From Industrial Relations to Human Resource Management: The Changing Role of the Personnel Function

Publication date: 23 Jul 2008 | Publication type: NIESR Discussion Paper | Theme: Trade, Investment & Productivity, Employment & Social policy | External Author(s): Guest, D. and Bryson, A. | JEL Classification: J50; L25; M12 | NIESR Discussion Paper Number: 315

The evidence from 25 years of the Workplace Employment Relations Surveys shows that a growing number of workplaces have a personnel specialist in place and that an increasing proportion of these specialists have relevant qualifications. Personnel management is becoming more embedded and more professionalised. It is reasonable to assume that personnel specialists are hired to apply contemporary best practice and thereby, perhaps indirectly, to improve performance. Our analysis fails to support this assumption. Personnel specialists are more likely to be associated with traditional industrial relations practices rather than human resource practices. Yet, on the basis of ratings that they have provided, where more human resource practices are in place, performance is more highly rated. Moreover, where personnel specialists are present, including qualified specialists, performance tends, if anything, to be poorer.

Keyword tags: 
personnel specialist, human resource management, quits, industrial action, labour productivity