It is often heard in organizations, corporate forums, and university classrooms that human resources are the main asset that every company has. Clearly, the difference between the success or failure of an organization is, to a high degree, up to the people who are part of it. For several decades, the human resources has been considered to be an essential source of competitive advantage.
But is it true, the famous adage that says that workers are their main asset? Is reality in agreement with that affirmation? Today every company claims that people are their main asset, but few actually put that into practice and even fewer really, truly believe it. Managers are still thinking, perhaps unconsciously, the same thing that 19th century companies thought: “our staff needs us more than we need them”.
We can ask ourselves what is the true cause of that dysfunction between the practical and the theoretical ideas. Perhaps the problem is not that the companies don’t value their staff, but instead they don’t know how to do it, they haven’t found a reliable way of measuring their value or adding even more value with a better management.
To state that there is human capital inside a company means several things. For instance, that the human beings that they hire are good not just to move other assets, they themselves are assets that have to be valued, measured and developed. They are dynamic assets that can acquire new value over time, not inert assets that will depreciate. They are the most important one of all assets. The capital is a synonym for net value: the assets of a business after obligations have been deducted. As such, the procedures used to recruit them, compensate them and develop them constitute one of the most important chapters in the value of a company, the same or even more so than the financial capital, the physical offices, the equipments, the supplies or the intellectual property.
The value of a company and therefore the value for stakeholders can be deteriorated if the human value is incorrectly managed. People are the fundamental basis of processes for change, innovation and learning that, in the long run, are vital for survival and success in any organization.
Creativity and innovation, a fundamental non-tangible asset for organizations, particularly in these times of crisis, are no more than a product of the people. Creativity constitutes itself as the only guarantee of a continued competitiveness overtime and it gives meaning to the sequences of the technological process only when it is oriented to acknowledging the supremacy of man above any kind of machine.
Therefore, due to this strategic character of people, organizations should give a preferential attention to the practice of human resources that they employ to attract the most adequate workers to their needs, develop their human capital by means of specialized training, and retain the most valuable workers through systems of motivation and reward.
Those who know about accounting know very well that the human resource or a company’s personnel is essentially an expense, but it really is the best asset that the company can possibly have. An organization is not made up only of capital and fixed assets. In order to manage that capital and work on those fixed assets, the company requires personnel, and the more adequate and competent it is, the efficiency of the company will be greater.
Successful, competitive companies make important efforts to recruit the best staff, the most well-trained one to develop each one of the necessary tasks, otherwise the company won’t have a chance to survive the competition. In spite of the fact that -from a strictly financial point of view- the staff is seen as an expense, it should be treated as a valuable asset. The company must implement human resource policies as if their employees were the most important thing they have.
Only those companies that have great leaders, great managers and excellent workers are ultimately the ones that will stand out and overcome difficulties, which is more than enough of a reason for the company to place their employees where they truly belong. Sadly, there aren’t many companies that see in their employees an asset that has to be managed and maintained as any other one, they simply see them as something necessary but irrelevant, just another expense, and they see them as something that can be simply replaced if it doesn’t work instead of “performing a little maintenance”.
Personnel, just like any asset, will have a better performance and productivity the better it is managed and the better it is treated. This is why human resource policies should be adequate to meet the needs of the company, from the beginning of the recruiting process until the moment when the employee leaves the organization. A competent, well treated and managed employee is a very productive asset for the company.