Is “Human Resources” a disrespectful phrase?

February 20, 2010 at 7:36 pm 2 comments

Is it demeaning or disrespectful to refer to the people in an organization as a “resource”? Does calling people a resource de-humanize them, and put living, breathing souls on the same plane as say, a building or a bulldozer?

I’m not saying that it does, but wonder what y’all think.

A company I used to work for renamed their “HR Department” their “People Department”, I’m sure in an effort to make it look like they valued their people more than their pens & pencils – but I’m not so sure that just changing the name of their HR department to “People” had any effect; what *really* matters, is how an organization treats its people. (I don’t think that phrase has really caught on yet either, I haven’t seen too many other companies jump on the “People” bandwagon.)

When I started my career in whatever we call this, I worked in the “Personnel” Department, but I feel like that organization valued its people more than any organization I’ve been in since. The name of the department wasn’t what mattered; it was how their management treated us in that department AND the rest of the employees there.

Bottom line, I don’t think it matters *what* we call that function; what matters is how the ownership and management actually treat their most valuable resource, their people.

I welcome your comments and opinions.


Entry filed under: Human Resources (HR). Tags: , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Brandon  |  February 21, 2010 at 8:21 am

    I agree, the bottom line is in how they treat their people. Most places, including the school district I work for do indeed consider us a resource, and a readily renewable resource at that. Scott Adams covered it in The Dilbert Principle when he said to watch what the CEO does when his office chair or desk breaks. Does he wait until the next round of budgets and plan for it then or does he spend the money and reallocate more work to his “most valued” resource. Scott came to the conclusion he ranked just above a stapler or box of paper clips. Me, I personally rank just below paving a parking lot and above a gross of toilet paper.


  • 2. safinr  |  February 20, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    I am studying HR right now and something that i hear very often is “if you like people go do social work”. Fact is HR department is a part of the business and must be treated as such. “It’s not personal it’s business”. I think that this saying should symbolize the best approach to work.
    Yes we spend a lot of time at work, but keep it professional and dont get emotionally involved, dont get into real deep personal relationships with people at work. It will only cloud your judgment and lower your performance.
    So when I head that HR doesnt treat people like “people” (I assume it means on a personal level), I agree with HR. You got to do what you got to do. No hard feelings.



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