A letter to the editor: the new HRM - without the 'H'

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The Editor

Human Capital Magazine

The New HRM - Without The H

I am curious about the origins of the trend to replace human resource management with the management of resources in general; ditching the reference to homo sapiens, and blending our discipline with the management of resources such as capital, soil, equipment, buildings, groundwater, spare parts, fish, gas and anything else that might be needed as an input to any form of purposeful activity. Without the H, we are at risk of being depleted, exploited, beneficiated or even elaborately transformed.

At least in the mining industry we have evolved specific forms of resource such as mineral resources (as opposed to reserves) that may be indicated, inferred or measured.All adding clarity to our endeavours.

I know people can be frustrating to manage, mobilise, shortlist, engage, discipline, terminate, develop, organise, counsel, converseand liaise withetc; but I really don’t think it’s an option for HR practitioners, to simply drop the H, and expect to be understood let alone respected as the legitimate discipline we strive to be.

I’m just a little curious as to what trend setting,flash of brilliance inspired this wonderful innovation. Surely the academic or consulting fad machines haven’t depleted their resources (or is it reserves?) to that extent!

Alan ‘arrison


PS This is not the view of my employer or anyone else I know or would admit to knowing me!

  • Lisa on 5/04/2012 2:26:26 PM

    I agree with Alan and for some time have been wondering 'has HR lost its heart?'

    In the push for HR professionals to demonstrate their commercial acumen and 'understand the business' it would seem the pendulum has swung to the extreme at the expense of the people side and our associated role as humanity guardian.

  • Bree Vreedenburgh on 11/04/2012 3:44:37 PM

    Personally, I despise the "R" in HR - I understand why its there, but I think the move from Personnel to Human Resources was when the paradigm shift began from our industry being a people-focussed one to a 'resources'-focussed one. I dislike being thought of as merely another resource for a company to exploit.
    Having said that, I'm not sure I agree with Lisa - the push for HR professionals to develop commercial acumen is supposed to be in order to better align HR strategies with overall business strategies - not for those HR professionals to become cold, hard business analysts. But in true human style, we find it difficult to find middle-ground.

  • Bernie Althofer on 12/04/2012 11:12:53 AM

    I note that there are some consultancy firms who talk about people and culture, not HR and Culture. I suspect that this approach recognises the people factor in organisations.

    Whilst some might have a preference towards the word 'resource', it seems to relegate people to being a commodity or an object to be sold, traded or moved (sometimes at a whim). Perhaps it is the conversation that has to be conducted.

    In the past, it has been suggested that about 90% of an organisational budget is expended on people. Given this issue, I wonder whether or not referring to people as a 'resource' has taken the importance away from people management (thoughts, feelings, emotions etc) and replaced it with resources (no thoughts, feelings or emotional responses as to how a 'resource' might respond)? I often wonder whether or not a reversion back to being people focussed would go a long way in addressing issues such as workplace conflict, bullying, performance management etc?

  • Ashish D on 15/04/2012 2:09:20 PM

    Though we are happy with the term HR and would passionate like to deal with it. Considering the thought shared above I also feel that people should be treated as capital resource rather than one addition to the other resources viz. "M's ( Material, Money....). Hence I love the term Human Capital Management which perhaps would focus on managing the skill set of the resource rather than the resource itself. We need to segregate them and then look at it more prudently to have a pragmatic view.

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