HR Strategic Focus Part 5: They are not human capital assets, they are Employees!!!

In this final installment in this series we want to turn to the need for a new perspective on a critical factor in every organization that is operating today. In this space and others on the web we recently posted a request for assistance in developing the support for the affect of stress and overwork on the productivity within the workplace.

One of the respondents returned a rather terse response in which she took us to task in our post by stating “First of all, they are EMPLOYEES, not “human capital assets.” They’re PEOPLE, not furniture.”

While we agree that they are people, we also suggest that they are a valuable asset of the organization. Try serving your clients or customers with no employees. They dictate how successful your are in the marketplace. Part of the problem with the above stated comment can be found in the landmark work of Robert Kaplan and David Norton entitled “The Balanced Scorecard.” The authors make reference to the Harvard Business Council on Competitiveness project which stated that “the U.S. system favors those forms of investment for which returns are most readily measurable; this leads to underinvestment in intangible assets – products and process innovation, employee skills, customer satisfaction – whose short term returns are more difficult to measure.” (The Balanced Scorecard Page 38)

In order to reach the stages of innovation that will perpetuate our organizations we have to change the way we look at our EMPLOYEES. The nature of our employees has changed that they are no longer valued on what they make or produce. They are now valued for what is in their heads. They are based on the contribution they make to the organization’s ability to create new products or services. Their value is based on how they enhance the organization. So from a strategic perspective organizations need to begin to recognize the value brought to the business. This means they are not truly just expense items on a balance sheet. They are the future of the business.

So how do we change the perspective? Consider these strategic directions when dealing with employee issues:

Listen to the Rank and File: Instead of necessarily introducing benefits because they are the current fad ask your employees what they need and want. Create benefit package centered around both your corporate culture and the voice of your employees.

Flexible Work Arrangements – Many organizations, with great success, have found that being willing to explore new work arrangements have benefits to the organization and to the customers. Best Buy has allowed their corporate employees to switch to a system in which employees are rated on the results they achieve not on what hours they work. This also allows you to assist your employees in achieving an optimal work/life balance.

Employee Engagement – Management needs to bring everyone into the planning process. Utilize the creative skills of the employees to change policies or procedures. Use the employees to locate the obstacles in your processes to make the organization run more effectively. Make the employees aware that they are a vital part of the organization. Not in image but in reality.

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