Monday, November 07, 2011

Employees Bring Talent

I read a lot of business articles and books, many of them focussed on human resources, organizational behaviour and social networks. One thing that shows up a lot is the references to the low levels of engagement among employees in contrast the the belief that a higher level of engagement is required for companies to have long-term sustainability.

One thing that comes to mind when reading these sources of information is the disconnect between the terminology that is being used and the way people feel about that terminology yet there is little discussion on this topic. Perhaps there is a fear of being too 'politically correct' or of being seen as not focussing on the real issue. Perhaps the terminology is part of the real issue, so I thought I would share some thoughts and see what you think.

Terms that are frequently used in articles, blogs and discussion groups when the topic is human resources are referring to people as assets or talent; and today I saw an article that referred to employees as weapons. When I listen to people discussing how they feel about this use of terminology in reference to employees they most often state that they feel like they are not considered as a whole person but as a thing, not much different than the equipment or building their employer purchases.

People are not assets or talent or weapons. They are human beings who exchange the use of their competencies, skills and abilities for a financial renumeration. A business does not own people, they lease their abilities.

If organizations believe that the people that work for them provide the value that is needed to sustain their business perhaps they might consider that disengagement can start with the way we communicate and can be resolved with the way we communicate.

What do you think? Do you feel the same way about being called assets, talent or weapons as the people I am hearing from?


  1. I agree with you Karin. Language matters and words reveal our heart. I was once quite guilty of this type of thinking. It's so easy to get drawn into it when you're in a larger organization in particular. Ultimately, we need to respect one another at the human level - the work and the profits will naturally follow. :-) John

  2. Thank-you for your comment John. It is so easy to get caught up in using that type of terminology. It helps to remember that respect isn't just a concept it needs to be employed every day in each of our actions. And that can be tough to remember when we get busy.