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Employees: Assets or Expenses?

by HR Coach on March 31, 2009

Do you see you employees as assets or as an expense, a liability?

“Our employees are our greatest assets.” Back in the ’70s, the radio station I woke up to every morning burned that phrase into my brain. They played an Edmonton company’s ad everyday for months and they ended every version of the ad with that statement. It was the first time I recall hearing it, but many companies since have made that same claim.

But for the most part, many companies are lying when they make that statement! How do I know? When I see a constant stream of new employees, when I read continual job ads for a particular company, when I’m looking at a company where employees are not very happy or satisfied in their jobs I know they are not being treated as ‘assets’.

Employees who are treated as important assets, would not be leaving. They’d be telling all their friends and acquaintances about the wonderful employer they have and the company would have a pool of applicants knocking on their door waiting for an opportunity to join the business. You’ll reduce employee turnover by learning to see and treat your employees as valuable assets.

Many companies treat their employees as just another expense. And what do most companies do with expenses? They try to reduce them in every way possible. Keep the wages as low as possible. No training that isn’t absolutely necessary. Make do with outdated equipment. Produce more with less.

And then wonder why their ‘lazy’ employees aren’t motivated to work harder. “The economy is too good – nobody wants to work.”

And yet, there are companies around who aren’t hurting for employees at all. There are some companies that never run job ads, while others in the very same industries, in the same localities have ads in the paper every couple of weeks.

What’s the difference? Employees love to work for companies that value them – that treat them as valuable assets. Let’s think about assets for a minute.

Because we usually invest in assets, we check them out before we sink money into them. For example, before we invested in our home, we had a home inspection done. It cost us a few hundred dollars, but we felt it was worth it to know we weren’t purchasing something that would be a source of unforeseen problems.

Employers who value their employees check them out as well, by assessing them prior to hiring them. In doing so, they’re sure the new employee will ‘fit’ in with the company and bring the necessary qualities that will allow them to match the brightest and best current employees.

When we invest in an asset, for example a home, we expect to invest more money in improving and maintaining that asset. We expect assets to improve in value.

Employees as assets, means an employer also invests to develop and maintain the skills of those employees. They provide generous training allowances and work with their employees to choose courses and programs that not only benefit the company, but develop the value of the person as a whole.

If employers treat employees as assets, they do what they can to keep them. They know employees want to be challenged, want to be acknowledged and rewarded, want to enjoy coming to work every day, want to be part of something important. These employers know that while money isn’t everything, it does have importance and they provide above average wages or salary.

Employers who treat employees as assets are Employers of Choice. These employers are literally chosen by their employees and they have their pick of the brightest and best candidates.

Becoming an Employer of Choice is not something you can do by declaring that you are one. Your actions and results will speak far louder than your words. Becoming an Employer of Choice takes commitment and time, sometimes as long as a couple of years. Is it worth it? Well, do you want your employees to be expenses or investments?

Please share how you demonstrate ‘employees as assets’. Leave a comment below!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ford October 12, 2011 at 1:11 pm

So then, why aren’t they listed on the balance sheet as an asset?
If one purchases techology to replace a human and its doing the same work, its listed as an asset.

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