Calling a human, a 'Resource'.... is it right?

Friday, January 13, 2012 , 12 Comments


From being a "personnel management" person and moving on to "Human resources management", it had been a very long association for me with employee employer relationship.

As a part of "personnel management", during early 90s, there were few not so hilarious moments, which now is hilarious to me, when I considered myself as an employer himself, as I represented the organisation and always called "We", when I spoke to everyone.  What I failed to see then, blame it on my tender age of 22, was Viji was an employee like the other 407 employees, 408 being my number and I lived to see another 821 people join, before I left the organisation. 

So why "human resources"? 

Coal is a resource, steel as well and now we have added human to it.  When I googled the term 'resources', I found amongst other natural resources, 'labor' was also added.  Shouldn't we think about considering HR as human relations rather than human resources? A resource is something that can be 'measured, divided, moved, sold, exploited, traded', would you like to be one?  No one likes to be called a resource, that too a "shadow" one at that. :)

 If you still want to continue calling fellow humans as resources, then probably you should think of addressing your family members as resources too...

Then on this Bhogi day, I should say... 

"It's Bhogi today, I got up early in the morning to see my "Kolam resource" (maid) putting rangoli before my house and was waiting for the "milk resource" to get me the milk packets... since, the senior most resources (mom and dad) were sleeping, I thought of not disturbing them and tip toed into the kitchen and boiled the milk for coffee. The most junior resource (my son) in my family wanted to go to a new film "Nanban" that got released two days back.  But, since all money was with this senior resource (my husband), I was not able to give him money and we had to wait till the senior resource came home."

Would we call our family members as resources, however resourceful they are?  Most of us, don't realize that  by calling an individual a 'resource' we are politically correct and humanely wrong. 

See the difference in the two statements made here:
  1. "X is very dedicated and energetic resource in my team and I am willing to trade him to you if you can pay me for X$/hour".  
  2. "Mr.X is an energetic and dedicated person in my team and he will definitely add value to your project. His consultation would cost you X$/hour".  
This is business and its not wrong to be in "selling services" (as it is put in offshoring), but we can put it in more proper fashion is what I feel.  

This post is a small attempt to shout to this world, through this miniscule window of mine, that it is wrong to call our colleagues resources. If this article makes an individual think and ponder if he would be liked to be called a resource, then I succeeded in my attempt.

"Bhogi" is celebrated to discard old things and focus on new belongings.  Likewise, I discard the old habit of calling a human being as a resource, starting this dawn.

viji suresh

Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard. Google

12 Candles:

Harsha said...

Awesome.. i was also thinking abt the same stuff.. i had a similar but other characters in the resource story..

I'm also joining u in ur new initiation.. :)

Viji said...

cool harsha... spread the words.. it's kind of irritating when I hear some one call an individual a resource...

Super Awesome post Viji. I wanted to write so badly about this but I had to force myself from publishing it. I came out too strong. The post still sleeps in my drafts. I ve felt the need to change this right from the day I joined the corporate world. Namma onnum kallu, mannu, irumbhu, pithalai ilayae apdi kupda... I want to spread the word around. Everyone should stop addressing people as resources.
And superb post Viji! Thanks 4 writing about this.

Viji said...

thanks krithi... exactly... what you think you should write, don't let anyone to stop you... think twice if you are writing about an individual, but don't think twice when you write about something that can change a practice which is not fair.

Namita said...

Wow! I am impressed Viji :)
I do find it odd too and I stopped it years back when I addressed one person like that in a mail. It looked very disrespectful.
Nice thought! We are with you :)

Viji said...

thanks nami :) and thanks for your read too :D

kavitha said...

Great post, Viji! I totally share your views on this. I never refer someone like that, and feel pretty odd when someone else uses the term resources to mean people.

Enjoyed the post and good that you are spreading a nice message! Who else, but people in Human Relations can take this up and have it implemented too at a broader level!

Viji said...

Thanks Kavitha for the read... let's start and when use the term resource, let's correct them. That would definitely make people think when they use the word next time... :)

Raghav said...

I see where this is coming from ;)

Viji said...

am confused now :P care to elaborate?

mona gupta said...

Very nice Viji :). After all coal, iron steel cannot be called the same as humans... i agree with u :)

Viji said...

thanks for your read, Mona :)

wisdom comes with experience

At one, I learnt crawling was fun. At forty one, I still feel crawling is fun #blamemykneesnotme