HR work is complex, ripe with opportunity and rife with challenges. Technology isn’t just the province of software developers, coders and IT specialists. It’s an indispensable part of marketing, accounting, operations and sales. It’s an essential part of HR.
Sophisticated communication and collaboration tools, on-demand employee service platforms and a host of targeted apps have made a job that is fundamentally about managing people simultaneously bigger and more exciting.
It’s not just people who are your most valuable asset. So is the technology they use to carry out their work. The interaction between the two is the future.
As we write in this issue, technology reshapes HR in ways both big and small. Far from a back-office function, HR is on the vanguard of the future of work. Workforce is alongside you for the journey.
~Mike Prokopeak, Editor in Chief
The workplace has changed a lot since 1922. That year The Journal of Personnel Research debuted, rebranded later as Personnel Journal and finally Workforce. Now in our 96th year, we take a look back at what was on the minds of past generations of people managers.
Preparing for World War II, October 1939/October 1940
Not surprisingly, World War II posed American employers many challenges, even before the country officially entered the war in December 1941. Personnel Journal covered pre-wartime employment issues with gusto. Employers were preparing for serious problems like a shortage of trained labor, strikes and demands for higher wages.
One major concern for employers was the raiding of skilled labor, according to the October 1939 article “War Effects on Labor Relations.” Employment managers in the airplane and machine tools industries, looking for skilled labor, would go to different towns to lure skilled workers from their jobs. “In some places the employment men were run out of town,” wrote author Charles S. Slocombe.
Slocombe also called for civility among organizations, stating that raiding was “something companies should avoid at all costs.”
An article from October 1940, also written by Slocombe, “Skilled Workers for Defense Industries,” meanwhile, focused on the U.S.’ efforts to ramp up its defense programs. The author mentioned two potential sources for skilled workers: apprentices in training and production workers with high potential to thrive in a skilled position. “It is essential that management establish a definite policy of promotion from within in order to train effectively through upgrading,” wrote Slocombe.
— Andie Burjek
When Job Boards Ruled Recruiting, November 2005
There was a time in the not-too-distant past that the Big 3 dominated their industry. Not GM, Ford and Chrysler. We’re talking about Monster, Yahoo HotJobs and CareerBuilder. They were arguably at the top of their game in 2005 and ruled online recruiting to the collective tune of $1.2 billion, according to writer Jonathan Pont’s Workforce Management story, “Leading Job Boards Address Challenges of Globalization, Overabundance of Responses.” And what was their model? Matt Ferguson, who remains today as CareerBuilder CEO, stated at the time: “We provide eyeballs. Those eyeballs translate into applications and hires, and that’s what companies pay us for.” Indeed, they did.
HR outsourcing was also hitting its stride. The story “BPO Bandwagon” found many lauding the move to outsource back-office personnel processes. In fact, highly regarded analyst Lisa Rowan said businesses were “getting to the Holy Grail of transformation.”
E-learning mergers were all the rage. Saba had acquired Centra Software for $60 million just two days after SumTotal bought Pathlore Software for $48 million. Why? To keep up with behemoths like IBM and Oracle, naturally. And where are Saba and SumTotal today? Both gobbled up by private equity firms.
— Rick Bell