Changing Organizations HR Remix

Do You Want to Be An Employee?

Lately I’ve been struggling with the words we use to describe the people that work in our organizations:

– Employees

– Talent

– Staff

– Co-workers/workers

– Resources


Is it dehumanizing and  impersonal to refer to someone as a worker or an employee? Or a resource? How about when we divide employees into different camps: executives, managers, supervisors and the rest (employees)? Talk about an us versus them mentality!


Then add in some of HR’s other favorite catch phrases:

– Employee discipline

– Progressive discipline

The mindset of employees versus managers is a relic of our industrial past and doesn’t reflect  increasingly flatter organizations.

When we communicate with language from another era, is it any wonder that we have disengaged, cynical and unimaginative employees at some of our organizations? Do you want to be a resource? A worker? An employee?


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Keeping in mind that our business needs are no longer served by the industrial mindset of us vs. them….


What if we started referring to our employees as people? Or came up with a completely different term unique to our organizations? Google has Googlers.  SnagaJob has Snaggers. What can you call the people in your organization?


I realize some of us may not be in the position to rename our workforce. In some cases this verbiage is important to differentiate between different kinds of employees. But you and I, in our individual lives do not have to stick with that old, industrial, language.


Individually,  we can make a decision to humanize the language in our organizations. That is what I intend to do. I intend to use the word people, instead of employee as often as I can.


Our organizations need creative, hard-working and empowered people. They don’t need resources, employees, staff or workers. If we want the best people at our organizations we need to start treating them like people and the first step is updating our language.


Unhappy “employees”

Are you with me? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!


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