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How to Address Rampant Employee Disengagement? Recognize Human Equity

worldfaceAn alarming Gallup poll published earlier this year is still sending shockwaves throughout the business community: Most American workers either hate their jobs or don’t care one way or the other about them.

Less than a third of Americans are actively engaged in their work, meaning they’re passionate about it, enthusiastic and energetic. They’re consistently productive, and high performing.

Gallup estimates the 20 million who are “actively disengaged” – openly negative and unhappy have a staggering effect on the economy, costing the United States $450 to $550 billion each year in lost productivity.

“To engage the 70 percent of non-committal or ‘actively disengage’ employees,  business managers need to change how they view human capital,” says Trevor Wilson, CEO of TWI Inc., a global corporate speaker, human equity strategist and author of “The Human Equity Advantage,” (humanequityadvantage.com).

“Engaging employees is an issue I’ve been working on for more than two decades, and there is a solution. I call it human equity — the unique assets each individual brings to the workplace that are often unrecognized. Recognizing and leveraging your own human equity, as well as that of your employees, addresses not only the incredible waste of human capital illustrated in the recent poll, but also related concerns business leaders share, including the constant need for innovation. These challenges are not unique to the United States.”

There is a reason why executive royalty, such as Warren Buffet and former General Electric CEO Jack Welsh, sought talent beyond traditional criteria like knowledge and skills, which are also important, says Wilson. He offers a method for uncovering valuable intangibles in employees; he calls it the SHAPE V Talent model:

• Strengths: Consider strength as defined by the 1999 Gallup StrengthsFinder study, which includes “consistent near-perfect performance in an activity.” The study identifies 34 qualities, which can be innate and, unlike skills, are not learned. Individual employees and managers should not force a square peg into a round hole; if an employee’s near-perfect, near-effortless strength is in research and analysis, but not so much in data management, managers should allocate this resource accordingly.

• Heart: Have you ever wondered what comes first, whether you’re good at something because you like it, or you like it because you’re good at it? The chicken-or-egg question aside, what matters is the passion one has for a talent. This includes activities a worker would do even if he or she didn’t have to do it on the job. If a talented manager won the lottery and decided to quit his job, for example, he might be inclined to manage people in a local political campaign or take the helm of his son’s little league team.

• Attitude: There are three general attitudes an employee might have, according to a branch of study in positive psychology. First, there are those who approach their work as a job, who seek only a paycheck and benefits. The second group includes those with a career perspective who seek advancement. The third group views their work as a calling and deeply connects with what they do every day.

• Personality: In 2009, nearly $500 million was spent on personality testing in North America alone. A reliable test isn’t valuable in so much as it reveals differences among workers, which are most likely already apparent. The value of these tests is in showing how and where differences lie. Understanding differences can lead to an appreciation for how and why coworkers perform and improve the synergy of teams.

• Experience: Who is the person you’re sitting next to at work; who is she when she’s not making business-to-business calls, scheduling meetings or troubleshooting technical problems? How does her race, religion, economic background, family situation and overall lifestyle influence – or not influence – her work life? More importantly, how might her life beyond work offer diversity of thought in the workplace? Life experience should not be overlooked when assessing talent.

• Virtue: “Value in action, that’s virtue,” Wilson says. Candor, temperance, courage – these traits preempt problems like public scandals, harassment and discrimination and foster a positive moral pragmatism among coworkers and practical wisdom among leaders. With social media continuing to expose bad behavior and employee morale revealed to be at a stunning low, this is a significant quality in the on-going search for the best talent.

About Trevor Wilson

Trevor Wilson is the CEO of TWI Inc. and creator of the human equity management model. He is the global diversity, inclusion and human equity strategist who regularly speaks at corporate functions. TWI’s clients include some of the most progressive global employers in the world, including Coca-Cola, Ernst & Young, BNP Paribas and Home Depot. TWI’s trademarked human equity approach was instrumental in catapulting Coca-Cola’s South Africa division to the top performing division worldwide.

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What is human capital?

Investing In Human Capital Results In Long-Term Returns

Human capital is often discussed in business and political discussions and considered a well-known parameter in conversation. But just what is human capital and is it strictly a business term or can it be applied in other aspects of everyday life? Human capital is quite simply the investment and the return on people producing a valued product in the market place. And just like a large piece of machinery or a piece of real estate, human capital must be developed, sustained and managed carefully for the maximum return on the investment.

Investing In People

There is a general rule in business that whenever a new employee is hired the business will lose money with the new worker for a certain amount of time. Whether it’s a few days or a few months, there is an investment in the employee to teach, train and instill the business philosophy of the new job. Employers take this loss as a cost of doing business but anticipate the long-term return to eventually far exceed the temporary loss. This is the basis of all capital investment: putting money in to see it grow and return profits later.

Managing Human Investments

As with any investment there are managers who apply certain conditions and processes leading to a fulfilling relationship for both the employee and the employer. Human capital consulting with professional human relation specialists will lead to a better work environment, incentives for greater production and eventually a seamless work flow with all involved engaged in increasing the business’s bottom line. Human capital consulting with both business owners and employees allows for more feedback as to what works and what is not as effective. It’s difficult to apply specific criteria to all businesses and adaptability is key to effectively managing the workforce.

Incentives

Over time businesses have also learned their capital investment in people involves additional rewards other than just money. These include the well-known job perks of paid vacations, health insurance, satisfactory overtime compensation, bonuses, family time allowances and breaks during the workday. Whether a factory floor worker or a commissioned salesman out on the road, the means to manage human assets remains constant. Applying additional compensation for the employee is much like upgrades and regular maintenance to existing machinery or other production assets: increasing productivity and reducing friction. Also, these benefits lead to greater retention with existing workers. This means a greater return on the initial investment while avoiding the expected loss of hiring a replacement worker and starting the process over of training and familiarization with a new job.

Fokal Fusion is a boutique “non-consulting” consulting firm. Located in Houston, TX, Fokal Fusion works alongside with our clients to determine the problems and then get to work to get the job done.

 

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