The language you use in the workplace can shine a light on your organization’s value system and beliefs. The term “Human Resources” is so common that most organizations simply adopt it without giving it a second thought. As the organization grew large enough to need a full-time department to handle recruitment, on-boarding, benefits administration, and the like, that department was named “Human Resources” because that is just the way it is done everywhere else.
Luckily, this term is so common that employees don’t give it much thought either, because when you think about it, there is a very negative implication. Calling the department that looks after the people in your organization “Human Resources” implies that people are just resources, like a natural resource you would mine out of the ground or cut from a forest, consume, and then get some more when you have used it all up. Emerging terms like “Human Capital Management” are even worse in my opinion. The term “Human Capital Management” says: “You are just capital to us and need to be managed coldly just like we manage money and if we can cut you back, we will.”
Why not just say it like it is? Call it the “People” or “Human Department” and give the leader a proper title. At IBEX we call it the “People and Culture Department” and the leader – Raissa – is the “Head of People and Culture”. I think this sends a strong message about how our organization feels about people.