24 Mar 2021

People and Culture vs Human Resources

Back in the ’80s (ahem…I’m showing my age), there was a business function called Personnel Management. In the ’90s it changed to Human Resources and more latterly we talk about People and Culture or People and Capability. Why the change and what does it mean?

The development of People and Culture is a somewhat new idea.  People and Culture is a more progressive approach to managing people – it is more holistic and people focused, and not so policy based.


A People and Culture centered approach in business creates a positive work environment that directly benefits the business. If we go back to the ’90s the term Human Resources did create some wrinkles – people are people,  not resources to be used. Human Resources had much more of a compliance focus to it. It doesn’t really resonate with what we’re all trying to achieve in business.  A positive and productive work environment! People who are treated like people, as opposed to “resources” are much happier. If we then push a little further into a positive work environment, this is where the concept of culture fits in nicely.


Culture is the unseen way that things work in a business or organisation. To achieve a healthy and productive culture you must be incredibly intentional about creating the culture you want.


If you’re not focused on it – then the culture you end up with by default is likely to be one you don’t actually want!!

This is where People and Culture as a discipline comes in.  Don’t get me wrong – we all need structure, standards and agreed behaviors, but once we focus on the strategy of people and culture, we can have a meaningful impact on people’s lives by giving them a work environment where they can be themselves and thrive!   Who wouldn’t want that in business?


Senga Allen,
Everest – All about people