HR: Cost or Asset

As a company grows, sometimes there’s a subtle shift in the owner’s thinking. The entrepreneur begins to think of staff more in terms of cost than asset as his wage bill rises. There’s health insurance, pensions payments and benefits & perks to consider among other things.

At the fledgling stages of the business, you may hear the founder tout the oft repeated phrase, “our people are our greatest assets.” This is true. At inception, the people’s brain trust grows the company. However, as revenue begets more revenue and income sources diversify and become more structural, things change. The complexity of growing a business means the entrepreneur begins to spend less face time with individual staff and layers of management are introduced. Entrepreneurs have less time to pat staff on the back for a job well done. They fail to notice the little things like when a staff is under tremendous domestic pressure – things they would have noticed 2 or 3 years ago.

When this begins to happen, the business needs an HR structure (or for smaller organisations, an HR Champion). An HR Champion documents the cultural history of the company and becomes the evangelist who propagates it internally. He brings the needs & challenges of staff to the foreground and fights for them at Management meetings. Without this person, over time, staff welfare will become a neglected totem of corporate culture and will be relegated until it is completely forgotten.

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