As an HR professional I find the term 'human resource management' quite disturbing.
Yes, day in and day out I use it to describe the related department, the qualification I studied, the professional body to which I am affiliated, the workforce, my profile on LinkedIn, etc, but somewhere deep down inside, each time I hear or use the term it makes me think that the essence of what it entails is being undermined. I am filled with an inexplicable sense of guilt for not challenging it. To call human beings in all their wonder simply a 'resource' is demeaning and makes me picture the movie 'Ben Hur' and the hundreds of slaves in uniforms straining every sinew to keep the ship assail. Maybe I am taking things to the other extreme, but it gives me the feeling that human beings are being taken for a 'resource' that can simply be bought and sold at a price. Although this may to some extent be true in practical terms, and is to do with the laws of demand and supply and how the so called 'Labour market' (another term I am not too comfortable with) functions, the thought makes me very uncomfortable. I find in it, a real sense of emotional and spiritual deficit.
True that every employee is paid a wage and benefits in exchange for the work they do, and yet there is so much more to humans who can never truly have all their effort, creativity, insights and passion finitely evaluated with numeric values imprinted against their profiles. The last I remember, human beings had spirits and emotions that deserve to be respected. Talking of them as resources irks me.
I know this debate has been running for many years but little has changed, and with finance increasingly driving the agenda with various austerity measures some would say we are even going backwards. So today I would like to propose something different, something fairer and perhaps ground-breaking for our profession. I would like to rename the term 'Human Resource Management' to a more sensitive 'Employee Management'. Everyone working for a company, including people in the HR department itself are employees. To use the term 'employee management' gives me a feeling of having a sudden gush of fresh air in my suffocating lungs. It seems to encapsulate what I have been trying to communicate to staff for a long time now - that we are here to help and support you in doing the best work of your lives. We are not here to cut your wages for no obvious reason, to be difficult, or discipline you without reason.
I appreciate in one way it is only a change in words, but deeper it is much more than that and a signal for something far more significant about the power and significance of our humanity. So who knows, this may be the first tiny step in changing the hard, dry image of the Human Resource Department prevalent in most places. As they say, 'Well begun is half done'. :)