Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Human Resources

It is an odd world in which humans are considered resources rather than resource consumers. The terms 'human resources' and 'human resource management' are new terms, coined at the beginning of the 20th century. They suffered a brief dip after each of the World Wars, but generally soared unchecked in popularity until the turn of the millennium, at which they began to trend downwards again. [NGram]
Clearly, then, this evil idea is a product of the rational thought process of homo economicus run wild. There is a point at which humans become numbers and factors of production in a calculable way. It is very close to the point at which the trains run on time as bodies are delivered to death camps.
After 20 years of analysing corporate bodies, organisations and institutions of various kinds, it has dawned on me that the most evil character in the cast of corporate management must be the HR manager. This is often a loser who interacts badly with other humans and thus can only survive by treating them as non-human entities while sucking up to the humans not within its purview.
I'm fairly certain not all HR managers are bad. But the nature of the job is exploitative and soul-destroying unless done with incredible attention to ethical behaviours and moral consequences. It is far easier for a rich man to... sorry, that's been said by a far wiser person before me.
Repeat after me: "Humans are not resources to be consumed, used, exploited, allocated or manipulated." This will make you a more ethical person. But HR managers can't do this. Rather, they have little choice but to embrace the dark side if they want to keep doing what they do. Hence the HR icon of this era, Scott Adams's 'Catbert the Evil HR Director'.

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