HR Speak

Shawnee Love   •  
May 7, 2015

A friend was recently laid off.  In the conversation about what happened, I learned that the part that irritated her the most was being told the company was “right-sizing”.

From her perspective, what they meant was that the company was wrong with her in it and better once she was gone.  Probably not what the company meant to say but that was the message she received nevertheless.

We of the HR profession ought to stop the euphemisms and HR speak. They aren’t fooling anyone, and I believe they reduce employees’ trust and confidence in HR.  Additionally, as the internal experts in communication, shouldn’t we try to follow the most basic rule of communication and simply make sense to our desired audience?

There are a bunch of words and phrases HR uses commonly that I think don’t translate as well outside of the profession.  And if I had my way, we would stop saying:

  • human capital- why can’t it just be people?
  • critical success factors- aren’t these just expectations or skills?
  • engagement- it used to just be commitment.
  • presenteeism- “dogging it” is more fun and less confusing.
  • “empowerment” and “accountability”- I am just burned out with both of these words as it seems like they are over used.

How about you. What are the HR words you’d get rid of?