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Why It’s Time To Ditch HR & Embrace People-Centered Terminology

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

Are you tired of the term "Human Resources"? You're not alone (I’m with you!). Let’s face it - calling our hardworking team members "resources" is like calling a gourmet meal a "snack." It completely misses the mark and overlooks the value and complexity of the real thing!
But why the need for a change?

The term "Human Resources" has been around since the early 1900s and was originally used to describe the management of factory workers. It has since evolved to encompass all employees within an organization, but many feel that it still carries a negative connotation of employees being viewed as expendable resources, rather than valued members of the team.

Other words and phrases that have undergone changes in the workplace include "staff" (if you are still using this… just stop.) becoming "team" and "customer service" becoming "customer success." In each case, the new terminology reflects a focus on people and their experiences, rather than treating them as interchangeable cogs in a machine.

But it's not just a matter of being politically correct or using trendy buzzwords. It's about recognizing the value of the people who work for us and creating a workplace culture that supports them.

Embracing The Future!

Many businesses have already ditched the term and adopted more people-focused titles that reinforce their valued teams. So who is leading the way and what terms have they spun up?

  1. Adobe changed their HR team name to "Employee Experience" team, reflecting their focus on creating a positive experience for their employees.

  2. Airbnb rebranded their HR team as "Employee Experience," highlighting their commitment to creating a great workplace culture for their employees.

  3. Shopify updated their HR team name to "Talent Acquisition and Management" to reflect the focus on attracting and retaining the best talent in the industry.

  4. Unilever's HR team is known as "People & Organization" in order to reflect their commitment to putting people at the heart of their business.

  5. Coca-Cola's HR department is now known as "People & Culture," emphasizing their focus on creating a positive workplace culture for their employees

*BONUS* Atlassian changed their HR team name to "People and Places" to create a more inclusive and welcoming culture, and to emphasize that their focus is not just on employees, but on the physical and emotional spaces where they work.

It’s not just the language of HR that is changing but the role of HR professionals themselves has evolved. As businesses become more people-focused, PEOPLE teams are increasingly expected to take on strategic roles in shaping company culture, driving engagement, and fostering employee development to drive business success.


So, referring to a department of people looking after your most valuable assets as "resources" may seem like a harmless turn of phrase, but it has a real impact on how they feel about their jobs and their value to the company. By using language that puts people first, we can create a more positive and inclusive workplace culture where everyone feels valued and respected.

Keep in mind however, that changing our terminology to become more people-focused is just one step. We must also take action by embracing a more people-centered approach to all facets of the employee lifecycle. That means prioritizing employee growth and development, promoting work-life balance, and fostering a culture that encourages open communication and collaboration. (I can help you with that!)

So let's start a movement. Let's banish the term "Human Resources" and replace it with something that better represents the backbone of our businesses - people . Who's with me? *And from now on, you won't find the term "HR" in any of my future blog posts. It's time for a change, and I’m excited to take part in it*

What other words have you updated in your workplace? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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