When we think of September, many of us think about the summer winding down and fall winding up, but did you know that September is also the month that hosts Human Resources Professional Day? The day is celebrated each year on September 26th, and this month it falls on a Sunday. This article will look at the history of the human resources career itself as well as its holiday.

A Brief History of the Human Resources Department

The groundwork for the modern human resources department was laid in part by Robert Owen and Charles Babbage. Owens was a Scottish social reformer in the 18th century who believed workers who were motivated rather than threatened would work more efficiently. Babbage approached management with a scientific lens, and the two were considered early pioneers of the human resources department with their work-led approach to organizations. Their basic philosophy was that employees were the heartbeat of an organization and that their well-being was directly correlated with success.

A century later, American mechanical engineer Frederick Winslow Taylor introduced methods to improve industrial efficiency and was among the first management consultants. His methods were summarized in his book The Principles of Scientific Management and included key ingredients such as scientific selection of workers, systemic analysis of jobs, breakdown of jobs into mechanical tasks, careful training by supervisors, fair wages, exclusion of overqualified workers, and close cooperation between employees and managers.

Happening concurrently at that time, unions were pressing for more employee rights and certain personnel jobs were emerging that focused on managing wages and workplace safety for employees.

By the middle of the 20th century, human resources was a degree offered in many universities, and many organizations began employing human resource workers as unions began to decrease. These new human resources departments were responsible for enforcing legislation that had just been passed to protect various classes of people in addition to training, record keeping, managing employee benefits, and compliance with local, state, and federal laws.

Modern Human Resource Departments

Today, HR departments are responsible for a variety of functions, including:

  • Attracting and hiring skilled workers
  • Onboarding new employees
  • Providing regular and relevant training to employees
  • Building and shaping a company’s culture
  • Ensuring that employees are set up for success to achieve an organization’s goals
  • Checking that an organization is staying compliant with local, state, and federal laws

This is only a snapshot of all that is wrapped up into an HR department, and each department looks slightly different given the size and industry of an organization.

Human Resources Professional Day

Human Resources Professional Day was first referenced by Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen in October of 2013. After serving as a teacher, principal, Adventist minister, and pastor; Allen was Jamaica’s sixth appointed government-general. The day was created to recognize and celebrate the work that HR individuals complete for an organization.

In recent years, the holiday it is always celebrated on September 26th. Specifically, the day draws attention to the hard, interpersonal work that HR professionals deal with, including staff negotiating, detailed record keeping, and policy implementation.

Some institutions or workplaces host seminars where speakers describe the roles that an HR department is responsible for, and this is to educate individuals who might only have negative connotations about HR departments or not fully understand all that they handle within an organization. An HR department’s main purpose is to serve its employees, so all members of an organization benefit when employees appreciate the men and women behind the scenes that work on their behalf.

With COVID-19 disrupting the way that organizations operate on a day-to-day basis, HR departments were recognized for trying to keep up employee morality in a time of high loneliness and uncertainty. Actions such as virtual happy hours, employee care packages, department challenges, and employee exercise / nutrition / finance assistance programs were ways that HR departments rose to the occasion to keep providing for employees and help them be as successful as possible amidst the lock downs and quarantines.

Sean Sullivan describes HR professionals as “business strategists, problem-solvers, talent developers, culture curators, and so much more.” As an HR professional himself, Sullivan understands the hard work, dedication, and sacrifice that goes into this career, and he sees the real-world impact that HR professionals have, as far up as on Capitol Hill. He is confident that HR departments will continue to strive for better workplace conditions and to serve employees.

Bhr Consulting

Bhr Consulting understands the importance of an HR department and is ready to tackle any challenges that your company presents. Contact us today to learn more about our HR services and how we can serve your employees.