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Chapter 2. A Path to Alignment

Chapter 2. A Path to Alignment

Human Resources, as a function, got its start in the personnel departments of corporate organizations in the 1930s and 1940s. The critical functions performed by the personnel department were highly process oriented and involved, for the most part, management of employee paperwork. This responsibility included oversight of a range of processes that span the entire lifecycle of an individual’s employment with the company, such as the creation of job requisitions, recruitment of new hires, tracking of job applicants, orientation of new hires, management of the benefits program, performance tracking, tracking of compensation, dealing with grievances, and employee exit processing. This is just a partial list of the processes historically managed through the personnel department. The emphasis was generally on the creation and management of documentation. Every step along the path from hiring to termination needed to be carefully documented, and this huge mountain of documentation needed to be organized, filed, and tracked. In the age before modern information technology, this cataloging and tracking by itself was a daunting task. As corporations grew more complex, jobs more complicated and specialized, the personnel department continued to fill many roles and those working within the function often wore many hats.

Other functional groups such as Finance and Accounting became more and more focused within their specialty, while at the same time the personnel department, having adopted the moniker of Human Resources, took on ever more diverse tasks. A telling example is the role of the Information Technology (IT) department. One of the most significant shifts in technology measured by its impact and ubiquity has been the introduction of computers to the business organization. One of the most important early uses for computers was in the Accounting and Finance functions, and because of this, most companies put their fledgling IT departments under Finance and Accounting. Over time these departments took on ownership of other functions and assets with the organization such as communications systems and so forth. Back in the 1980s it became obvious to most that the IT group should be independent of Accounting and Finance and that managing this function from within Finance and Accounting was preventing those groups from focusing on their prime tasks. Meanwhile, the Human Resources function took on more and more responsibility in a range of areas related to employees. As a result of this, Human Resources today covers a huge range of functions from those related to talent management such as recruiting, staffing, training, leadership development, and retention as well as managing benefits, employee engagement, wellness benefits, employee legal issue management, and many others. Human Resources professionals are expected to wear a range of hats including, but not limited to:


  

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