It’s interesting how people plays with words these days. If you want to know the traditional definition of a word, you go to the tried and true, merriam-webster dictionary. In this information age, you don’t need to grab a dictionary, you can simply google a word and it gives you alternate places to find a definition:, urban dictionary, or simply type the word on google for definition.

How would you know which definition to use? That depends on which audience you are targeting. If you’re looking for slang, the urban dictionary might be your bet. Although, I don’t recommend it for anything that relates to the workplace. Case in point, if you look up the word Human Resources, the definition just seems to come from someone who hates HR to the core of their being. Depending on where they work, that may be true. However, not every HR Department is as described on

The purpose of this blog is to explore the Word Game in the world of HR.

According to

Personnel – people employed in the organization

Human Resources – the personnel of a business or organization, especially when regarded as a significant asset.

Human Capital – the skills, knowledge, and experience possessed by an individual or population, viewed in terms of their value or cost to an organization or country.

Based on these definitions, I don’t understand why there are people who have problems with these words. To blame the word for poorly executed purpose and the lack of value of the HR department is just ignorant. It doesn’t matter what you want to call it, be it People Resources, or whatever name you want to cook up, it wouldn’t change if the value and purpose of the department doesn’t reflect the intended meaning.

Even the word asset is seen as a negative word. Asset means a useful or valuable thing, person, or quality. However, some people like to focus on a particular word that makes it seem negative. Based on the definition, when we consider our employees as assets, it means that we are considering them as valuable people. What is wrong with that?

Job Titles are also subject to word games. Changing your title to People Manager, People Happiness Officer or whatever “cool name” you can think of, it doesn’t change the fact that you still work in Human Resources. Besides, aren’t people, human?

We need to be cognizant of the work that we do as HR Professionals. Until we can show the value and the purpose of the work that we do, changing the name of our department or our job title just seems foolish and simply playing a game.

As Human Resources professionals, let’s show and treat our people (personnel) like a true asset (valuable people) in our organization. Rather than playing the word game, let’s find ways to truly engage them, let them understand the value of compliance, and show them our true purpose of having a memorable employee experience – be a true HR advocate. This means taking care of people. The organization cannot succeed without its human capital.

If you feel uneasy about the word advocate, you may want to read my fellow #HRTribe, Tamara Rasberry’s blog post: “When Did ‘Advocate’ Become a Dirty Word”.

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