Where as in some countries, notably Australia, South Africa and the UK, the personnel management function arrived more slowly and came from a number of routes. Moreover, its orientation was not entirely managerial. The history of personnel management can be trace back to the 19th century.
In 1833, it was referred to as Industrial welfare, where the factories act stated that there should be male factory inspectors. Around the end of the 19th century saw the legislation of working hours to regulate the hours of work for children and women by having a 60 hour week and the formation of trade unions for collective bargaining.Welfare officers (sometimes called ‘welfare secretaries’) then came into being.
They were women and concerned only with the protection of women and girls. Their creation was a reaction to the harshness of industrial conditions, coupled with pressures arising from the extension of the franchise, the influence of trade unions and the labour movement, and the campaigning of enlightened employers, often Quakers, for what was called ‘industrial betterment’. As the role grew there was some tension between the aim of moral protection of women and children and the needs for higher output.The First World War accelerated change in the development of personnel management, with women being recruited in large numbers to fill the gaps left by men going to fight, which in turn meant reaching agreement with trade unions (often after bitter disputes) about ‘dilution’– accepting unskilled women into craftsmen’s jobs and changing manning levels. In 1916, the appointment of welfare workers was made compulsory in Ministry controlled establishments and by the end of World War 1, it has been estimated that around 1000 welfare workers had been appointed.