Monday, March 17, 2008

"HR" Should Go

"Human Resources" is such a warm title. It has a Stalinist Five Year Plan sort of ring to it that must comfort every walking, sitting, or cringing resource in the organization.

It was supposedly an improvement over "Personnel" although for the life of me I could never understand why. At least you could visit Personnel without the sense that you were about to see an excavation project.

The term also has a yearning aspect, much like the towel boy who boasts about being on the men's varsity team. "We're just as tough as Operations," the term seems to say, "and since we deal with resources, we aren't easily ignored or outsourced." (Dream on.)

For the umpteenth time I'll propose dropping HR and simply going with Recruitment and Development. You can pack a lot under that umbrella and yet it focuses on what HR/Personnel/Whatever folks really do.

And it doesn't evoke the slightest memory of metallurgy.


Jeff said...

I've wondered - does "Human Resources" advocate for the company or for the employee? I know that might be counter-intuitive since assisting one assists the other...but back in the day, when you visited "Personnel" you felt you had a fair ear to listen to your problems/issues. With "Human Resources" it appears as if you're dealing with the corporate legal department - and a highly defensive one at that.
Should "human" be part of "human resources"?

Michael Wade said...


HR makes a major mistake when it simply turns into a paralegal for the organization. Doing so causes it to lose credibility with the employees and ultimately results in short-term gains and long-terms losses.

Your point about "human" should be discussed at every HR conference. I know excellent HR directors who stress that and others who are completely indifferent to the concerns of the employees.