How valuable are People?

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“…while extraordinary products and unique services still afford a competitive advantage, the one advantage that stands the test of time … is people.”  – Mark Salsbury

Something about the term “Human Resources” has always bothered me. It just seems to convey something that devalues people.


Definition of a Resource

A stock or supply of money, materials, staff, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person or organization in order to function effectively.

Something that can be used for support or help.

Something that can be used to increase wealth.

One of the consequences of the industrial revolution was an inordinate focus on division of labour, function and process. Everything became a resource, including people. We even created knowledge areas and departments called Human Resources. The name denotes the underlying thinking and speaks volumes about the attitude.

Some are now learning that the key component in on-going productivity is an understanding of, and the ability to manage relationships.

We do work for people, with people, and through people

Dehumanising people to the level of resources inevitably means they will end up being as unproductive as they can get away with.

If we have HR departments, we can make statements like “Our people are our most valuable asset”, but they will always remain what we call them – a resource!