The notion of people as assets should stand for something by Sasan Saeidi, managing director FP7/UAE and IAA global vice-president – content strategy
If this statement should hold true, then, as organizations, we should really think about this notion through a more humanized lens and ensure the words “people as assets” really stand for something. In a Harvard Business School executive education course that I am taking part in, the notion of human capital as the biggest challenge for business leaders was brought into question. We simply are not taking care of it the way we should.
I have been reading about modern commercial economics, which is the philosophy of considering a person as a unit of economic production. It started during the industrial revolution and continues to be the driving principle of our day-to-day modus operandi.
This is not totally wrong, but the boundaries of decision-making have been completely misinterpreted and we have lost control and, instead, labeled our people as liabilities.
We count people as FTEs, i.e., “full-time equivalents”, in our day-to-day conduct. Truth is, clients don’t have coffee or strategy and creative ignition sessions with FTEs, but rather with human professionals with a lot of value to offer. This overshadows the offering of our people and, more than ever before, their hours and contributions are undervalued and underpriced.
Add to this the constant procurement task to reduce hours but increase output, which, through logic alone, does not add up at all. You can do the math in every which way, but the bottom line is that you end up giving a lot of “free” services.
We are constantly using price strategies based only on costs rather than value, which means you determine how much a job will cost and add a mark-up. In turn, you are asking the client to pay for your efficiency or the lack of it. Simply put, the convergence of machine-type formula thinking vs real-life human contribution is constantly at odds.
Our communication industry is losing its command to earn the right remuneration. Only by taking a human approach to business can this formula be overturned and people as real assets be placed as the driving force of an organization and its sustainability. So, what should we do?
In conclusion, the channel to Wall Street dominates Main Street truths and we struggle to stay empathetic and real to what it is that we are actually delivering. I truly believe that, with the right hybrid model that starts with a defined task and combines the right hours, the right people for that job and an accountability clause that is linked to proper performance and results, our industry can start pricing by value vs by costs alone. This will help our value rise dramatically and, of course, increase the worth of our talent.
When you increase and preserve the worth of an industry, better talent is drawn to it, smarter people want to be part of it and a new type of client wants to have more of it. A circle that starts and ends with people and respect.
Our people be like.