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Human Resource Management: History and Future


Human resource management (HRM) is a vital aspect of overall organizational management. HRM has evolved to develop into a comprehensive and complex discipline in business. Some of the major functions of HRM include job design; recruitment and selection; training and development; workforce planning; performance management and remuneration/compensation.

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The HRM as a discipline is subject to changes emanating from economic and management trends. It is recommended, therefore, that stakeholders in HRM should strategize on adapting to emerging trends and changes in the dynamic world characterized by high levels of competition.

This research paper aims to give an elaborate discussion on HRM paying key attention to history and evolution, key aspects, and the future of HRM. The paper concludes by giving some recommendations that are pertinent to the survival of HRM as a management element and as a discipline in business.


Human resource management (HRM) is one of the most vital aspects of management. HRM is geared to ensuring that employees in an organization give their optimal performances as per set organizational goals and objectives (Dias, 2011).

HRM departments within businesses have distinct mandates that are pertinent to employees from job design; workforce planning; recruitment and selection; training and development; performance management; remuneration and legal and regulating issues (Smith & Mazin, 2011).This research paper studies on HRM as a topic of business and a discipline in management.

Literature review

History of HRM

HRM has evolved and changed over time to become an integral part of management it is today. It is worth noting that when HRM emerged, many business stakeholders and contributors argued and believed that it was a weak aspect of management (Aslam, Aslam, Ali, Habib, & Jabeen, 2013). As such, it was predicted that HRM would have a short life and not survive the dynamics of management.

Managing workers has been part of many organizations’ management since the ancient era when labor planning was adopted. However, the origin of HRM can be traced back to the early 20th Century. The table below summarizes the evolution of HRM from the early 20th century, highlighting some of the key events and milestones.

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Time Business Realities HRM Name Issues
Before 1900 Small Business and Guilds Non-existent Business owners manage the HR issues
1900 Industrial Revolution Labour Relations Employees views as interchangeable parts
1920 Civil Service/World War I Industrial Relations Workers’ rights and more formalized processes
1940 Scientific management/World War II Personnel Administration Efficiency experts and more highly evolved HRM processes
1960 Civil Rights and Compliance Personnel Legal compliance and reporting
1980 Human Relations, the knowledge/Service Economy, Mergers, and Acquisitions Human Resource People Relevance in a fast-changing world; motivation and human relations theories
2000 Modern Organizations HRM No officially adopted names

Key aspects of HRM

Job design

Job design can be defined as “changing the content and processes of a job to increase an employee’s satisfaction, motivation, and productivity” (Zareen, Razzaq, & Mujtaba, 2013). Therefore, job design is a vital tool that HRM can adopt to optimize employees’ performance and overall realization of organizational goals.

Some studies have analyzed the link between job design and employee performance. It is generally concluded that a strong positive link exists between job design and employee performance. HRM can use effective job designs to involve, motivate, and augment the productivity of employees (Abid, Sarwar, Imran, Jabbar, & Hannan, 2013).

Recruitment and selection

The processes of recruiting and selections are vital in HRM and, therefore, should be done right (Shih, 2005). It is worth noting that although the two terms are related, they differ in meaning and application. Recruitment can be termed as “the process of attracting, screening, and selecting qualified people for a job” (Omolo, Oginda, & Oso, 2012, p. 141). Selection involves choosing job applicants with the best qualification from a group of candidates (Ullah, 2010).

Recruiting and selection processes are integral parts of organizational management and specifically resourcing strategies. The essence of recruiting is matching potential employees with their job requirements (Dagdeviren, 2015).

Research has revealed that proper recruitment/selection augments organizational performance since employees are vital assets in any organization (Omolo, Oginda, & Oso, 2012).

Training and development

Organizations must invest in employees’ training. Employees need to augment their proficiency for organizational survival in any business (Truitt, 2011). Accomplishing of organizational goals can be linked to the level of employee training (Hafeez & Akbar, 2015). It is worth noting several management reasons including changing trends and requirements necessitate training and development of employees. As such, organizations should constantly train their employees to survive the ultra-competitive business environments.

Workforce planning

Varied definitions of workforce planning exist. A somewhat comprehensive approach defines workforce planning as “a process in which an organization attempts to estimate the demand for labor and evaluate the size, nature, and source of supply which will be required to meet that demand” (Sinclair, 2004, p. 2). The commonly adopted definition, probably due to its simplicity and preciseness, is “getting the right number of people with the right competencies in the right jobs at the right time” (Sinclair, 2004, p. 2).

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Workforce planning is a vital aspect of HRM. Workforce planning aids HRM in obtaining the appropriate labor pertinent in meeting organizational goals. Currently, the business environment is extremely competitive and, therefore, planning for the workforce is a prerequisite for organizational success and survival (Louch, 2014). Additionally, the current economic environment is characterized by fluctuating trends and thus, HRM must plan for downturns and upturns in the economy.

Moreover, HRM should plan to avoid losses associated with changing demography. It is imperative to note that organizations are faced with losses emanating from the aging and retiring workforce (Mills, 2016). As such, workforce planning helps organizations avert the loss of skills and knowledge. Finally, workforce planning helps HRM departments by providing schedules that allow employees space and time to work for common goals (Syedain, 2010).

Performance management

Performance management is an aspect of HRM geared to instituting shared workforce comprehension of overall organizational goal achievement. Organizational goals are established and are aligned with employees’ skills, qualifications/competency, plans, and result orientations. Considerable emphasis is put on augmenting outcomes, training, and development of employees in attempts to attain organizational goals (People Streme Human Capital Management, 2013).

It is worth noting that performance management encompasses other aspects of HRM, including job design; recruitment and selection; training/development; compensation among others. Also, performance management is relatively broader about other related HRM aspects such as performance appraisal. Performance management has an overall goal of improving the performances of all parties in organizations. Overall, organizational improvement is achieved through planning, controlling, and evaluating team and individual performances.

Key aspects of performance management.
Figure 1: Key aspects of performance management.


HRM plays a vital role in determining employees’ remuneration (Australian Human Resource Institute , 2016). Remuneration/compensation is a key element of job attractiveness, motivation, and employee retention. Additionally, remuneration plays an extremely significant role in determining the efficacy and effectiveness of employees (Gupta & Shaw, 2014). As such, remuneration determines the type of people who apply for jobs, who are hired, and employees’ motivation.

The future of HRM

Current and future trends are likely to have huge implications for HRM. Therefore, HRM managers should be swift in adapting to the changes and trends for HRM to survive. The following are some of the trends that are likely to have significant impacts on the HRM profession.

Big data

Global technology is extremely dynamic and thus, information and data are readily available, especially with the “big data” phenomenon. Traditionally, organizations used academic results to recruit. However, the link between employees’ performances and academic qualification is relatively weak. By adopting technology and “big data”, organizations can use different variables to predict employee performances. Therefore, “big data” will revolutionize the recruitment and selection of employees (Kumar & Kumar, 2014).

“Big data” is likely to have negative implications on the psychosocial aspects of HRM. It is worth noting that engaging employees is a key driving factor in a business. However, with “big data”, avenues of employee engagement are limited as there are no elaborate explanations behind data (Gibson, Ziskin, & Boudreau, 2014).

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HRM profession should be equipped with appropriate mechanisms of telling the story behind data. Other departments in an organization are less likely to have such capacities, expertise, and appropriateness of interpreting employees’ data. The HRM profession must develop psychosocial and communication disciplines in an organization. Otherwise, other departments such as marketing might take over some of HRM mandates.

Skills gaps

Skills gaps are widening and, therefore, HRM departments should be swift and effective in the tapping of skilled workers. As such, for organizations to have the right personnel, HRM should be more aggressive. HRM must develop initiatives that swiftly tap skills when needed. Drastic changes and talent management are prerequisites for the success of HRM departments in the volatile labor market with the knowledge-oriented era.

Diversity and inclusion

Globally, drives for diversity and inclusion are apparent. HRM departments are highly impacted by diversity and inclusion issues. Regulations and legislation concerning diversity and inclusion affect the functioning of HRM departments. For instance, gender and minority issues highly influence HRM recruitment and selection decisions. The trend is likely to be prolonged as more advocacies for diversity are predicted.

Studies show that extreme diversity can be retrogressive and a hindrance to effective goal realization. A more diverse workforce faces more challenges in attempts to realize organizational goals. Therefore, HRM departments should adopt effective collaboration tools and provide adequate time for people from diverse backgrounds to work in harmony.

Generational issues

A multigenerational workforce is a product of generational diversity that will influence the future of HRM. Most HRM departments are not adequately prepared for a multigenerational workforce. It is worth noting that the older generation has a relatively higher experience and knowledge than the young generation. Thus, when the older generation retires, they are likely to leave organizations with knowledge deficiencies.

HRM departments have adopted inverse mentoring techniques where the younger generation mentors the older generation.

Social media impacts at workplaces

Social media has revolutionized the way employees interact at workplaces. Information and ideas are now exchanged easily and fast. HRM, therefore, is faced with the challenge of ensuring that organizational cultures support democracy at workplaces while ensuring that employees’ welfare is prioritized. HRM departments (to tap the positive influence of social media) should adopt the culture of sharing, innovation, and engagement of employees.


Globalization has highly impacted HRM in many countries. Many firms are operating beyond the political boundaries of the countries of their origin. Employment of foreigners and different labor regulations in different countries are some of the globalization factors that will continue influencing the future HRM.


Human resource management (HRM) continues to be an integral part of organizational management. HRM is relevant in harnessing employees’ abilities, qualifications, knowledge, and skills while employing them to attain organizational objectives and goals. HRM as a discipline has evolved. Also, HRM is likely to experience changes in the future due to current and possible management and economic trends.

Some of the key elements of HRM discussed in this paper include job design; recruitment and selection; training and development; workforce planning; performance management and remunerations/compensation.


The following are some of the recommendations that are pertinent to HRM.

  1. HRM departments should embrace technological development and changes for survival.
  2. HRM departments should put more emphasis on employees’ motivation and job appropriateness to improve performance and ensure business survival.
  3. HRM should be sensitive to emerging issues and trends and seek adaptation techniques.


Abid, A. M., Sarwar, A., Imran, K., Jabbar, A., & Hannan, A. (2013). Effect of Job Design on Employee Satisfaction (A Study of Fertilizer Companies Listed in Lahore Stock Exchange). European Journal of Business and Management, 5(19), 1-8.

Aslam, H. D., Aslam, M., Ali, N., Habib, B., & Jabeen, M. (2013). A Historical View of Human Resource Management Practice: Literature Review. International Journal of Human Resource Studies, 3(2), 126-137.

Australian Human Resource Institute. (2016). Remuneration and Rewards. Web.

Dagdeviren, O. (2015). Creative Hiring: The Pinnacle Model for Spontaneous, Imaginative, Collaborative Interviews Kindle Edition. Ozan Dagdeviren.

Dias, L. P. (2011). Human Resource Management. Washington, D.C.: FlatWorld Knowledge.

Gibson, C., Ziskin, I., & Boudreau, J. (2014). What Is the Future of HR? Web.

Gupta, N., & Shaw, J. D. (2014). Employee Compensation: The neglected area of HRM research. Human Resource Management Review, 24(2014), 1-4.

Hafeez, U., & Akbar, W. (2015). “Impact of Training on Employees Performance”(Evidence from Pharmaceutical Companies in Karachi, Pakistan). Business Management and Strategy, 6(1), 49-64. Web.

Kumar, S. N., & Kumar, S. S. (2014). Advancement of Human Resource Management with Cloud Computing. International Journal of Research in Engineering Technology and Management, 1-6.

Louch, P. (2014). Workforce Planning Is Essential to High-Performing Organizations. Web.

Mills, R. W. (2016). Workforce Planning: The specialist map. British Dental Journal 220, 221 (2016).

Omolo, J. W., Oginda, M. N., & Oso, W. Y. (2012). Effect of Recruitment and Selection of Employees on The Performance of Small and Medium Enterprises in Kisumu Municipality, Kenya. International Journal of Human Resource Studies, 2(3), 140-150. Web.

People Streme Human Capital Management. (2013). What is Employee Performance Management ? Web.

Shih, H.-S. (2005). Recruitment and Selection Processes Through an Effective GDSS *. Computers & Mathematics with Applications, 50, 1543–1558. Web.

Sinclair, A. (2004). Workforce Planning: a literature review. Retrieved from Institute for Employment Studies.

Smith, S., & Mazin, R. (2011). The HR Answer Book: An Indispensable Guide for Managers and Human Resources Professionals / Edition 2. New York: AMACOM Books.

Syedain, H. (2010). Workforce Planning. Web.

Truitt, D. L. (2011). The Effect of Training and Development on Employee Attitude as it Relates to Training and Work Proficiency. SAGE Open, 1-13. Web.

Ullah, M. (2010). A Systematic Approach of Conducting Employee Selection Interview. International Journal of Business and Management, 5(6), 106-112.

Zareen, M., Razzaq, K., & Mujtaba, B. G. (2013). Job Design and Employee Performance: the Moderating Role of Employee Psychological Perception. European Journal of Business and Management, 5(5), 46-55.

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