5 Ways HR Departments Have Changed in the 21st Century

Human resource departments have continually experienced major changes over the years. However, certain HR departments are still trying to catch up to the 21st century. Continue reading to learn more about the five ways that modern HR departments have changed.

Anti-discrimination Laws

Previously, when HR departments hired for new positions, they simply had to advertise an opening and then quickly hire a qualified candidate. Today, HR departments must carefully monitor how they advertise, interview and hire candidates. This is a result of federal regulations, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and The Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

An innocent question regarding marital status or gender orientation during an interview could result in a discrimination lawsuit. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigates complaints and enforces anti-discrimination laws. HR professionals not only need diversity training, but must ensure that supervisors and managers receive regular diversity awareness training.

Value Added Service

HR departments don’t just hire employees and perform menial administrative tasks. HR departments are now at the center of business operations because they are a primary source of value-added services. For example, HR departments can drastically change the quality of service or production through their hiring and retention selections.

HR professionals also have access to vast amounts of big data that can be analyzed in order to improve every aspect of business operations. In fact, data analytics allow HR professionals to highlight strengths and areas for improvement. Finally, the HR department can help the company cut costs through negotiating the best prices for benefits and training.

The War for Talent

Regardless of the current economic conditions, there is always a war for talent. Most job markets are oversaturated with employees transitioning between trying to either move up, move out or even move away to a different location.

HR departments not only have to sift through hundreds of candidates, but they must fight to retain the best and brightest talent. Some companies even focus on discretely persuading, or blatantly stealing, their competitor’s highest-performing employees. Compensation offerings and negotiations are now major parts of the continual recruitment and retention cycles.

Job Postings

Previously, all a company needed to do was post a ‘help wanted’ sign in their window. However, modern HR departments must now go through a laborious process to find the best candidate. Oftentimes, this involves internet recruiting. Today, HR departments can utilize popular job search websites, such as Indeed.com or Monster.com, to post a job advertisement that will result in hundreds of responses. As a result, HR professionals now typically only spend less than a minute glancing over each resume. Luckily, there are excellent software programs that can automatically scan and search for the best candidates.


Many HR departments still rely on a paper filing system. However, companies today must manage multiple sources of HR-related information. For example, HR professionals now may possibly deal with insurance enrollments, vacation requests, 401(k) adjustments and even safety procedure updates. HR professionals simply do not have the time to simultaneous process and track HR data for hundreds of employees. Therefore, human resource information systems (HRIS) have quickly developed to become the new IT standard for HR professionals. HRIS programs allow HR professionals to manage a variety of business activities, such as payroll, benefits and staffing. HRIS systems provide better tracking, reporting and management of employee information.

In the end, the role of human resources has been transformed through major social and technological changes. The process of interviewing, hiring and retaining employees is totally different. Luckily, there are advantageous software programs, including an HRIS system, that can help HR professionals successfully perform their duties.

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