It’s probably not unusual to hear the CEO going on about how employees are the most important thing.
But in many cases it’s probably no more than a publicity stunt at the annual company meeting.
You could argue that a company’s main asset is its product or brand. This might be the case with businesses such as utilities or property but not in most cases.
I don’t really like the term ‘assets’ being applied to humans. It conjures up all sorts of negative thoughts and implies that we’re a product that the employer owns, which they don’t. I also don’t like the terms ‘human resources management’ or ‘human capital’ as again, it seems to strip away our human qualities.
People don’t want to be thought of as a product that can be manipulated by an employer. As an employer, your ‘assets’ or ‘human resources’ will respond much more positively if they feel they have made a positive contribution and added value, and that you’ve recognised them for their worth.
People ultimately like to connect, bond, build rapport and relationships, and they will genuinely respond to encouragement and support. Treat them otherwise and you’ll get your just desserts and create a bunch of fugitives or at best a team of disenchanted staff who get mired in office politics, creating undercurrents in the business and,
of course, being far less productive.
There’s much talk about becoming an employer of choice – a company people want to work for. But is this just a mercenary way of attracting candidates?
Many companies have a box of attraction and retention tricks at hand to create employee loyalty and a good employee experience. But it seems in many cases, once the employee is hired, these incentives are forgotten.
If a business is big enough to have an HR manager, it goes without saying this person should be the people champion. But if the HR manager doesn’t have the influencing powers to strategically formulate changes at senior management level, then not much is going to change.
What’s the magical formula? I don’t think it’s merely a question of being nice to people. You have to treat people as human beings and remain aware of and sensitive to their needs. Of course some employees will try to take advantage, but overall you’ll create a much more harmonious workplace if you don’t treat them as tradable assets.
The management bullshit buzzer test
How often do you hear managers (or yourself) saying things like this to staff in your company?
• Well done
• Thank you
• Great job
• You haven’t taken a holiday for a while and you need to
• That’s enough work, you need a break
• Let me buy you lunch
• Are you overloaded with work?
• Do you need help?
• Are you happy in your role?
• Do you need any training?
• How was your weekend?
• How’s your family?
This article originally appeared in NETT Magazine November 2008