Do you want to be valued as a product or as a human being? Chances are that you have thought about this concept during an especially frustrating day at work, or after a long sequence of stressful experiences. Why does it matter? It matters because today, more than ever before, employees are feeling undervalued, less recognized, and overwhelmed. Employees are stressed, and at the core of much of this stress is the work environment. Within many industries, we have mastered the importance of a healing environment. How much attention do we give to lighting, lack of clutter, better views, privacy, HVAC, healthy plants, and art? Can the work environment be supportive and human-centered? Can it be less overwhelming?
The concepts of work-life balance have been lost, thanks to a proliferation of technology and the breakdown in barriers between work and life. When your work life and personal life blend together under the guise of “multi-tasking,” both suffer. When you are at work, focus on the job to be done. When you are finished with work, don’t bring it home with you. Make time for your personal life. If your work materials are dispersed throughout nearly every room of your house, you have no place for a real retreat. You’re not spending high-quality time with friends or family members if you’re talking on your cell phone or checking your e-mail when you’re with family. The sheer complexity of our lives creates internal distress and can wreak havoc on our bodies. And, we do it in the name of being the ‘loyal employee’ also known as ‘human capital.’ It has become so intense that the focus on human capital management (HCM) has intensified.
Human Capital Management: the new HR
HCM is an approach to employee staffing that perceives people as assets whose current value can be measured and whose future value can be enhanced through investment. Have you given much thought to investing in your people, because according to master people manager, Sam Walton, “The way management treats associates is exactly how the associates will treat the customers.”
Think about HCM as a responsibility for attracting, developing and managing the firm’s biggest asset: people. Are you managing human capital/resources or human lives in your organization? An organization that supports HCM provides employees with clearly defined and consistently communicated performance expectations. Managers are responsible for rating, rewarding, and holding employees accountable for achieving specific business goals, creating innovation and supporting improvement. An organization that supports and manages human lives puts its people first and creates an experience for them. Let’s talk about your own expectations!
Expectation or Experience
Chances are that at one time you were an ‘employee.’ As an employee, did you want a job or an experience? And, if it was the job you were after, which by the way is often referred to as ‘just over broke,’ did it meet your expectations? Did you feel recognized, valued, appreciated, and were you a part of the team?
If it was the experience you were after, perhaps you joined an organization like Apple, where every day is just that – an experience! Steve Jobs, Apple’s founder, was famous for this statement, “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer had been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I knew I need to change something.”
Today’s human resources departments are so much more than a single representative, handling claims and pushing papers. Today’s human resources departments may be known as ‘Capital Management, or ‘Talent Management.’ And while much of today’s workforce is highly talented, is that talented pool taking up space or actually engaged in the work process? Nearly 40% of the US workforce now works part time. Baby boomers who lost their jobs are often out of work for 18-24 months. Millennials want more creative jobs and they want to work for startups (or for themselves). And everyone wants work to be easier, less punishing, and more meaningful. Yes, everyone, including you, wants something, and often that ‘something’ is to be valued as a person, and treated with respect.
How do we define the relationship between employers and employees? How do we view the dedicated employee? If we follow the Sam Walton model, we know that how we treat the employee is how the employee will treat the customer or client. For years, in marketing programs across the country, we studied our internal and external customers. We knew that we had to add value to our internal customers if we wanted to succeed.