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How Edward 'Ned' Hay, a Former Personnel Journal Editor, Helped Redefine HR

June 28, 2012
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Edward 'Ned' Hay
Edward 'Ned' Hay, right, with his wife, Doris, or 'D.D.,' Hay

Over the past 90 years, scores of people have changed human resources. But one of the most influential is clearly Edward N. "Ned" Hay, who not only founded the consulting firm Hay Group in 1943 but also served as publisher of Personnel Journal, the predecessor of today's Workforce Management magazine. He held the post from 1947 through 1958.

Hay took over as publisher and editor of the Personnel Journal when Charles Slocombe died in December 1946. In February 1947, the Journal announced Slocombe's death with a brief note at the bottom from Hay saying: "Arrangements are being made to continue publication of the Personnel Journal in its present form with the same editorial policy. Pending completion of these plans, I have been asked to become temporary editor."

That's how it began, but it certainly was not how it would end.

Hay's legacy is profound. "He saw that the people side of management was neglected and underdeveloped," points out Jim Bowers, a vice president at Hay Group. As a result, Hay laid the foundation for a radically different type of human resources. He was a pioneer in using job evaluations to determine an employee's value and pay. "Prior to this, simple market pricing on job title comparisons was the primary tool," Bowers says.

Hay's stint at Personnel Journal helped infuse these ideas into the collective consciousness of a rapidly evolving business world. He put many of these concepts—centering heavily on rewards, talent development, organizational effectiveness and workforce engagement—into action while at Hay Group.

"The most successful companies of the future will be the ones that take full advantage of improved personnel techniques," he once wrote.

Hay died in 1958, and his wife, Doris "D.D." Hay, briefly served as editor of Personnel Journal in 1960.

Samuel Greengard is a writer based in West Linn, Oregon. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com.

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