Many of us spent the last week keeping an eye on the happenings in Washington with the threatened shutdown of the government as of last night at midnight. No matter which side of the political spectrum you are on, we understand that the government overspends. But we can take the discussions in Washington and carry it over to our business environment.
One of the difficulties of the discussions this past week were that they centered around a number and gave no concern to the underlying environment. We have done the same thing during these tough economic times. Organizations cut for the sake of cutting. They never looked at the after affects on the organization of the decisions. We can’t dispute that organizations are reporting that they are more productive now then they have ever been. But at what cost? Workloads have increased. Stress levels have increased. When you add stress to the equation the organization’s health care costs go up.Management operates under the premise that when the economy turns around they can just go out and hire another commodity. I truly believe that they are going to be in for a rude awakening when the talent shortage rears its head once again.
The reason behind this change is that organizations have begun to look at their human capital assets as commodities. When you make the change from viewing employees as commodities rather than a live person, your decision basis changes. You no longer take into consideration how your decisions affect the work/life balance of your employees. You no longer take into consideration the needs of the employees to create an environment where they they are becoming engaged with your organization. Recent surveys have suggested that as many as 85% of your current staff is considering jumping to new employment opportunities when the economy improves. Are you ready to deal with that mass exodus?
It is not too late to change your perspective. Remember that if you implement continuous process improvement tools you can add to the bottom line by removing non-value added activities. When you look at your human capital as expendable you will never look at them in any way as a commodity. James Womack in this book Lean Thinking, says that unless you are ready to close the doors of the business there is never a reason to conduct large scale layoffs as we have seen during this past economic downturn.