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The Science of Human Resources

18 September 2018

To have a decent human resources department, you need staff that are trained in the science of human resources. It’s hard to overstate how important a good human resources department is to creating a company that can adapt and improve continually, giving them that all-important competitive edge. A good HR manager needs to be intuitive, well-versed in human psychology and group psychology to get the ball rolling.

Before the development of human relations theory, workplaces tended to treat workers as disposable cogs in the machine, more charitably called Taylorism. Employee motivation wasn’t as important as overall production, which could be easily measured in the heavy industries that dominated the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, this approach to HR resulted in workers burning out or being fired, creating a high employee turnover in these industries, and Taylorism was poorly implemented in many service-focused industries. Entire economies, such as the various nations of the Eastern Bloc were planned around a similar system, producing disastrous results.

The problem wasn’t Scientific Management itself, but the way it was implemented. The namesake of Taylorism, Frederick Taylor, was famous for his open contempt of his workers, comparing them to draft animals in discussions about his methods. A significant rework of Taylorism mixed with Human Relations Theory has produced a more workable and less offensive system that most HR departments now use. However, the rise of Taylorism also saw the rise of Unionism and Worker’s Rights as a direct response. Long after the 1890s, Taylor’s work is considered an ultimately damaging system that simply tried to eke more work from employees, impacting their motivation and health, but it ultimately contributed to the science of Human Resources

What we consider Human Resources today is vastly different to what was practiced 120 years ago. While there are still new things to learn about psychology, we can all agree on a number of things: that employee motivation is important, and employees shouldn’t be burning out at their desks. At the Change Consultancy, we’re excited about taking new technology, methods and workplace philosophy to reinvigorate companies and get them running at maximum efficiency in an age where company change is fast and confusing.

Ryan Shotton