I remember one of my customer meetings last month quite vividly. It was with the HR General Manager of a multi-national manufacturing company. Perhaps one of the most affable people I have met, he spoke at length about his experience managing HR in different companies and interspersed his speech with lively anecdotes and his opinion about the changing role of HR.
“HR owes its origin to Industrial Relations” he began. The nature of the workforce has, obviously, changed a lot since the Industrial Revolution, but it is not difficult to imagine that about a hundred and fifty years back in Victorian England, there might have been a clique of managers specialising in dealing with workers in coalmines or shipyards. Around the turn of the century, with communism in the air, it couldn’t have been too easy for those managers. A seismic change might have begun.