HR Timeline from 4 Billion BC to Present
The Great Pyramids; Another HR Success Story
4,000,000,000 BC; Primordial Soup, Africa – A single-celled organism named Bob was appointed HR director for a group of amoebas. He formed them into a cohesive team which developed into the world’s first multi-cellular organism. This entity eventually evolved into human beings and possibly wombats.
1,200,000,000 BC; HR Bob’s progeny introduced the concept of sexual reproduction to the world; fostering faster evolution toward becoming the human race. This new reproductive strategy was immediately banned from the workplace.
580,000,000 BC; HR directors across the scarcely populated multi-cellular landscape introduce two new qualifications necessary to get a job as a proto-mammal; nerves and muscle. Muscle cells were instantly put into shipping and receiving jobs while the leadership paths were saved for those cells who really had a nerve.
15,000,000 BC; Great Apes, or, “Hominidae” were first introduced. It was at a job fair in the African interior. They were highly prized by management for their social skills, communication abilities and snappy grooming habits.
10,000,000 BC; Hominid Resources Managers began to discriminate against gorillas in favour of the new primates on the block; chimps, bonobos and a beta version of modern man.
3,600,000 BC; HR specialists in northern Tanzania begin demanding certification from employment candidates that they meet Australopithecus standards or their equivalency. There is much controversy over these policies resulting in the move being panned by the Neanderthal lobby.
1,800,000 BC; Gronk Browslope becomes the first HERG, Homo-Erectus Resources Generalist. He is famous for developing the concept of “head hunting” and standing straight up without having his knuckles dragging on the ground; a skill still much sought after in modern times for all employees.
200,000 BC; Modern humans are introduced to the workforce. With their love of travel, they spread out of Africa and throughout Europe. It produces the first appearance of both “the business trip” and ‘the expense account”.
170,000 BC; Clothing one in animal skins is pioneered. HR departments send out a new policy statement demanding all employees adhere to the new policy and wear clothes to work. This has been a pretty good rule ever since.
30,000 BC; The Stone Age begins as rock flaking becomes a requirement for even entry-level jobs.
26,000 BC; Cloth is invented. HR managers encourage the use of the new material over animal hides for making clothing items to get Proto-PETA off their back. It also kept the blowflies down.
25,000 BC; Neanderthals die out, being lousy at job interviews and resume writing.
11,000 BC; HR Directors’ efforts lead to the domestication of pigs, sheep, goats and interns. The interns were a popular stock animal as they could be made to do things the other domesticated animals refused and the tribe wouldn’t get as emotionally attached to them.
10,000 BC; HR recommends diversifying operations by adding barley cultivation to hunting and gathering operations. This is solely due to the accidental invention of beer which brought joy throughout the corporate world. This single discovery is often credited with kickstarting the civilization of man (and some women, though most preferred proto-vodka).
7000 BC; The invention of the wheel is instantly co-opted by HR to create the first treadmill.
5500 BC; Writing becomes a thing, followed closely by the invention of HR reports which are filed without ever being read.
3500 BC; The first calendar is invented. There were no stat holidays to factor in as those who didn’t work a day went hungry.
3499 BC; The first desk blotter/calendar is invented using sabre-tooth gopher skin. Though not as sponge-like as a modern blotter, it was okay since ink hadn’t been invented yet.
3000 BC; Stonehenge construction began with 100,000 labourers and one HR manager. It is about the same ratio as workers to HR FTE today.
1800 BC; First alphabet invented. It would take another 3600 years for the alphabet song to be written. HR managers jump on the new invention for grading employees.
1750 BC; The Code of Hammurabi is written and hailed as the first HR policy manual covering, among other issues, minimum wages, craftsmen’s obligations to their apprentices and the punishment for casting vexatious curses upon fellow workers.
800 BC; Greek city-states are invented, followed closely by city-state labour unions. HR departments worldwide ignored the development as it was all Greek to them.
776 BC; First Olympic Games are held. All athletes compete nude, but ‘chunk of meat’ vendors were still required to wear clothing, upholding the millennia-old policy, much to everyone’s relief.
508 BC; Democracy is invented in Athens. The concept is immediately rejected by all known HR managers alive at the time.
427 BC; Plato is born. HR departments immediately adopt platonic relationships as the only acceptable business relationship model available. “Dipping one’s quill in the company ink” still retains its popularity, however.
300 BC; Worlds largest pyramid is built… in Cholula, Mexico. It is rumoured to be the first project outsourced to a foreign nation. It is theorized Egyptian HR consultants were used in the construction. And UFO’s.
221 BC; Great Wall of China begins construction. It is recognized as the greatest achievement by an HR department in history. Some claim HR has been building walls for employers ever since.
42 AD; Rome conquers Britain forcing HR departments to institute first racial diversity programs.
100 AD; Pliny The Elder introduces the first HR safety manual detailing the hazards of handling zinc and sulphur. His suggestion of wearing protective masks made of animal bladders is the first incidence of Personal Safety Equipment being the responsibility of the employee. The bladder idea was adopted far more widely than the steel-toed sandal idea Pliny also had.
1556 AD; Georg Bauer, writing under the pseudonym, Georgius Agricola, writes “De re Metallica”; a policy manual for mine workers. It is the first industry-specific HR manual. Ironically, all miners were illiterate at this time.
1700 AD; Bernardo Ramazzini published the first book on industrial medicine in his health coverage manual, “De Morbis Artificum Diatribe” (“The Diseases of Workmen”) People instantly stop shaking Ramazzini's hand fearing disease transmission.
1901 AD; The Factory Act is adopted in England setting forth the first minimum working age which was 12, same as their current drinking age.
1911 AD; American F. W. Taylor publishes “Principals of Scientific Management” which is arguably the first ever treatise on ergonomics and was the forerunner of the now widely-adopted practise of micro-management.
1914 AD; World War 1 was instituted. HR managers were not deemed important enough to escape the draft like farmers were. A mass exodus of HR specialists to agricultural work immediately took place. They were a hit with the farming community as they are already skilled at separating the wheat from the chaff.
1919 AD; Workers are actively encouraged to join labour unions by government authorities. The three martini lunch is invented by HR staff shortly after.
1926 AD; “Labour Managers” are hired to handle the British General Strike of 1926. They are the forerunner of modern HR Managers but had more discretion in hiring knee-capping goon squads to deal with obstreperous employees than they do now.
1942 AD; The term, “Personnel Manager”, is coined. It was abandoned later due to no one being able to remember if it was spelled with two n’s or two l’s.
1961 AD; The first instance of the term “Human Resources Manager” is used and quickly adopted industry-wide; being so much easier to spell.
2004 AD; The “Human Relations” movement is founded which “argues that people are not just logical decision makers but have needs for creativity support, recognition and self-affirmation.” Management would have been amused by the position if they had ever read the report.
Present AD; HR develops into a difficult, lonely, thankless job, vilified by those above and those below. HR specialists decide en masse that being replaced by HR software might not be so bad after all.