I tend to cringe whenever I hear it. I feel like an object, a mineral—something to be exploited or extracted. To me it is an insult.
Of course, it is my left-brain that is listening. If you think of the phrase in literal or emphatic ways, it does send the message that we are just objects. “Screw you” I say. Why can’t you just say that “our employees are resourceful and competent”? Probably because they don’t really mean it.
I know that some people get all gushy when they hear the phrase. They take it as a compliment. Their right brain is processing it. In this sense, the phrase is phatic communication. It suggests we are all one happy whole. You know, the happy but dysfunctional family.The phrase likely has it origin in the term “Human resources”. Ug, what an awful term.
The history of its usage is shown in the above ngram. Obviously, it emerges in English during the Third Awakening, the Progressive Era, and is used modestly until about the late 1950s. Then, it takes off in a blast through the Fourth Awakening, on into the present. So we wasted the twentieth century turning ourselves into resources. What a joke. “Human Resources” should be done away with, replaced with “staffing, benefits, and employee assistance” or SBEA.
I am not a resource. You can’t extract or exploit me. I have friends at work but they are not family.