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Employees = Liabilities vs. Employees = Assets

A 5 Part Series - Part 5

As we wrap up a rather trying year, I thought it would be appropriate to also wrap up the 5 part series dedicated to how organizations can alter their way of thinking and subsequent behavior in order to thrive. As I reflect upon the year, specifically from an organizational standpoint, I am blown away at how greatly employees have been impacted. We have all witnessed the downsizing, closures, removal of programs and an overall loss of jobs, whether indirectly, or firsthand. And what is most interesting about this is that when times get tough, most commonly, the programs and initiatives that support employees are discontinued. And while the last year has certainly made that fact evident, this holds true in your more “typical” environments as well, as many organizations view efforts to drive employee engagement, development, etc. as non-critical. What organizations are failing to realize however is that employees are by far their greatest assets and without them success is impossible. As a result, the best investment an organization can make, and a necessary one, is in them.

Think about it…

1. Employees are the first customers of any organization. After all, if the organization does not have happy and satisfied employees, they will not deliver appropriately to achieve the necessary results.

2. They are inevitably the face of the organization. If they are unhappy, this message is carried with and conveyed to other employees across the organization and/or other peers across the industry, some of whom turn a blind eye, while many others begin to take note. This goes beyond their time with the organization and extends even well after an employee leaves.

3. Motivated employees make a significant difference. These individuals help the organization reach new targets, meet and exceed customers’ demands and needs, develop new and innovative products, and over perform to achieve the company’s objectives, and ultimately achieve success.

This list could go on and on, however the point is that employees are the most important asset an organization has. As a result, organizations must be better in considering ways to invest in their people; their lifeblood. This means things like integrating new hires quickly and effectively. This means listening to employees' needs and acting upon them. And this means making the development of your employees a critical component of your strategy; not viewed as an unnecessary cost or a “perk” to employees, but rather an investment in your staff and your organization. Better trained and developed employees are happier, and perform better, which affects the organization positively on many fronts. When there is a failure to invest in this area, there isn’t just the cost associated with the actual program or implementation (which is a common misconception and the reason there is a failure to include within corporate strategy and/or these efforts are more quickly cut), but the costs extend far greater; your employees happiness and engagement, your customers satisfaction, your reputation, etc. are all critically affected; and in turn so is the organizations success; ultimately an intangible negative ripple effect.

Now sure, don’t get me wrong, when there are certain budgetary and/or resource constraints, I am not saying that an organization should always cut their technology infrastructure in order to provide employee development opportunities. Difficult decisions must always be made based on a particular situation. What I am saying though is that the initiatives that center around culture, engagement, development, and support of etc. can’t be the first ones to go. If they are, disengagement will wreak havoc on your organization, costing you money (in fact, employee disengagement costs the US economy an estimated $350 billion each year), your reputation, and without any infrastructure to support.

Organizations have an opportunity to thrive by understanding the value of their employees and treating them like any other critical asset; with continued care, support, and investment.

I am hopeful that this series has provided an opportunity to consider new ways of thinking and doing as compared to the historically flawed alternatives that will only continue to set organizations back. I’m excited for a slew of new topics and content in the new year. Cheers to continuous improvement and starting 2021 off with a bang.

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