Human capital: Manage it wisely!

By Sharon M. Weinstein | 07/09/2015

Lives are too important to waste or undervalue, including your own.

Picture of magnifying glass
Do you want to be valued as a human being? Chances are you have thought about this during an especially frustrating day at work, or after a long sequence of stressful experiences. Why does it matter? Because today, more than ever before, employees feel undervalued, less recognized, and overwhelmed. They are stressed, and, at the core of much of this stress is the work environment. In health care, we have gone to great lengths to create healing environments for patients. But how much attention are we giving to providing healthy work environments for staff members? Can the work environment be supportive and human-centered? Can it be less overwhelming?
 
Employees overwhelmed
Thanks to proliferation of technology that has contributed to a breakdown of barriers between work and life, the balance between the two, for many, has been lost.When work life and personal life blend together under the guise of “multitasking,” both suffer.
 
Sharon WeinsteinWhen you are at work, your focus should be on the job. 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 cellphone or checking your email. 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 a loyal employee.
 
Human capital management, the new HR
Employees are capital—human capital—and wise leaders increasingly recognize the need for effective human capital management, or HCM. HCM, the new HR, sees people as assets whose current value can be measured and whose future value can be enhanced through investment. If you are in management, are you investing in people? According to master people manager Sam Walton, “The way management treats associates is exactly how the associates will treat the customers.”
 
Think of HCM as attracting, developing, and managing your organization’s biggest asset—its people. When you manage human capital or human resources, you are developing the potential of human lives. An organization that manages people effectively provides employees with clearly defined and consistently communicated performance expectations. It puts people first and creates an experience for them.
 
Expectation or experience
Chances are, at one time or another, you have been an employee. As an employee, did you want a job or an experience? If it was a job you were after, did it meet your expectations? Did you feel recognized, valued, appreciated? Were you part of the team?
 
If it was an experience you were after, perhaps you joined an organization such as Apple Inc., where every day is just that—an experience! Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, once observed: “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 has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
 
Effective HR departments do much more than handle claims and push papers. They manage human capital, not only for the benefit of the company, but also for the benefit of the employees. That’s why the human resources department in many organizations is known as “capital management” or “talent management.”
 
Much of today’s workforce is highly talented. But is that talent pool taking up space or actually engaged in the work process? Nearly 40 percent of the U.S. workforce now works just part time. Baby boomers who lose their jobs are often out of work for 18 to 24 months. Millennials often want more creative jobs and want to work for startups—or for themselves. Everyone wants work to be easier, less punishing, and more meaningful. Everyone—including you and me—wants something, and often that “something” is to be valued as a person and treated with respect.
 
B Is for Balance book coverManaging lives
How do we define the relationship between employers and employees? How do we view dedicated employees? If we follow the Sam Walton model, we will treat the employee as we want the customer—the client—to be treated. For years in marketing programs across the country, we studied internal and external customers. We knew that, if the organization was to succeed, we had to assign value to internal customers.
 
It is time to think of your internal customers—your employees—as keepers of the company’s mission and vision, which they, in turn, will share with your external customers. It is time to think of those internal customers as an important link in the value proposition and the potential driver of success. RNL
 
Sharon M. Weinstein, MS, CRNI, RN, FACW, FAAN, author of B Is for Balance, published by STTI Publishing, is a motivational speaker, consultant, educator, and certified environmental and physical wellness specialist. To read a sample chapter from B Is for Balance, click here. To visit her website, click here.
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