No company is perfect.
Key people leave. One employee’s disastrous choice threatens an entire company. Business goes south.
It’s not what happens that defines a company. It’s what it does in response.
When times are good, companies turn a profit. They retain their people. They see results. Good business conditions mask bad employee practices.
When things turn for the worse you see what’s been hiding all along. Good HR is a hedge against bad results. While solid HR practices never insulate a company from risk, they certainly decrease it.
Take a look at the 2019 Workforce 100 list of best companies for HR in this issue. You’ll see a few that have a dent or two. What sets them apart isn’t perfection. It’s their execution.
—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 97th year, we take a look back at what was on the minds of past generations of people managers.
Hold My Beer — And Don’t Give It Back, June 1965
Preventative care is a popular health care topic in 2019. But Personnel Journal urged the same strategy to deal with “problem drinkers” in the 1960s.
Before they become full-blown alcoholics, people are problem drinkers, according to the article. Titled “Industry’s $2-Billion Headache,” it argues that companies have a responsibility to “find ways to save, not merely the billions of dollars lost, but the terrific human waste.”
Taking a progressive and nuanced approach, author Richard E. Dutton of the University of South Florida highlights the fact that problem drinking is an illness, not a moral failing, and that it’s treatable. It’s still difficult to treat, as the person with the problem will try to hide it from themselves and others for as long as they can. That way, “he can avoid coming to grips with his problem.”
“In many countries, the use of alcoholic beverages is thought of almost as a folkway, such as bowling or square-dancing,” the article stated. It also explored another historical idea about drinking, pointing out the flaws in the problematic belief that “the alcoholic had to reach rock bottom before he could be helped.”
Overall, the article explored the facts behind problem drinking and sought to debunk certain myths about alcoholism, as well as explaining to supervisors why they should help problem drinkers before they become alcoholics.
The issue also featured an article titled, “The Computer — A Challenge to the Personnel Professional” and a review of the 1964 book “Emotional Health on the World of Work,” which touted the importance of “emotional first aid.”
— Andie Burjek
All About the Employees, September 2004
The fall of 2004 was a time when organizations saw fit to invest and enhance their employee populations. The malaise of the dot-com bust was past and the pending financial meltdown was an election cycle away.
What to do with all this extra money lying around? Cigna Inc. committed $2 million annually to recruiting and developing executive women as a business strategy, not political correctness, according to the story “When Women Rise.” Fifteen years after publication, IT Project Manager Diana McGinnis is the lone woman profiled in the story who remains with Cigna.
Disney Corp. took a bit of a different approach to the Magic Kingdom’s people programs, according to the story “Magic for Sale.” It was the dawning of the Disney Institute, where other companies could glean — for a price of course — Disney’s famed people-management techniques.
The eclectic employee base at specialty grocer Trader Joe’s also was in the spotlight: “The upbeat employees who wander the aisles, eager to chat about the latest Brie or newest flavor of hummus,” the story noted.
Mmmmm, Brie. …
— Rick Bell