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A few weeks ago I was scrolling through Instagram and an ad came up that read, “Get an HR manager for $99 a month!” And, that gave me pause. Really?! An HR manager for $99? Even if it was a lie or a gross misstatement, even if it was $999 a month, that’s only $12,000 a year. When I worked in human resources, I made 10 times that. Now I am not sharing this to talk about wages or salaries, although it’s loosely related.  No, I am sharing this because this ad, this one simple ad I saw while mindlessly scrolling Instagram, sent me down a rabbit hole of thoughts about the commoditization of work and human resources.

When we talk about the future of work, we often talk about digitization and automation.  Sometimes we say nice things and sometimes we call it a job killer. But for the most part, a lot of these trends are negative. From retail to healthcare to hospitality; algorithms and machines that can do certain jobs are doing them and they’re doing them better than humans (and at a much cheaper cost too).

But I think when we talk about the future of work, we’re jumping ahead. We don’t get to digitization and automation without first having an honest discussion about how jobs are commodities. We have stripped the humanness from most jobs and we look at jobs as an object that can be bought and sold on the free market. Much like the HR manager you can get for $99 a month.

What’s worse is that we’re not having an honest conversation about it and human resources.

We tell people that humans come first, and that’s a lie.

We look at the job, we look at the tasks and then it’s about people. So what can we do? How can we fix the way we look at work in today’s job market?

Well, of course, I have some thoughts and ideas, which I would love to share with you! Head over here to listen to my recent podcast episode all about human resources and the commoditization of work, where I share some strategies HR professionals and leaders can employ to put the focus back on humanness in human resources.