The Short

They're people too, not machines or tools or throwaways. Synonyms could be:

  • People/person
  • Staff
  • Their role, such as "developers" or "business analysts"

The Long

During my internship I would hear the word "resource" being thrown around. Being naive and not privy to workplace management conversations I would just assume it meant things like server resources, CPU, RAM, etc. Spoilers, most of the time it was about people. I often thought of resources as consumable and sure, a person's time and capacity can be used up but it was jarring to have a word I would use for inanimate objects be used on people.

I still to this day find it jarring and here's a little backstory that over time firmly cemented by opinion.

My own manager during this internship period was slightly ahead of the times I feel. The 2010's seemed to be a decade of social movement and empathy, fitting then my manager from 2010 was a true example of this. Through him and by example (my first and only example at the time) I gathered an understanding of workplace empathy, understanding and just general kindness. We shared highs and lows, stories about our pasts, space to grow and slowly I picked up his good habits of communicating and being a leader for others.

He was lucky as well - to be grown in a good environment. His own manager, our associate director, went as far to describe how he disliked the use of the word "customer" when referring to internal IT requests at the University of Auckland. I believe he saw it as a barrier between people in the same boat, showing we were all the same meaning we should be humanizing and respectful.

We can keep it humanizing and respectful by using words that show they are still a person, such as:

  • People/person
  • Staff
  • Their role, such as "developers" or "business analysts"

So for me, it really just comes down to respect basic humanity. Maybe I don't respect another person for one reason or another, but in the end of the day, they're still a person and that's respectable. A person with their own stories, wins, losses, dreams and goals. I don't believe a resource has any of those.

Thank you for coming to my TED talk.