The History of Human Resources

It was the early 1900s. The National Cash Register Co. was going through an unprecedented number of strikes and employee lockouts. Manifesting displeasure at his employees’ dissatisfaction, it was then that the owner of NCR, one Mr. John Henry Patterson who decided to come up with something called a ‘Personnel Department’ to deal with grievances, discharges and safety. In doing so, he changed the way business was done. More and more companies started having a Personnel Department. In the 1910s, Tata Steel introduced a then unheard-of labor practice—the 8 hour work day; and the salaries of Ford’s employees were doubled, both under the Personnel Department’s supervision. Since then, there was no looking back.

Times changed, companies grew into conglomerates, and experienced rapid globalization and technological changes. Nobody is sure when and how, but ‘Human Resource’, a term coined by John R. Commons in 1893 began popping up by the 70's. Since then, this seemingly minute but enormous word has stuck around.

The impending demise of HR

At length, people begin to ask the fatal question— "What’s HR doing for us, anyway?"

The sense of doubt kicks in early in the career, albeit subconsciously, when one is referred to as a human resource. This plants a tiny, tiny idea in the subconscious, that one is not human, but a resource, less like finance or property but more like a machine, and the HR is here to oil them, grease them, fix the gears and spindles, and make them work.

People are not just data or numbers, people are sentient beings. Human Resource Management, as a term, is not adequate to describe these interactions. Meaning, that there is no way to predict or make guidelines to predict how a sentient being behaves. With the proliferation of the gig economy, more and more people are doing work that’s not aligned with traditional HR policy, and it doesn’t make them any lesser, or function any worse. At length, people begin to ask the fatal question— "What’s HR doing for us, anyway?"

Blue Sky and its decentralized HR

Before we get into advocating for the decentralized HR model, let's get one thing out of the way - there is a difference between HR managers and Talent Acquisition managers. More often than not, hiring is a complex task that not only requires a lot of leg work but also a thorough due diligence of the applicants and how they fit into the desired role. This makes the role of a Talent Acquisition manager indispensable for any organization including ours (Side note - we are actively looking to fill that indispensable role right now! Visit our Careers page).

HR however, is traditionally tasked with managing the employees, keeping them engaged, happy and motivated, while also interacting as an intermediary between the firm and the personnel.

So why is there no HR at Blue Sky Analytics?

Because there was no need. Let's demystify the mechanisms of a decentralized HR.

Illustration showing organizational efficiency
A decentralized model helps us achieve higher efficiency!

One of the primary role that HR plays in an organization is to induce interactions and build culture that encourages a conducive environment for increased productivity. However, a fundamental problem that obstructs this system from working seamlessly is the lack of familiarity of the employees with the HR. By internalizing this responsibility to the managers, whom the employees know and work with, we not only manage to counter that loophole but also allow for unforced interactions that lead to a more conducive work culture. Additionally, employees do not feel tied down by needless bureaucracy and time consuming processes.

Then there’s the approachability. A word of appreciation coming directly from the managers affects the employee's psyche a lot more that when when its passed on via the HR.

Direct feedback from the employees to the managers makes their lives easier too, which, in due course, accelerates conflict management as it shortens the feedback loop extensively. Ultimately building stronger relationships & bonds within the team, and increasing transparency throughout the organization.

No HR does not mean no policies, but having these policies developed organically rather than enforced, and written by people working more closely with the team than the HR. In fact, as part of the on-boarding experience, each employee is presented with a virtual employee handbook encapsulating all the policies and other details that they must be aware about. Be it the unique own your device policy or our quarterly retreats (yes, quarterly!), it's all in the handbook! Interestingly however, the handbook is always a work-in-progress document as at Blue Sky, we are always open to suggestions for improvements as we strive to further strengthen our employee experience.

The well being of a person is not a department’s task, it is everyone’s.

To make sure how your colleagues are doing, to keep checking up on them leads to a much welcome camaraderie between colleagues even if their departments will never clash on the work front. It is only ethical to check if the work environment is conducive, and distributing this responsibility across departments helps introduce a more uplifting and encouraging work culture throughout the organization.

Because “resources” don’t work at Blue Sky. People do.