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Human Resources Managers


Prior to the 20th century, a company's owner usually managed human resources–related duties. These generally included hiring and firing employees, managing company payroll, enforcing company policies, and resolving disputes and issues. In the early 20th century, though, many mom-and-pop businesses grew into medium and large firms with hundreds, if not thousands, of employees. At the same time, the growth of labor unions and the passage of government laws and regulations regarding employee welfare and rights made personnel management more challenging.

Many company owners soon realized they could not run the day-to-day operations of their companies while also managing personnel, dealing with labor negotiations, and complying with government regulations. Companies established personnel departments to deal with these responsibilities and staffed them with human resources specialists to manage all aspects of employee relations.

In 1948, the Society for Human Resource Management was founded to represent the professional interests of human resources workers, including HR managers. Since then it has grown into the world’s largest association devoted to HR management and represents more than 300,000 members in 165 countries.

Today personnel management is very complex. Laws governing health insurance, family leave, workplace discrimination and harassment, and other aspects of employment make professionals with expert knowledge essential. Companies continue to grow, expand internationally, and compete for top workers. At the same time, labor unions advocate for worker rights, and Congress passes new worker protection laws. These changing trends and requirements ensure a strong need for HR professionals in the future.

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