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.

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Comment by Tim Giehll on January 18, 2011 at 2:40pm
Hi Mike:  After reading all of these comments, you sure hit a nerve with your post.  You are right that we all need to place more emphasis on the "human" aspects of our workforce, but the world sometime changes in spite of our hopes.  From our work with 3,500 staffing firms and corporate HR departments, everyone is starting to struggle with the "volume" of fulltime, part-time, temporary, 1099 contractors and consultants "flowing" in and out of their organizations, especially as corporations start to finally hire more workers in 2011. This may upset the group, but we are seeing corporations starting to talk about "Human Capital Supply Chains" as a idea to better streamline the selection and flow of global workers through a business.  Some companies are even hiring Six Sigma Black Belts into their HR organizations to help improve the planning, selection and on-baording of workers.  And it is not just fulltime employees this economic cycle.  Many companies are increasing their use of Contingent Workers from 5% of their workforce to 20-30%.  Like I said, sometimes the world changes around us wether we like it or not.  You can read more on this subject at .  Take care, Tim Giehll  Minneapolis 


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