It’s Time To Stop Treating Employees Like “Assets”

Positive pshychology shows that happy employes are productive employees

Courtesy of Yuri Arcurs – Fotolia

I recently ran across a Forbes post “Why Companies are Terrible at Selecting, Retaining and Motivating Their Talent.” Contributor Eric Jacskson identifies 10 common pitfalls companies experience when attracting and retaining the “assets [that] go down the elevator at night.”

Hmmm. It’s true that managers commonly refer to employees as assets. And yet, the word asset rings hollow. Using that terminology turns employees into things. You buy and manage assets. You compensate and lead people. There’s a difference. Let’s add the following five points to Jackson’s original list.

  1. The most effective leaders demonstrate a high degree of emotional intelligence. They understand and mentor others. Positive role modeling flows downhill.
  2. A strengths-based recruitment philosophy and professional development help fulfill employees’ needs for mastery and growth. You can establish career paths based on aspirations and talent.
  3. Respect and recognition tell people you value them… and their contributions. Employees are less likely to disengage and leave when you don’t take them for granted.
  4. Understanding human motivation is a critical success factor. Intrinsic rewards work; extrinsic rewards produce diminishing returns. And yet, we base most rewards on external factors that employees come to view as entitlements.
  5. Chemistry matters. So do style and fit. When we recruit for skills only, we suggest that people are interchangeable. They’re not.

The organizations that earn the 100 Best Companies to Work For designation know that employment is relational, not transactional. You can buy employees’ time. You cannot buy their spirit and passion. You’ll get better results across the board when you stop thinking of employees as assets.

Written by Marcia Moran and originally published by Modern DC Business on June 22, 2012. All rights reserved.

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