At the end of the recently concluded HRevolution
conference unconference event, Steve Boese asked the audience for their thoughts and insights. Two different people made comments that essentially said that they wished there had been less HR content. One person asked for other disciplines (such as marketing) to be represented, and one asked for more tech-related content.
Those comments peeved me a little bit, perhaps because these comments came not long after I read this tweet from an attendee:
The thing that bothered me the most about this tweet is the assertion that the term “engage” is somehow an HR word that no one else uses. Apparently the tweeter has never read The Unmarketing Blog (“Stop Marketing. Start Engaging”), or the Brian Solis book Engage!, or heard of the digital technology event “Engage!”
The verb engage has several different definitions, but HR pros, marketers, and others use to word to mean an emotional, interactive experience between people. Thesaurus.com lists the terms “involve” and “engross” as synonyms for this particular meaning, but nowhere does thesaurus.com list the word “participate” as a synonym for engage.
This is obviously because HR pros know that there is a vast difference between an employee who “participates” and one who is “engaged”. While I understand that buzzwords (or buzz-phrases, like “seat at the table”) are overused, and have myself written against using jargon, sometimes the reason a particular word achieves buzzword status is because it is the only word that definitionally fits the situation.
She may be right about people/talent, although it seems to me that both are used pretty frequently by HR pros, making “talent” less of a buzzword and more an alternative.
Right after I left HRevolution I attended a workshop in Phoenix, where I spoke on using social media to communicate employee benefits. The terms SPD, SBC, wellness, and compliance were thrown around the room with aplomb. No one complained that the people in the workshop should use words that people outside of HR (or benefits administration) do. No one tweeted that attendees should say, “can’t understand this paper, not SPD”, or “don’t get sued, not compliance”.
If you don’t want to hear about HR at an HR event, perhaps a marketing, finance, or technology event will better fit your needs. You may hear some buzzwords, though.