Human Resources or Human Responsibilities?

What if we changed human resources to human responsibilities? 

What comes to mind when you think of resources?

Maybe things that have utility, or that can be extracted, or even used up. Is that how you want to think about people you hire or work with?

In most cases, a resource is something you have a one-way or unilateral relationship with. You take and it demands nothing in return. 

The current human resource model that exists in the company of today is only about 100 years old. That’s right, just in time for the industrial revolution. What a coincidence. Or perhaps not. 

When the assembly line came of age and people were essentially interchangeable just like the parts on the machines they were working on, new HR departments were also being created. And the job of the HR department was to please or endear themselves to the factory owners or corporations they served, not the employees. 

But now that system is slowly but surely coming apart at the seams. As it should. If you’re an employer that still believes your HR department is only there to weed out unfit candidates or mitigate disputes between you and your employees, your time is limited. You just might not realize it yet. 

A few years from now, if there’s a line item on your balance sheet that says Human Resources, keep in mind that your employees will be thinking about moving to a company that doesn’t treat them like resources.

So, what to do?

Well, the first thing you could do is change the name of the department to Human Responsibility. 

While this might sound strange or even inconceivable at first, think about it for a moment. People live up to the labels you give them. So, the person or people you hire to run your human responsibility department will view candidates and employees as the company’s responsibility. 

We are beginning to learn from nature that the extraction method of taking resources out of the ground is causing huge challenges for us as a broader global community and that taking a more sustainable or regenerative approach is better for the earth and those living on it. 

So why not take the same approach towards people?

Let’s stop viewing people as resources to be used and discarded or even abandoned once depleted and take a more sustainable approach. Be as responsible to them as you expect them to be towards you and your organization. 

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Raj Daniels