"We need to see if we can find a resource for this project."
"Our storage resource is busy, but our network resource is available."
"We need to find another resource."
I hear things like this all the time. And while I recognize that most even moderately sized companies have human resources departments, I really don't like it when the word "resource" is applied to people.
I am not a resource. I'm a person who happens to have some unique technical skills that might be utilized to help other people get something done. But I'm not a resource. I'm not a machine. I have a name.
I like this Wikipedia entry, especially the last sentence:
"The term human resources can be defined as the skills, energies, talents, abilities and knowledge that are used for the production of goods or the rendering of services. In a project management context, human resources are those employees responsible for executing the activities defined in the project plan. Human resources are considered to be the most important resource in any project."
That's my point: The people providing "human resources" are not disposable. They're not expendable. They're critical to the organization, and they should be treated that way.
This article outlines 10 ways employers can keep employees happy, including offering flexible work options, communicating openly, recognizing success, explaining the big picture, building trust and, above all, giving employees respect. It made me happy just to read it.
In this world of downsizing and budget cutting, it's worth remembering that it's better and less expensive to retain a current employee than it is to recruit a new employee. Over time your people become more skilled, they know how to get things done internally and they know the customers. In IT specifically, they know the systems and have experienced the server issues.
When I was writing this post, I searched on "I am not a resource," and found, among other things, this and this.
So I'm not the only person who feels this way. Far from it.
You may think I'm being overly sensitive about employers describing employees as resources. And if you think I am, let me know in Comments. My response, again, comes from Wikipedia: "A resource is any physical or virtual entity of limited availability that needs to be consumed to obtain a benefit from it."
Hopefully we don't need to be consumed to be beneficial.