Gwen Cheermore is the Human Resources Manager at Our Company. In the good old days, like say the twentieth century, the Human Resources (HR) department was tucked under Purchasing or Plant Maintenance along with the company nurse. The human resources staff administered the company benefits plan and did the paperwork associated with the hiring and firing of personnel. HR people never moved from their cubicles and were closeted away in a far-off corner of the building.
Today, for reasons nobody can quite remember, employees are looked upon as valuable resources. It’s now de rigueur to re-train employees in response to changing technologies rather than fire them and hire a new set with the required skills. The new role of the HR department is to help employees manage their careers and to deal with stress both at home and in the workplace. It’s almost impossible to fire an employee these days. Instead, companies are obliged to make them well. This emphasis on career development and core values, however, is thought by many to be the prime reason that North American companies have lost their competitive edge. Despite this, employees have more individual power than ever before and, as a result, the human resources function is given a place of prominence in the organization. In a profession once dominated by women, some Human Resource professionals today are actually heterosexual males. What a strange century this is.