People are our greatest resource... or not!

People are our greatest resource... or not!

“People are our greatest resource.”

A phrase that has become HR’s version of the National Anthem is somehow becoming (or perhaps always been) a bit of lip service that sounds good in theory but doesn’t play out in practice. How can you tell? With 84% of employees looking for a new job in 2012, we have no doubt seen some of our greatest people leave our organizations to move onto greener pastures. Moreover, recent research shows that only 45% of employees are “satisfied” at work.

Sure, your organization may be advertising the fact that you put people first and care about the professional and personal development of your employees but what message are you really sending in practice? Here are three messages that your actions send to employees who truly know when they’re being fed lip service:


“We don’t take interest in our people.” Quick, how many daughters does your Lead Staff Accountant have? Is Brenda in Sales allergic to seafood? Which of your employees have anniversary dates in the next four weeks? These are some of the questions that people who work in “People First” organizations can answer or at least don’t have a problem asking and finding out. From a practical perspective, employees who work for organizations where people truly are the most important resource know it to be true because they feel valued as a person and know that others care enough to ask “So, got any plans this weekend?” and truly want to know.

“We don’t train our people.” Many companies across the US this year will upgrade their computers, email systems, VOIP service, coffee pots, etc. but not spend a dime (or relevantly significant amount of money) on employee training. Companies that do not invest in their employees are sending the message that we are keen on acquiring talent but not nurturing it. If you are an HR professional concerned about turnover and employee motivation, just remember that you can only be “acquired” once by an organization. If the biggest investment you have in your people is giving more responsibilities and/or promotion without access to non-OTJ (On-the-Job) training then no, you aren’t putting people first.

“We don’t value your opinion.” One of the biggest complaints that I’ve heard from various disgruntled employees is that their company just doesn’t listen. You have to remember that Human Resources often times acts like Customer Service for our internal clients (read: Employees). Are serious issues going unresolved or unaddressed in your workplace? Are there small whispers about employee unrest that you tend to ignore? Don’t be surprised if your lack of open communication and receptivity lead to low employee engagement and demoralization.


Is your organization sending mixed messages about putting employees first? Have you left an organization because you felt under appreciated? Feel free to share your comments below.


Don’t let your best employees walk away without knowing how to get them to stay.  Jumpstart:HR provides both corporate culture analysis and on-going managed HR services to help identify key cultural challenges that hinder employee engagement and to help improve the consistency, reliability and knowledge of your Human Resources Department.