Today, I’m delighted to introduce a guest post by fellow copywriter Richard Owsley. In true goodcopybadcopy style, it’s a rant against a nefarious piece of corpspeak – happy reading!
Colleague. What does the word mean to you? Not ten years ago, but now.
To me the answer is easy. It means a supermarket shelf stacker, call centre worker or a downtrodden white collar junior at a large unwieldy organisation like a bank or phone company. Shame really, given what the word used to mean.
In fact I think it has probably become the most abusive term possible for addressing your staff. Because the deceit is so flipping see through. (Sorry, am I meant to say transparent?)
How would these workers refer to themselves, if asked? Staff, probably. Employees, maybe. Staff sounds fairly professional and employee sounds functional enough – we’re employed by an employer, we understand the relationship. Workers is fair enough as well, for that’s what we are.
But in the Human Resources world (which solar system is that in, I wonder?) these decent, acceptable descriptions are seen as disparaging. Not, I venture, as disparaging as most normal people find the expression human resources. But then the people who work in this field don’t really seem to listen to or understand the views of normal humans.
As copywriters, we have to fight against this nonsense. Please do not insult people with the word colleagues. We should make it our job to tell the HR fools where to get off. Sorry, are we allowed to say job, I can’t remember?
Richard Owsley has a business degree and postgraduate degree in marketing and has been working full-time as a copywriter and editor for over 15 years. He lives in Bristol and runs Writers, a copywriting company with offices in the UK, France and Australia.