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What’s in your Treasure Chest?

October 25, 2021
By Philippa Youngman
What’s in your Treasure Chest?

Do you really know all the assets of your organisation?  Most of the physical assets of our business have a tried-and-true recipe for management, carefully monitoring their “health”, planning replacements and ongoing enhancements and it is funded accordingly.

I know we, as HR professionals, always talk about our people being our greatest asset, but as an organisation do we manage them like they really are?  Dollar cost does not always equate to value and value is not always visible.

Our people are an appreciating asset, gathering organisational knowledge, skills (both technical and human) as they journey through their work life with us.  Why then do we often measure our people as operational costs?  There are several accounting metrics that talk about revenue per employee, cost per employee, and if these seem “out of whack” with peer norms, there is sometimes a correction through restructuring to make the numbers work and show the right picture to shareholders.  We also tend to measure such things as “no. of average training days”; “average training cost per employee” on the assumption that this investment leads to something and all learning comes at a cost  – but what and how do we know?

Let’s talk about our asset’s “features”, our people’s skills or capability.

Think about the data richness of a person’s CV or the assessment outcomes of the tests we put them through, often in PDF form, seen at recruitment or some other time when its deemed critical but not in a usable form to create organisational insights.  I have often wondered why Uber doesn’t capture all of the skills of their drivers and offer up as a recruitment site – imagine the treasure chest they have, but of course they are only hiring drivers so the critical skill that Uber needs (for now) is a valid driver’s licence.

It’s time to tell a wider story and begin to measure our skills/capabilities as an asset.  Adding to the “triple bottom line” metrics. As well as turnover, let’s look at average tenure – as a measure of organisational knowledge and experience.  Track our critical skills – “what do we need vs what do we have” and let us put actionable plans in place to close any gaps and take advantage of a strong supply that is in line with our business strategy – imagine what our business would be capable of if we found a stash of diamonds in our Treasure Chest that just happened to be in support of a future strategy.

Another aspect is that of engagement.  The definition of employee engagement according to several experts is “the strength of the mental and emotional connection employees feel toward the work they do, their teams, and their organisation”.  I believe we have added another dimension to this to include how this also fits in to an employee’s life, both current and future plans.

I have a very personal example just recently when my son took his first job out of University at an accountancy firm.  He was excited about the opportunity to pursue gaining his C.A. qualification, paid for by his employer and learning on the job.  He enjoyed his job and the people he worked with.  He believed he was committed to the study required to obtain his C.A., 80% of the study time was to be in his own time, and there was a compulsory workshop for each module every two months on a Saturday over the course of 3 years.   He is a keen rugby player so to accommodate this, he would have had to forego either rugby (not an option) or extend the term of his CA completion by 1 year through not completing any modules in the winter.  From the side-lines (excuse the pun), I clearly saw a solution.  As the workshops were online, albeit instructor led, all it would have taken to keep him engaged (and I am sure many other graduates who wanted some balance in their lives) is to change the delivery of the training to more modern practices of interactive, bite-sized learning with demand driven mentorship.  My son’s resignation came as a complete surprise – they were pleased with his progress, well above expectations in terms of delivery and his 1:1 check-ins were positive.  They did not go the next step and ask how work was fitting in to his life and a more holistic approach to the definition of engagement (but also be prepared to change an 80 year old learning practice).

Imagine a workforce that is future-ready, where we are continually working together to close capability gaps, build new skills and advance careers, checking in on work-life integration, creating a win-win environment for all, but we are doing this with all the data at our fingertips by asking the right questions and mining for the diamonds (or even better, creating the diamonds from dust).  This is what an integrated future-ready talent solution should deliver for your organisation.


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