People ≠ Resources

May 25, 2021

"We'll need a resource to get that done."

"Let's find a resource for this project."

Ever heard statements like that? They could be about compute, or a datacenter, or even a whiteboard. All resources. However, those examples are referring to people.

In the past (or perhaps still), companies called the department that handles people and work that involves getting something done for a person at the company, human resources. There's a reason we've stopped doing that. Humans aren't resources.

A resource is something you can swap out for another that performs the same duty, exactly. It is "something that can be used for making profits or benefits", not an individual who brings a unique approach to what they do.

How connected would you feel to a project, a company, a mission, if you we simply a resource - a cog in a system?

You might say that if someone leaves their job, they will be replaced, so you basically are a cog that is replaceable. No, not at all. An individual that takes over the role you held might be completely different than you. Maybe multiple people take on the responsibilities of your role. Also, the extra attributes you bring to "the work" are not replaceable.

Let's take a more human, individual approach to work. Let's not be resources.

Next time you hear someone use the word "resource" when talking about people, dig deeper. Ask them what they mean by a "resource". Enlighten them to a different perspective.

People are not resources.