22 October 2007

Do you work in HR, Personnel Administration, HCM, or something like this?

It's funny how words can mean a lot sometimes and become void of any meaning other times.

Call a geek a nerd an he might forget about his conviction that non-violence is the way to go.

HR, Personnel or HCM?

Ask an HR, Personnel or HCM professional what HR, Personnel or HCM means and they might just look at you blandly.

Now is this important at all? I don't think so, but I've decided to post a dozen articles before I told my friends and family about this blog, so here are a few random thoughts.

From what I understand (this is what I usually say when I'm too lazy to research the actual information), this is the history of the terms:

Personnel Administration

This term was used way back when HR only drafted contracts and termination letters. And they did a lot of filing. Actual recruiting was too important, so it was handled by the head of department or the direct manager. Payroll was about money, so it had to be handled by responsible people (Finance). Therefore HR meant mostly using a typewriter and filing paper.

Human Resources

Employees were now considered a resource, meaning they were valuable to the company. Sounds good. But resources are also timber or oil. But still: valuable.

Human Capital Management

This is a designation that many companies started using a few years ago. Funny thing is, most of them went back to "HR". I think the main idea was that "capital" is something you invest in or that you use to invest while "resource" is something you use. Somehow capital sounded better, but it didn't stick.

A bit of psychology?

We could analyze the deeper psychological meaning of the words "resource" and "capital" and try to match them with studies about the psyche of CEOs, managers in general and the mindset of the general public in the western world during the last 10 years.

Conclusion, happy me and fun fact

But lets make it easy: sometimes you launch a new product or brand name and it becomes a trend. Sometimes it just fails and everybody forgets about it after some time.

Me, I'm happy with "Human Resources". I'll choose it any day over "Personnel Administration" (I hate filing).

Funny fact: I noticed that companies providing financial services like to use HCM in their job ads. Does "resources" sound too industrial?

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