Over on Ragan's HR Communication today is an article entitled 12 most dehumanizing buzzwords to ditch. The first two? "Resource" and "Human Capital".
Resource: ...If the resource you're referring to breathes air, talks and has a name, it is best not to use the word "resource."
Really? Organisations are not under the impression that their employees don't have lives outside of work, or that they are any way less than "human". But let's not kid ourselves - employees are resources for the organisations they work for. Otherwise, they wouldn't be employed (or at least, not for long). It's not dehumanizing to state the obvious.
Number two on the list was "Human Capital".
The people who spend 40-plus hours a week working for a company are more valuable than this term implies. A company can't survive without people.
The term "Human Capital" actually frames employees as asset, despite accounting treating them as an expense item in the chart of accounts. If anything, the term is asking organisations to consider their employees as investments.
Yes, it might be dehumanizing to say:
your residual value has been written off in our chart of accounts
...But nobody's doing that. Organisations and leaders do actually understand that people go home at the end of the day, have families and friends, have motivations, ambitions, and emotions. Nobody is likening people to paperclips.
It's time to get away from arguments about whether or not employees are valuable resources. That argument has been won - time and time again. Whether it's the old-school "personnel", "human resources", "human capital", "people and culture", or "talent management"... it doesn't really matter what we call ourselves. What matters is how effectively we use the resources we have, including the human ones, to deliver results.