At a recent conference, Professor Shirley Zinn spoke candidly about the changing expectations boards have of HR leaders and she said there is a paradigm shift now, where boards are looking at HR for business solutions.
“Boards now, more than ever before, are more interested in humane capital,” she said. “Boards are seeking equitable work structures, culture, and environment. As a result, HR executives need to be more strategic, as many businesses are starting to realise that without people there isn’t much strategy.”
Sonya Skipp, General Manager of iFacts, considered this statement and said that for many years, the terms ‘human resources’ (HR) and ‘human capital’, converted an intangible asset into a factor of production with a cost and an approximate value. This enabled companies to dehumanise and make cold, hard financial decisions.
If people, or human resources, are merely considered to be assets, this downplays their importance, and companies need to realign their HR and business strategies to ensure that their people are doing the right thing.
Vlatka Hlupic wrote a book – Humane Capital – and it states that the move from ‘human capital’ to ‘humane capital’ may seem like a softened approach; more inclusive and pleasant but something that could potentially compromise profit making. The evidence, however, shows that a committed approach to maximising engagement, combined with an entrepreneurial culture and a smart strategy, leads to far higher financial returns than treating people as resources.
This begs the question how do you engage with employees?
A simple list states:
- Get to know them.
- Provide them with the tools for success.
- Let them know how the company is doing.
- Allow them to grow.
- Support them and the authority you’ve granted.
- Recognize your team and their hard work.
- Encourage teamwork among employees.
- Find employees that care about the customer.
Understanding these suggestions is one thing but what the underlying element is, know your employee – potential or permanent.
Dr. Louis Fick, associated with modern-day integrity testing, says that the easiest way to get to know an employee is to conduct a series of specialised integrity tests that not only guide you on the intentions of an employee but would also give you useful background information on how to engage with an employee as well as contributing to the continuous rolling-out and establishing a sound culture of integrity in the particular organisation – with all the proven benefits associated with it; changing the concept of human resources to humane capital!