Modern HR really began in the 1950s so HR is really 65 years old this year. In the 50s, a lot of new recruitment, hiring and development programs were created to ensure that major people gaps would not exist in the future – there was simply no succession plans. However, in the 1970s with an ebb in the economy most of those programs were shelved.
During the recession of the 80s, large numbers of HR tasks were delegated to frontline managers who did not have the required skills. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, with the rise and fall of the dot-com era, HR was once again briefly at the forefront of the battle for talent especially in the hi-technology area. When the bubble burst in 2001, HR was once again relegated to a supporting role. This has continued even as HR has become a more disciplined and professional practice. Calls for HR to have a seat at the executive table and be given a higher profile within organizations have largely fallen flat even as new Chief HR Officer roles have been created.
So what do we do? Do we need to retire HR for something better? I think so and I’ll tell you why in my next blog post “HR – Retire it or Recreate it?”