“human resource department” vs “personnel department”

This question crossed my path a little while back why is it that years ago we called the group of people who managed people the “personnel department”, and now we call the same people with the same job the “Human resource department”? It could just be a naming convention thing… names for things tend to change for no apparent reason other than fashion – B2B became Enterprise, SaaS became Cloud (actually, a lot of things became “Cloud”), and SME became SMB which is now becoming VSB – so far this is my favorite pointless morphing. I am sure you can think of many more.. post them in the comments ..

We’ll start and old word to new word dictionary.

But back on track… human resource vs. personnel. Is this just a case of the passing fancy of the need to modernize the names for concepts in order to find use in them? I am not sure, other departments in the workplace stayed the same. The CEO is still the CEO (not the PEE – Premiere Enterprise Executive – although PEE does make for a much better title). I don’t think its just fancy .. Although the new term definitely has a more “smart” ring to it. I think it’s more a matter of perception of employees. “Human resource” in not personal.. it has the ring of accounting … while Personnel, is all about people, and people are nuanced, varied and individual, unlike a resource which is uniform and made to specifications.
The hiring world has definitely changed in the last few years, it is practically unheard of for a person to stay at the same job for the same company for their whole life, which was almost the norm a bunch of years back. The world is a much more technical place now; jobs have become more advanced and complicated over the last years. Every profession from cobblers to teachers, to dentists have had a massive influx of technology and advances. A mechanic 30 years ago didn’t even have to know what a computer was – these days they are effectively programming them, on top of all the other stuff they have to do.…
Technology and growth is one reason that there are so many more people looking for jobs now-days than just 30 years ago, with such a massive candidate pool, fighting for a proportionally smaller selection of jobs, which require more and more skills, its become really, really hard to identify your target “human resource”   – from the myriad of people applying.   The Personnel vs. Human Resource migration, move came from necessity, I think – the necessity to optimize all the processes dealing with humans that your organization has, but you can’t forget the personnel part.

It’s a necessity in today’s world to be setup to have Personnel and Resources. Cangrade can help: find the best people – retain, promote, identify the unique traits of different people, but in an economical and standardized way.  How’s that for a combination of the old and the new ? …. The parts of the old that work, combined with parts of the new that work – all implemented with the latest technology and cutting edge psychological research.  And we aren’t even renaming anything – just redefining it.

  1 comment

  1. ggoren ggoren   •  

    Oh man, that brings in me memories of IBM. These guys had their own name for EVERYTHING. For example they called a layoff – “resource action” or RA.
    Big companies are straggling to manage properly their human resources. It’s really one of the biggest challenges…

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