Our Greatest Asset…Really?

“Our employees are our most important asset.”

Everyone, at some point in their careers, has heard some advanced representative of a company they’ve worked for utter these words. And, if you’re like most employees at most companies, you’ve groaned inwardly. Those words have become tinged with a negative reaction because many companies say them, put them on their website, and put them on slogans around the office. But when it comes time to actually put those words into action, they balk.

There are numerous reasons for companies stopping short of actually considering their employees to be their most valuable resource, but the effect is the point of this post. The inward groan I mentioned earlier has become almost automatic. In the wake of layoffs and jobs being moved to where cheaper labor can be found, there should be little surprise that the burden of proof for this value proposition is on the employer.

Actually treating employees as though they are your greatest asset takes a lot of work and money, and that’s why many companies fail to do so. For a lot of companies, it’s very hard to look beyond the next quarter, much less the following year, or the next decade. And it’s the long look into the future where the companies who do embrace the idea of employees being their greatest assets have the most impact. When they keep their eyes on the ball and don’t waver from it, they find great success.

If you want to see it in action, go take a look at Fortune’s list of top 100 companies to work for. Specifically, look at the top 10 companies in that list. These aren’t a bunch of philanthropic organizations that barely scrape by. At least half of them are brands that almost every person you encounter will recognize instantly. Every single one of them have yearly revenues that are well in excess of a billion dollars. Cisco Systems (#6 on the list), has conducted numerous buyouts and mergers over the last few years. Mergers and buyouts have been statistically terrible for many businesses, but Cisco has managed to be successful and be one of the best companies to work for.

It is possible to be successful and treat people as though they’re your greatest resource. It’s not easy, but it is the path to success.

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