“THE WAR FOR TALENT”, “HUMAN CAPITAL” – divisive and unhelpful phrases that undermine our efforts to advance the hopes and aspirations of people at work.
“How so?”, I hear you ask.
Well, there are times when I’m surprised more people don’t run from their places of work at the end of the day like Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner screaming “I am not a number, I am a free man!”
People are messy, contrary, complicated, complex lifeforms. We’re not neatly labelled. We don’t want to be pigeon-holed or reduced to digits on some CFO’s spreadsheet. You want creativity and innovation? Well, don’t refer to us as assets or resources. We’re not “talent”.
So much of the language we use in business is dehumanising to the point where we can move those digits around on the spreadsheet without concerning ourselves with the lives they represent. Euan Semple got it bang on when he said “Organisations don’t tweet. People do.” The media refer to “banks” or “business” as if they were some kind of sentient organism responsible for many of our woes. Banks don’t award the huge bonuses that so many of us feel are undeserved. People do. Businesses don’t give poor customer service. People do. Businesses don’t want to “attract and retain the best people”. People do. Schools don’t educate our kids. People do. The NHS doesn’t look after our poorly relatives. People do. Businesses don’t have culture. People do.
Businesses don’t pigeon hole people. People do.
People don’t want to be talked of in the abstract. But people do. About people.
Isn’t it about time people stopped?