat linked to their
religious beliefs. ‘Progressive
employers, often influenced by their religious beliefs, undertook various
initiatives to improve working conditions in their factories'(Macmillion). Quaker
firms, although not the only firms who focused on employee wellbeing were
pioneers of their time. They introduced innovative methods of engaging their
workers such as the broadcasting of music in the factories by ‘Rowntree’s and
‘Cadbury’s’ In the late 19th century.  (Robinson et al,2004). Quaker owned firms in
Ireland such as ‘Bewley’s’ and ‘Jacob’s’ carried out similar traditions of
welfare in their biscuit factory in Dublin. They established a welfare
department but even before this they had services in place which workers could
avail of, such as an onsite doctor and dentist, they also provided a milk
scheme for their workers, and the factory closed for two weeks in the August
which allowed for annual leave. (Burke et al, 2016). Many elements of this
‘caring’ approach have survived inn modern ‘HRM’ however, during this period
welfare officers would have been an independent figure, representing employee
interests. Today it is very clear that the role of ‘HR professional’ is to
first align with the needs and interests of the business and to serve as part
of the management team. Another notable development of the human resource
function, dates back to this period- In 1913, In York in England the very first
‘Welfare Workers association’ was established. The meeting included 34 members,
29 of these were women. Most notably attendees were representatives from still well-known
firms today- Boots, Cadbury, Chivers and Irishman Charles. E Jacob. The meeting
was chaired by Seebohm Rowntree. The ‘WWA’ focused their attention mainly on
the working conditions for female workers in factories all around the UK.  WWA membership rose dramatically when it
became compulsory for all firms controlled by the ministry of munitions to have
an appointed welfare officer. Post-World War 1 they had almost 1,000 members
nationwide. This all lead to smaller branches of local welfare associations
being established around the country, with no affiliation to the ‘WWA’. To
prevent the disintegration of the movement, the ‘WWA’ evolved to form an
umbrella-like structure that included the smaller branches that had been
established. The association has evolved to become one of the most globally
recognised chartered institutes of HRM – the name of the association underwent
many changes in order to reflect the changing focus if its members, It is now
recognised as ‘CIPD’. The establishment of the welfare officer is so
significant as the ‘welfare officer’ would be generally seen as the predecessor
for the modern day human resource practitioner.

 

‘US’ scientific management- ‘Taylorism’

After the first word war in the early 1930s
Britain had fallen into economic depression. As a result, companies began
surrendering the initiatives that had been adopted in areas of HR and welfare.
Business’s sought to engage in a more systematic approach that had been
influenced by Fredrick Taylors’ ideas in ”scientific management” published in
1911.  Fredrick Taylor was a mechanical
engineer, his influence had profound effect on the development of the human
resource function, he suggested that managers should scientifically measure
worker output. He sought to increase worker efficiency and productivity by
replacing methods of work appraisal with scientific management and higher
targets. In 1898, after serving in many prominent firms, Fredrick Taylor had
established the role of the management engineer he then began work at the
‘Bethlehem steel company’. Here he developed ‘high speed steel’ and experimented
with shovelling and pig iron handling. In February 1899, at a time when the
price of pig iron increased dramatically. Taylor introduced and incentivised
wage system to workers on the plant yard. His team experimented with workers
loading the pig iron into trucks. ”Gillespie,
a relatively inexperienced man, and Wolle, a novice, timed the men for several
days and concluded that seventy-five tons, minus forty percent for “rests
and necessary delays,” was the task of the “first-class” worker.
Taylor then arbitrarily set a rate that would enable the
“first-class” pig iron handler to earn the average wage of all the
Bethlehem workers”. (Nelson, Oct 1977) The experiment was successful in
terms of productivity and the development of a systematic approach to training
however it came under scrutiny as workers suffered great hardships and many of
them quit as a result. Despite much criticism of his ideas the many of the
elements of ‘scientific management’ still survive today, often construction
workers are paid on the ‘piece rate system’ 

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