You have a great deal of control over whether human resources are an asset or a liability. (Courtesy Flickr/Creative Commons Photo by Thomas Hawk / On This Earth https://tinyurl.com/yd6cm74j, no changes made)
Regardless of your industry, business model, revenues, geographic location, or any other factor specific to your business, there are three fundamental truths to keep in mind. First, your business is dependent on some form of human input, i.e., human resources. Second, those human resources are either one of your biggest assets or one of your greatest liabilities. Third, despite common misperceptions and fears, you have a great deal of control over whether those human resources are an asset or a liability.
Before we address these three truths any further, we should consider the term “human resources.” Most of us do not get excited or energetic when we hear this term or “HR.” Given past experiences, we may see HR as a burden, or an obstacle standing in the way of an action we want to take. Some of us may envision scenes from The Office and our own experiences with ineffective and dispassionate HR representatives who are out of touch with the realities of the modern workplace and its accompanying challenges. These reactions are understandable when we look at how most businesses, managers, employees and even popular culture have approached human resources over the past two decades—an afterthought or necessary annoyance that is barely human and rarely resourceful. Though understandable, we must overcome this mentality in approaching our human resources if we want to positively impact our families, workforces, and communities for generations to come.
The fact that your business will be dependent on some form of human resources is hopefully self-evident. Whether your business model involves independent contractors or employees, services or manufacturing, and no matter whether it is a privately held start up solopreneur venture or a Fortune 50 publicly traded company, you rely on human input to plan and execute your activities. Thus, we all have an interest in human resources.
Given the always-changing laws and other factors (including the fact that as humans, we are quite complex), there are many potential pitfalls and challenges in this area. If human resources are not approached properly, these resources become a liability, and your business may fall prey to these pitfalls even faster than you might expect given the current enforcement climate and general awareness in light of social media (think #metoo). At the same time, if you do approach human resources properly, your investment will result in stronger individuals. Those stronger individuals create stronger families, one by one. Those stronger families create stronger communities. Stronger communities create generational growth and success. Of course, it also helps that those same stronger individuals also work smarter, whether they are providing services or producing widgets, so that you have additional resources to reinvest.
Whether your human resources are your biggest asset or your greatest liability lies largely within your control, and specifically in how and when you approach this area. For example, businesses that take a proactive approach to all aspects of human resources from the earliest planning stages and view this as an area of investment tend to have lower turn-over, higher worker satisfaction and the accompanying increased productivity, and far fewer legal battles. These businesses thrive. In contrast, businesses that take a reactive approach to human resources often find themselves spending far more resources (time, money, and mental energy) on fighting legal challenges brought by disgruntled workers, competitors, and government enforcement agencies, which directly impacts the resources available for business growth and threatens survival.
Ultimately, as entrepreneurs, business owners and managers, we directly impact our communities through the way in which we manage the human resources that have been entrusted to us. Whether that impact is positive or negative, small or large, fleeting or lasting for generations, it all depends upon how intentional we are in approaching human resources day in and day out. Is your approach to human resources, today, creating an asset or a liability for tomorrow?
Geoff Hash is the co-founder of The EiroBridge Group, a consulting firm committed to helping businesses thrive. Mr. Hash is also a licensed attorney who, for the past 15 years, has worked with business owners, including Tribal Governments and Native-Owned business owners, providing both litigation and counseling services in the area of employment law.