We are Human Beings, Not Human ‘Resources’
published by , on 06/12/2017

By Ben Whitter (World Employee Experience Institute)

Dear HR,

Thank you for your recent application to set-up a key function within our business. We regret to inform you that, on this occasion, we will not be progressing your application to the next stage of the process.

It is clear that you have significant experience dating from the industrial revolution of putting in place processes, practices, and policies that enable organizations to retain control, ensure compliance within the workplace, and manage employees in a fair and reasonable manner.

However, having considered your proposal, it is felt that implementing an HR function, in general, would increase our bureaucracy to an unacceptable level, create division within the workplace, which would lead to a lack of trust, and would also provide our community with an easy target in order to shift our problems to a function that feels remote and separate to our business community.

As an alternative, and to give you some context for this decision, we will continue to build collective and individual accountability for our outcomes, strengthen our community of professionals all focused on the quality of the employee experience, and encourage everyone to play their part in the development of our organization. The standing weekly items of customer experience and employee experience on the management team’s agenda will continue and our never-ending feedback loop with our colleagues will ensure that our decisions are fully informed and co-created with our people.

Our focus on maintaining our human-centred and experiential approach is non-negotiable and we have opted to create a team of internal colleagues dedicated to this cause to help shape, guide, and facilitate win-win outcomes, from pre-hire to retire, as we grow as an organization and as individuals.

The panel also felt that there were significant gaps in your proposal around digitalization, design-thinking, human-centred leadership, workplace design, and people analytics.

We feel that the potential and talent within the HR profession is vast, but more needs to be done to nurture this and ensure people are given the right roles and freedom to really make a difference to the business. Perhaps employee experience is the way forward?

We appreciate this may not be the news you were expecting, but would welcome another conversation once you have fully embraced the approach we have outlined, and you have, at the very least, re-branded from ‘Human Resources’ to something more suitable for 2017.

We are human beings, not human ‘resources’ after all.

(This open letter was originally published on

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