Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Human Resources or Powerful Partners?

I have trouble with the phrase "human resources". Maybe I have an odd way of viewing it but I don't think I am alone. To me, it brings to mind a company seeing it's people as usable objects, like something they could take inventory on. "Lets see, we have 37 computers, 4 cars and 21 humans."

Its just semantics, I know; but it begs the questions, "How should a company view it's employees?"

The first thing to understand is that people (the humans that are the employees of your company) are motivated by their own goals and needs. They are only going to be interested in your company as far as it is able to meet their needs. This isn't a selfish thing, it is simply human nature. We all need to have food and shelter, we all need to feel good about our lives, we all need to provide for the ones we love, we all need to feel like we are important, we all need to have time to enjoy life, we all need to feel like we are bettering our lives (and the lives of those we love) every day. Every person has these same basic needs no matter their position within an organization.

Employees can be treated either as faceless resources or like valuable people. And guess what ... The way that they act and feel toward your company is directly effected by that!

A person who is treated like a replaceable part of your organization will act like a replaceable part of your organization. Pay them the bottom end of what their position commands, give them a drab office, never ask for their input, never praise them for a job well done, hold fast to schedules without regard for their personal life and only speak to them when you need something. How hard do you think they will work to build your company? How much effort will they put in? Will they go above and beyond to help you reach the goals you have for the company? Of course not. Instead, they will be tossing resumes around hoping to find something to get them the heck away from you and your company. In this kind of situation, none of their personal needs are being met. Why on earth would they stay and show interest in bettering the position of you and your company if you show no interest in bettering their position in life?

If you employ a person, commit to treating them in a way fitting of someone who is helping you towards your goals, because that is exactly what they are doing! They are taking care of things for your business so that it can meet and exceed the goals you have set for it. Of course, paying people properly is a great way to make them feel valuable, but there are hundreds of other ways as well. For example:

  • Give them a comfortable place to work. Somewhere they feel proud to work from.
  • Schedule their hours in a way that shows you understand that they have a life outside of work.
  • Make time to "chat" once in a while. (An off topic chat may seem like a waste, but it is an investment.) 
  • Publicly recognize their successes. 
  • Genuinely ask for their input when decisions are being made. 
  • Share the glory for your company's successes with them. 

In short, people need to feel valuable. If they feel valuable they will act valuable. They will want to push your company towards its goals because they feel like an important part of it. They will look for the things that can be improved and point them out to you. They will creatively think of ways to make customers happy. They will put in the extra time or effort needed to ensure the business runs smoothly. Why? because they know that taking care of your company's needs will in turn take care of their own needs. They will know that they are an integral part of your company's success and they will be proud of that fact. They will act in a way that benefits your business because it gives them a sense of pride and security to be a part of a successful venture. You see, it is a symbiotic relationship. Your business needs your employees and your employees need your business. If you take care of them, they will take care of you.

You, as the employer, set the tone of your organization. Present it as a company that values its people and your people will be very valuable to you. You will not see them as a resource, but as partners working toward the same goal.

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