( Originally Published Early 1900's )
The ultimate success of any business is to a great extent de-pendent upon its employees. Upon their proper selection and consequent performance and satisfaction is based the producing power of that business, whether goods or service is the particular product with which it deals. And as the success of the individual business is determined by its employees, so, too, is industry as a whole affected by those who carry out its processes. If labor so greatly influences business, it is necessary that the question of the selection of men and of their treatment during the period of employment be considered scientifically. By "scientifically" is not meant "cold-bloodedly," as some people imagine. On the contrary, employment management is a most humanizing factor in industry. But it is scientific, because it is based on accurate research and deduction, and does not permit itself to be influenced by irrelevant considerations.
Employment management is one of the newest professions. The business man used to employ rather indifferent and inefficient methods in securing his employees, and, once they were secured, he made no special efforts to increase their usefulness to themselves and to the business. Modern employment management is concerned with the selection of the right man for the right job, with his education into greater usefulness, with interesting him in his work and giving him a feeling of satisfaction in his employment. Where there is satisfaction of the employee, there is greater stability of labor. A large "labor turnover"—which means a shifting of employees, due to the leaving of some, and the employment of new men which this necessitates—is a source of great expense in business. By reducing the labor turn over, and increasing the efficiency and happiness of employees, employment management renders service to the employer and workman alike.
The fact that employment management consists not only of the selection of workers, but also of their development, means that it is an exceedingly broad field, in which several different types of executive are needed. Some of the problems with which the personnel or employment department of any business must deal are those of analyzing jobs, placing men in the proper places, promoting employees, determining wages and carrying on welfare and educational work. It can readily be seen that no one man could, in a business of any size, undertake the supervision of all the activities connected with employment management, so in many cases the work of the personnel department is carried on by several divisions, as the employment, educational, medical, welfare and research divisions. Each of these divisions may be headed by a director who is an expert in his special field, and who, while concerned chiefly with the duties of his own position, yet coordinates his work with that of the other divisions.
The employment director attends to the hiring of men, to their placing in the proper positions, to their transfer, promotion, discipline, compensation and discharge. For this work he must have a good working knowledge of the processes of the business, and of the jobs for which he is to select men. In choosing employees, he will avail himself of the new methods of testing the fitness and adaptability of applicants, by means of application blanks, mental tests, trade tests, physical examination and personal inter-view; and in promoting and discharging he will make use of records of the employee's ability and service. It is the duty of the employment director to know also how and where to reach out for labor, and so he must be familiar with economic conditions, and with the state of the labor market. For his work he must, of course, have a keen mind, excellent powers of analysis, tact, a knowledge of human nature and a fully developed sense of justice. As his work includes the promoting and discharging of employees, these duties, especially, will necessitate a sense of fairness on his part.
The educational director has charge of the training department of the business. Nowadays industry is so specialized that it is in many cases necessary to train workers for their jobs after they have already been hired. The educational director makes accurate job analyses, and then devises courses of study to fit workers for these positions. For his work he needs not only a broad knowledge of industry and commerce, but also of the principles of pedagogy.
The welfare division sees to it that employees are physically cared for, that their opportunities for recreation, their housing and general living conditions are good—in fact, that all the conditions of their social life are conducive to their wellbeing. The research department is investigative and advisory in character. In this department jobs are analyzed; improvements in personnel methods suggested; causes of fatigue, absence and other similar conditions ascertained; and work helpful to all the other divisions of the employment department undertaken.
It will be seen that the director of each of these divisions must be technically expert in his own field, but certain common qualifications are essential for successful effort in any one of the departments mentioned. The man who undertakes any sort of employment management work must be big and broad in his sympathies, with a knowledge of human nature in general, and with sufficient analytic and deductive ability to get at the thoughts, emotions, ambitions and desires of the individuals with whom he deals; for if he can acquire a knowledge of the men with whom and for whom he works, he will be able materially to increase their efficiency and their happiness. He must, in order to be successful in his work, be tactful, of pleasing personality, enthusiastic, energetic and a "good mixer." In order to get to know his men, he must be able to meet them on their own level, be a good listener and an intuitive one. Justness and common sense are also exceedingly necessary qualities in dealing with men, and the employment manager should have a full measure of both.
As he needs a large number of natural qualifications for successful work, so, too, the man in this field must have a large store of knowledge. In whatever particular subdivision he works, he must have a thorough knowledge of economics, be familiar with all phases of the labor movement and must keep in active touch with the industrial, economic and social conditions of the day. He needs, too, some knowledge of psychology, should be familiar with the processes of the business for which he works, and must have a comprehensive knowledge of the newest methods of personnel administration.
It is very desirable that the personnel worker have a college education, and in some cases, as, for instance, in the educational and research departments, this is absolutely essential. In college, he may be expected to gain a broad, general knowledge on which later to found his more specialized studies for the work of employment management. The profession is so new that, until now, many employment managers were drawn from executive positions of various sorts, where they had shown ability in handling men. Recently, however, the scientific development of the field of employment management has led to the establishment in a number of universities of courses which are specially intended to train men for work in this field. These are usually given in connection with courses in commerce or Business Administration.
The young man who has taken such courses must not expect to emerge from them a full fledged employment manager. Actual experience in industry and in dealing with men must first be acquired. This the young man may obtain by accepting a subordinate position in whatever business he wishes to associate himself with, and by working himself up from that position. Some college students work during the summer vacation, and other men take evening extension courses in a university, while holding a position. In both these ways theoretical and practical training may be combined.
The cost of a college education and of supplementary and more specialized courses in employment management may vary from none at all to several thousand dollars. There are numerous state colleges and universities where a broad education may be obtained free of charge, and there are, of course, other schools where tuition fees are rather high. More specific information may be obtained by application to the institutions themselves.
The employment manager's work will offer him satisfaction in many ways. First of all, it is highly paid work, for its great importance has impressed itself upon industry. Then it is work which offers opportunity for the exercise of a high order of executive ability, and which deals with many fascinating problems in business and human relations. It is difficult and exacting work, but at the same time varied and interesting. The employment manager will find many a chance for real service, for not only does he carry out all the functions of his position but very often he succeeds in acting as an understanding mediator between employer and employees, for he, more so than any other man, has an intimate knowledge of conditions as they affect these two classes.
BENGE, EUGENE J.: "Standard Practice in Personnel Work," The H. W. Wilson Co., New York, 1920.
BLOOMFIELD, DANIEL, (Ed.) : "Selected Articles on Employment Management," The H. W. Wilson Co., New York, 1919.
SCOTT, WALTER DILL: "Science and Common Sense in Working with Men," The Ronald Press Co., New York, 1921.
SCOTT, WALTER DILL, and CLOTHIER, ROBERT C.: "Personnel Management :
Principles, Practices, and Point of View," A. W. Shaw Co., Chicago, 1924.
SHEFFERMAN, NATHAN W.: "Employment Methods," The Ronald Press Co., New York, 1920.
SIMONS, ALGIE M.: "Personnel Relations in Industry," The Ronald Press Co., New York, 1921.
TEAD, ORDWAY, and METCALF, H. C.: "Personnel Administration; Its Principles and Practice," McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc., New York, 1920.
Factory, A. W. Shaw Co., Chicago.
Management and Administration, The Ronald Press Co., New York. System, A. W. Shaw Co., Chicago.