People Are Not Widgets/Resources or Capital, They are INDESPENSIBLE

Okay.  So this particular topic has been itching to get out and it has been driving me nuts.  Quite frankly, I just can't stand it when I hear people being referred to as Resources, Capital, or anything other than a Human.  Does that not bother anyone in staffing.  I mean come on now.  We are looking for people to fill a project or two, or a long term career interest, and a marriage of two happy customers in a business relationship.  We aren't talking about a piece of equipment here folks!! 


Truth is, if you were to take ALL expenses related to a company's balance sheet, and then look at payroll/benefits cost, and then add up all the metrics that come about as a result of revenue, and then divide that revenue by number of staff, you have a pretty little metric called ROI per employee.  Now that my friends shows how people are INDESPENSIBLE.


Case in point, manager calls their staffing vendor desperate for help, a key employee is going on a Medical Leave, or there was a bad hire, etc.  Ahh, sound familiar....and then a manager in full desperation realizes that they need someone to come help them out to take the pressure off their team.  And then they ask for a human to fill that void.  Ahh, and if the manager is good, they will look at the long term value of the position, they will have invested TIME in creating a good JOB DESCRIPTION, that is well written has job analysis tied to it, and bingo, they can fill that role with a competent, very strong, HUMAN BEING. 


Now contrast this with a manager who is not good at managing, and looks at their people as a widget, oh I need a resource, or robot to come in and help with this project or long term need.  Now, here is the difference, one is going to have EXCESSIVE amounts of TURNOVER, and the other will likely have tenured staff that want to stick around longer.


My point here comes from 7 years in Human Resources, and the knowledge that people are INDESPENSIBLE, and must be treated as what else: HUMAN BEINGS.  Never ever forget the first part of HR, is HUMAN.  Not capital equipment, not robot, but HUMAN.  Key here?  A computer can do a lot of things, but it cannot replace creativity, ingenuity, thought provoking brainstorming, connecting with customers, and adding value in a substantial way.


A key measurement that I saw in college in a course on Training/Development, revealed that companies who invest in training more often then counter-parts in their industry were nearly 3 x's as competitive.  It shows that real metrics correlate to the people factor.  You want success in business/recruiting?  You want to build a brand?  Well, it starts just like a marketing campaign.  You MUST treat People as HUMAN BEINGS, and not a RESOURCE to be disposed of or used like a piece of equipment.


Your bottom line will be directly affected by the amount of energy your company takes in becoming an employer of choice.  It is a real branding strategy.  You may think that with the recession having taken it's toll that you can have your pick of talent, and it will be easy to find, placing hefty walk on water traits on your "resource".  My advice here?  Be open minded to someone who may have 80-90% of your requirement, and teach and train.  You know what?  The most successful companies invest in a people strategy.  The best companies I know see the value of a contributor that is treated as a human being, with respect and courtesy.


Those who do not will lose top talent to the competitiion.  Always engage the talent who approaches you, by being respectful of candidate's time.  Do not make them wait a long time to know their standing in a search.  Don't try to fill a position, if it has no budget. 


The candidate side of the equation is just as important as serving the manager.  But so key is it, that a professional be given a good chance, a fair shake and a respectful tone.  My point here is, creating an employment brand is like treating a candidate as a business customer.  If you approach in that way respecting the candidate as an intelligent and dedicated individual, thanking and respecting their time, they will be more apt to refer a possible passive candidate.  And passive referrels are the most valuable asset a company can have in their recruiting arsenal.  A player employees attract A player candidates. 


Remember to keep HUMAN in HR.  Staffing and HR are connected and should never be separated.  It's that point that makes the best recruiters even more solid, when they take the longview, of the candidate relationship making a positive impression on a candidate and being cordial and full of business respect will yield the outcomes in recruiting we all desire.

Views: 250

Comment by Karina Miller on January 13, 2011 at 12:50pm
I agree! I wrote a similar blog post awhile back. Personnel -> Human Resources -> ???? What's next?
Comment by Alasdair Murray on January 13, 2011 at 12:55pm
I remember the first time I ever heard the term 'human capital' uttered by a consultant. I was appalled that anyone could come up with a phrase that makes people sound like a herd of cattle. Hey ho, we live in a corporate world I suppose, but really, human capital sounds awful.
Comment by Sara on January 13, 2011 at 1:10pm

Hi Mike, great post.  I've been quietly reading lots of posts on RecruitingBlogs, and this is the first time I've written a comment, I think.  But your post, and the HUMANity of it, really resonates with me and I couldn't agree more. 


I have been in the online employment market for over15 years, helping employers find and recruit employees, and conversely helping job-seekers find jobs that hopefully are a great fit for them.  My current company, FlexJobs, tackles a niche of the job market that has not been traditionally embraced by employers -- flexible jobs that offer some option for telecommuting, flextime, part-time, or alternative schedules.  Historically, these types of "benefits" were viewed as just a benefit for the employee and NOT for the company, and this perception is still widely accepted unfortunately.  Which always drives me crazy because it's such a short-term take on what "benefits" can really mean.


And then when I read your post, I caught myself saying, "Yes!"  If only employers would value the people in their company as HUMANS, with lives and families and experiences beyond company walls, the relationship between the two would be so much stronger all around.  It just seems so simple to me to see that most of us are struggling to find a work-life balance, and most companies force the hand as if you have to choose between one or the other.  And regardless of how well you fake it, 99% of people will never ultimately choose the well-being of their company over that of their families/selves. So, if we're lucky enough to find a great company who will help support us in both working and providing even just a little flexibility to live our lives, trust me, most people won't take that for granted!  They will feel less torn and spread thin, appreciate the company more,  be more passionate about it, and ultimately be harder working, more productive, and more loyal.  How can that not be beneficial to a company in the long-run??


Anyway, thanks for highlighting the HUMAN part of employment.  I really appreciated your post, and it gives me a refreshed perspective also on why I feel so strongly about flexibility options in the workplace.


Sara Sutton Fell


Comment by FREYJA P. on January 13, 2011 at 1:21pm

Key here?  A computer can do a lot of things, but it cannot replace creativity, ingenuity, thought provoking brainstorming, connecting with customers, and adding value in a substantial way.

You MUST treat People as HUMAN BEINGS, and not a RESOURCE to be disposed of or used like a piece of equipment.

Outstanding blog and the two quotes are values to live by if you want to live and thrive in the recruiting industry.

Comment by Amanda Liimatainen on January 13, 2011 at 1:58pm

No conversation has been more painful to me then when a manager at a previous employer regularly referred to the number of "bodies" they needed to meet their needs.  My response was always that I could provide bodies but it wouldn't solve their issue or save them money.  I refused to hire bodies.  I hired competent individuals and *gasp* people.  If a manager views their employees as bodies and their leaders support that view then turnover will be a never ending issue.  Company culture is the issue. 

I completely agree with Staffing and HR not being separated.  They can be separate jobs but should not exist in silos.  My current job title is Recruiter.  My experience in employee relations, comp and benefits and retention  is invaluable in my role and I still use it every day.

Comment by Alasdair Murray on January 13, 2011 at 2:03pm
PS - search the phrase 'human capital' on Twitter. You'll find plenty of references to it in HR circles particularly.
Comment by FREYJA P. on January 13, 2011 at 2:58pm

I do have a very good client who refers to the juniors her company hires as "warm bodies" but I put it down to her frustration at their lack of commitment and expected high turnover for those keeners who are working their way up, rather than taking it as a serious "attitude". The company itself is very respectful of their employees, have excellent benefits and training, etc., so I keep her comments as a reflection of her workload rather than a belief system.


Comment by Dawn Benefiel on January 13, 2011 at 7:52pm

This is an interesting topic for discussion.  As corporations have evolved over the years it seems that the more they "detach" from the workforce that drives their operations the less satisfied and productive workers are.


I look at some of the more inovative companies that have adopted the philosophy of "I take care of my people and they will take care of me." mentality.  They are on the cutting edge of everything because they make the workplace and the corporate culture one that a person can "BELONG" to. 


I still believe that those that take advantage of that kind of corporate culture are the minority.  What happened to the stories of loyalty and devotion to one's job / craft.  If we wonder why many do not have the passion they once did for their careers you only have to look at the companies they have been employed by to see the years of impersonal treatment and being looked at as a "warm body" have worn them down.


I believe that we will see a trend in the other direction in the next five years that turns the tide of corporate america back to a place of a more personal approach to their employees.  That belief keeps me going and gives me hope.  Of course it helps to actually work for a company that has continued in that spirit! 



Comment by Mike Rasmussen on January 14, 2011 at 12:04am
I am loving your comments.  Keep them coming.  The truth is, the heart of any job is the person behind the skills, a resume may say one thing, but it is in the end the individual and the person that gets the job.  I certainly know that people will always be the heart of great business.
Comment by Shalaka Katdare on January 14, 2011 at 6:54am

Hi Mike, Great Post..I feel Most recruiters and professionals in Human Resources Business forget the 'human' aspect of the business and it is the most disheartening part of the industry. But unfortunately, 95% of people read, applaud, brainstorm, etc on posts and articles like that and forget about putting it in practice (either individually or get pass it on to the team/ organization as value) and that it exactly where we All fail to set the spirit or heart of the business in its right intention.







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