“Employees Are Our Most Important Asset”

It’s on your website, and it’s in your handbook.  You’ve heard an executive say it to a crowded room.  It’s just vague enough that it’s hard to disprove, but doesn’t really commit the company to anything.

Want to get the attention of everyone at the table? Ask this:

What’s the last major program we launched to optimize this asset?

Because, consider the attention paid to making your other assets perform:

Real estate. If extra space can be rented out, someone has figured out how to rent it out.

Vehicles. We track mileage, have a set rotation for who gets a new vehicles, and bad things happen if you wreck one.

Patents. Lots of non-competes, and lots of lawyers.

Equipment. Someone knows the serial number of your laptop, and when you’re due for an upgrade; there’s a whole staff around for fixing your computer problems!

So, is your “human asset” getting the attention of all the other assets in your organization?

HR novices try to help improve their company’s human resources through moral persuasion.  A training program will make us better!  A bigger 401k match will attract better employees!  We need more vacation because people complain about our current plan!

No other asset manager in your company works this way.  Your facilities people will justify upgrades to the parking lot or a new wing based on additional revenue or lower cost. Everyone else is working the same way — there’s a return on the investment in the asset.

You can get some traction with the people who control funds by talking about improving your employee asset.  However, you’d better be able to talk about employees as an asset!  If you can’t explain how your program reduces costs, or increases revenue, it’s a non-starter.  Assets, even human ones, don’t work that way.

FOT Background Check

Steve Gifford
Steve Gifford, MBA, SPHR, is the Director of Human Resources for OEM America, a PEO of more than a hundred companies and more than two thousand employees. His company gives small businesses the buying power and HR expertise of a big company, but without the bureaucracy! In the past, he’s been the HR guy for marketing, manufacturing, retail, and government organizations. His first HR job was in the US Army during his second tour in Iraq, where every employee in his client group carried an automatic weapon. It helps him keep the problems of employees who show up to work late in perspective.


  1. Joseph Logan says:

    Of those you mentioned, employees are the only ones with a legitimate claim to being an appreciating asset (if one considers employees “assets”, which I certainly do not). Imagine the upside for the company that manages its talent portfolio as well as it manages its fleet.

  2. Neena Gupta says:

    A very good way of justifying training programs is looking on the return on investment. Here are some possible metrics: (i) reduction in turnover; (ii) reduction in errors costing down time; (iii) reduction in injury rates; (iv) reduction in human rights claims; (v) reduction in payouts/settlements for claims. Furthermore, training individuals who can then become more productive can also lead to increased sales or billings.
    Depending on the operation, there can be real measurable results when you invest in the workforce. HR shouldn’t shy away from looking at the dollar impact of its investments.

  3. Companies lose billions yearly because of absenteeism and turnover. It’s clear that these companies could save lots of money if they paid more attention to their employees. Employees who feel unappreciated become a disservice to their organizations, because negative emotions are catching, they spread at an exponential rate. Therefore your clients and customers feel it and they become dissatisfied too. It’s a vicious circle, which could be broken with a little extra attention and care for your employeesThink of ways to build up your employees’ morale . These things are not difficult to do but they’ll repay a thousandfold.

  4. Tim Bullion says:

    I think this is exactly why more and more companies need, and are buying, a full HCM solution. It’s more than just a hr/pr system. They are truly an employee engagement / empowerment system when utilized properly. This is becoming more and more of a competitive advantage, or even a requirement when attracting and trying to retain top talent. The trick is building a proper business case to show a quantifiable business case for making this expense for your employees.

    I would bet the size of the company would define the answer to your question of “what’s the last major program we launched to optimize this asset?”

Trackbacks for this post

  1. “Always Drink Upstream from the Herd”

Comments are now closed for this article.

Contact Us | Hire FOT to Speak | About FOT