Harrogate 2007 | HR – it’s just not cricket

Say the word HR out loud 10 times on a crowded train on the way to work and you will end up getting that elusive seat and probably a few other empty ones around you.

Repeat the act in a crowded hall at the CIPD annual conference and exhibition in Harrogate and you become a chorus.

The chorus transforms into a hymn when words like “clarity” “culture change” and “engage” and many others, are added into the mix time and again and which make up Human Resources jargon, jargon, jargon, etc.


I bring this up on the back of comments made by Greg Dyke, former
director-general director at the BBC, who when quizzed by Newsnight host Jeremy Paxman at a keynote address at the conference, said he would take jargon out of the HR function above anything else.

HR is not alone as an industry that comes with its fair share of technical terms and descriptive words when spoken about at such length like is the case in Harrogate this week. However, it might do well to partner with the marketing and PR industries (don’t get me started, it’s the FIRST and BEST product since space tourism?) to brighten up its image.

I am thinking along the lines of what Twenty20 cricket is doing for the game, now “engaging” with a more “diverse” audience and creating a new and compelling brand.

In some cases the messenger needs to be shot as the delivery and not the message is at fault – think Henry Calthorpe Blofeld commentating on the new Twenty20 format – “Oh what a marvelous blow, what a splendid chap he is”.

HR really can be exciting and will survive without its jargon, which only serves to contrain it. After all HR is a people industry, its face-to-face and has as much potential as the people who serve it want it to have. Engage is word that has shackles around its ankles. I say open it up and hit HR jargon out of the park.

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