Human Resource Management

Read our article in the Cayman Financial Review Magazine, eversion 

Sidebar:  HR Care 

It’s also a cause for confusion as some organisations still use the term personnel management, a concept that emerged over 30 years ago with personnel officers coming onto the scene, the profession evolved over time and the norm is now simply HR.

On top of this, in 2012 we find ourselves with a raft of job functions with many people wondering what they all mean; there are people officers, employee affairs managers, HR business partners, human capital managers and talent managers–to name but a few.

Where did all this come from and how on earth can the small and medium size businesses cope with it all? And do they have to?

A bit of past history is a useful place to start and the following is based on the HR perspective from the UK:  During the Industrial Revolution, there was a great deal of abuse; workers had long hours (90 per week for women and children) and dreadful working conditions.  Trades unions emerged to protect workers during the 19th Century.

The Factory Acts to protect women and children were passed in this era, introducing factory inspectors to enforce them.  In 1891, regulations for dangerous processes were passed.  The welfare movement emerged through the Quakers and firms such as Rowntree and Cadbury were leaders in the idea of caring for workers and industrial betterment. 

In 1915 the government appointed the Health of Munitions Workers Committee, which considered industrial fatigue, hours of labour and factors affecting permanent health and physical efficiency.  The 1920s saw a post-war economic slump with high unemployment, low wages and welfare issues being the predominant issue.  The Industrial Welfare Society was created in 1927 with firms as members, at this time some companies were trying to become more scientific by introducing sophisticated management techniques.

In the 1930s a greater awareness developed to the problems of running plant and machinery, owners were looking for more specialised advice on technical matters and also the human factor.

As a result the workers committee movement sprang up which coincided with an ever-increasing number of women entering into the work force, often in very poor conditions as office workers
State social provisions including sick pay and welfare benefit schemes were introduced.

In 1931 the Institute of Labour Management replaced the Industrial Welfare Society and labour officers, personnel policies, greater security of employment and earnings, joint consultation between managers and staff became increasingly evident.

In the 1930s there was an increasing interest in organisational psychology, testing was introduced, Factories Acts were consolidated, hours of work began to reduce, holidays with pay were legislated for and the Second World War took its toll.

The post war influences recognised training and the complexity of management through supervisory and management development courses.  By the end of the war the place of personnel management was recognised and it had six clear categories:
Employment, Wages, Joint Consultation, Health and Safety, Employee Services and Welfare, Education and Training.

In 1946 the ILM became the Institute of Personnel Management and introduced its syllabus along with the role of Personnel Management becoming a recognised professional function.  Such topics as incentive schemes, work study, merit rating schemes, attitude surveys and communications became the vogue in the 1950s.

Through the 1960s, 70s and 80s challenges facing many organisations throughout Europe and North America in particular concerned the discontentment of workers with inevitable conflicts occurring, such as strikes, working to rule, disputes and grievances.

This led to the specialisation of personnel managers in handling complex and fraught industrial relations.  HR became an advanced degree subject through many excellent programmes worldwide provided by highly respected universities and professional bodies.  Many countries subsequently introduced employment relations legislation and the growth of this continued through the 90s and into this century; covering health and safety, minimum wage, maternity/paternity provisions, diversity, discrimination. The list goes on and is still being extended and refined today.

Professionalism within the HR function is now evident worldwide with the IPM obtaining chartered status and becoming the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development.

Here in Cayman, the CI Society of HR Professionals is a highly respected association to which the majority of HR staff in the Cayman Islands now actively belong.

No matter what their job title, HR professionals have a positive impact on their organisation, in addition to the possession of business skills such as analysis, conceptualisation, strategising, controlling and decision making they need full competence in :

  • Resourcing, talent planning and recruitment
  • Psychology at work
  • Organisational development and design
  • Learning and development
  • Employment law and employee relations
  • Performance and reward
  • Employee engagement

Today every manager and supervisor has to be their own personnel officer. In larger firms, the HR Department is there to provide specialist services and support. It is there to guide, assist and provide the required HR direction and strategy for that particular company.

Recent research conducted amongst managers across a wide range of sectors identified what aspects of their work challenged them the most. Managing change was the most significant factor followed by maintaining a work-life balance and thirdly influencing my peers and senior managers.

Other issues they said were challenging included:

  • Managing projects
  • Performance management
  • Managing/improving internal processes
  • Time management
  • Developing team members
  • Absence management

These are primarily HR related subjects and as it is generally considered impractical for SMEs to employ professional HR managers to handle complex and challenging HR issues the new Chamber service- HR Care has been introduced to fill this gap as an HR Help Line providing advice, guidance and professional services at a selective and affordable price.

It is important in today’s business environment for even the smallest businesses to consider designing and implementing written policies and procedures on a range of people management issues in order to reduce their risk, to ensure compliance with legislative requirements and to reach higher standards of HR practice.

HR Care can and will be there to help.

SMEs are as vulnerable as larger organisations today facing the same complex, sensitive and important HR issues. It can become costly if any are referred to court or a tribunal. Time is a precious commodity and business owners are best devoting it to achieving core business objectives rather than recovering from HR problems that in most cases can be prevented.

To find out more and discuss how HR Care can benefit your company please contact [email protected] or call 949-8090 ext. 122