Today is Labor Day, but… do we really know its origin?
Let’s travel back in time. Specifically on May 1, 1886, in Chicago.
It has been 137 years since a group of North American trade unionists decided to demonstrate in the capital of the state of Illinois; a strike that lasted 3 days and in which an eight-hour working day was claimed and demanded.
Something fundamental today, right?
Well, despite the fact that there was a Law (Ingersoll) that recognized such a right, the strike ended with thousands of workers fired and injured, as well as with the well-known ‘Haymarket Revolt’, after which five workers were sent to the gallows.
In commemoration of this movement, the Socialist Workers Congress of the Second International declared this date a holiday since 1889.
And, coincidence or not, the origin of Human Resources is located around the same time.
During the Industrial Revolution, where mechanization and chain production began to predominate, the feeling of dissatisfaction took hold of the workers of the companies and factories. As a result of this, what were known as ‘Well-being Departments’ were born and the first measures regarding housing, health and staff schedules were applied.
In fact, it would be the economist John R. Commons who would make use of the term HR for the first time in his book Distribution of Wealth, in 1894.
So when did companies begin to see their workers as ‘assets’ within the business? We must go back to 1910-1920, a time when the first offices oriented towards employee management emerged and when the term HR became popular.
Despite this, the focus was on compensation, disciplinary actions, hiring and firing, productivity analysis…
Each time a greater number of social functions would be fulfilled, but with a clear authoritarian tone.
The last significant leap, before reaching the present, is the 70s and 80s, where psychological and sociological factors are already taken into account, together with performance; just as priority is being given to the process of adaptation to the organization, independence and improvement of the climate.
And then… Then comes the Digital Revolution.
Despite its name, this Revolution is not just about technology. We are talking about a paradigm shift in: consumer behavior, the economy, innovation and, without a doubt, experience.
Yes, the experience of both the customer and the employee. And it is that organizations must put special focus on their culture and their people, who care about more than just their payroll; I am referring to their job satisfaction and happiness, their aspirations, their relationships, their work environment…
If all this new era needed a final ingredient, in 2020 the pandemic arrived and with it, the emergence of new tools that respond to current needs: AI software for staff recruitment, People Analytics platforms, day-to-day gamification employee day, wearables against stress and health measurement, the metaverse for virtual meetings or channels for communication and performance evaluation through Tokenization, such as BonusBank.
Today I wanted to take a short walk through the history of an area that is becoming increasingly important in our organizations and that I hope we will value. Happy day to all the workers and workers, also to the mothers and to you, who read this article.
Víctor Barcelón, co-founder of BonusBank.