[Human] Capital Calibration

[Human] Capital Calibration

Manufacturing equipment has come a long way since 1964. The environment in which you put your equipment?  Back then, a somewhat level floor, a power supply, fans for HVAC, and what was a little grease on the floor? You turned it on, and assumed it would run.  When you invest in a sophisticated machine today, you may build a special room, complete with its own HVAC and filtration. You wouldn’t dream of operating this equipment without the needed care and calibration. Your organization ensures that those responsible for the care and upkeep of this huge capital investment have the requisite technical expertise to protect your investment; you wouldn’t dream of leaving it to someone that didn’t know what they were doing. Yet why are we okay doing that to our largest investment: our employees.

The current conversation about “back to the office” seems a lot more like 1964, the year that Gary Becker published his first book on human capital. He rocked the world of economics and business with his work on the value of human capital ––  people were one of your most valuable assets.  It paid to further invest in them now that their life span was longer and technological advances made new skill acquisition imperative.

We sit here in 2021 as the seeming randomness of Covid deaths and quarantining has given Americans plenty of time to pause to reflect on the meaning of life. For many Americans, they are finally understanding their worth as a unique model of human capital.  They’ve grown to understand the distinctive sets of skills that they have acquired, honed, and refined over the years AND the optimum conditions under which they perform.  When an employer doesn’t understand that, enter…

The Great Resignation

One of my favorite Total Rewards thought leaders, John Bremen, has written a great article, advising how organizations can turn The Great Resignation into the Great Hire.  He very rightly points out that more people have been hired in 2021 than have quit – which side of the equation is your organization on?

Solution? It’s not about going back to “the way we always did things.”  It IS about recognizing the conditions under which employees can turn in peak performance and earn their organizations more gold.

 

Business up top, pajamas on the bottom!

Business up top, pajamas on the bottom!

By Lisa Aggarwal

I really thought that I was prepared.  

As a Catholic school student, I endured endless detention threats regarding dress code violations. As an HR professional, I have mediated endless dress code disputes. I’ve coached clients on how to appear more professional via their attire. Corporate offices were previously “business casual,” now they are “CASUAL casual.” It seems that so much of our culture is linked to our external appearance. We are even taught to dress for the role we seek. I thought I had nailed how to dress for success. 

But this is a new day. Just as Chicago has issued a new stay-at-home advisory for the next 30 days in response to rising Covid-19 cases, I get hit with these two articles. On the same day, within five minutes. 

We know that video conferences and remote work have opened a gateway to a more casual corporate uniform–but are sweatsuits the new power suit? Sometimes I will throw a blazer on to give the impression I mean business (all while wearing my yoga pants)…but now I need one with shoulder pads? Maybe I should just keep a “Zoom shirt” in my office (by office, I mean kitchen) for video conferences and call it a day. Hopefully I don’t end up like one of my countless friends who accidentally have stood up during an online meeting only to expose their pajama bottoms. 

Today, it seems that most of us are just seeking comfort, in any form. Perhaps this will cause a subliminal shift to pay less attention to external appearance and more to an employee’s value and contribution. Or one can only hope!

How has your business handled dress codes, or lack thereof? 

How flexible has Covid-19 made you?

How flexible has Covid-19 made you?

It might seem obvious to speak about three women upon whom I am dependent for my body not seizing up on me from sitting for seven months—but it is not THAT stretching I am referring to.

One of the best business books I picked up in a long time is Stretch – Unlock the Power of Less – and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined. One of the things most appreciated is that the author, an organizational development expert, provides research to back up many of my own theories from years of observing. A key theme in the book is resourcefulness—making do with what you have at hand versus waiting for the perfect desk, office, or moment.

In my own life, one of the best examples of the resourcefulness that I’ve experienced during this pandemic comes from three people who have spent the past several years teaching me how to stretch, literally. Using different modalities, Stephanie, Kathleen, and Sarah have stretched, and strengthened me, using different aspects of PT, Gyrotonic, and Pilates. In the midst of a national pandemic, I was not ready to give up my own stretching, especially as being confined to quarters made me feel like I was shrinking.

Exactly as Scott Sonenshein describes, these three women on whom I have come to rely on for my physical well-being, quickly figured out how their other clients and I could improvise without a studio and equipment. Anyone who is familiar with Pilates or Gyrotonic understands that they typically involve elaborate equipment, but I quickly sourced some additional foam rollers and my physical therapist sent out therapy bands to several of her clients. Being an early lover of Zoom, I was able to lend a hand in coordinating us all online. One day we decided that the screen definition was a little too good when one of the instructors could detect a muscle group that was not engaging!

All three of these lifesavers have invented new techniques, improvised equipment for clients who didn’t have weights at home (soup cans are just fine!) and focused on what was most important—the physical health and well-being of their clients.

Where are places that you have stretched?

And now back to our regularly scheduled program(ming)

And now back to our regularly scheduled program(ming)

It’s mid-September, when people should be getting:

  • Back from vacations
  • Back to school
  • Back to work

Except 

  • Vacations? Very few people took those, certainly not the ones they had anticipated
  • The whole school thing—depends 
  • Back to work … or back to Zoom?

Yet, there is a sense that people feel like they should be getting back into a routine, like there should be some sense of normal to return to … that normal most of us left in mid-March. 

We have been collecting articles and prophecies on the post-Covid world, especially the post-Covid workplace since April. Yet we are nowhere near that. Standing in line for an elevator the other day, I was speculating that perhaps printers of large, durable floor stickers are the winners in this Covid-economy. 

So how do those at the helm of businesses, be they large or small, attempt to strategize for this new world? You need to have a monocle on one eye and a telescope on the other. Even to survive in the medium term will require innovation, and that requires your best people.  

Right now, all your folks are stretched and stressed, so assume your best folks are as well. Your best folks might be the most stressed and stretched because they are probably conscientious at everything they do. So, value those capable of driving the innovation, and be aware of what will make them productive right now. You might never know about the immuno-suppressed partner or parent that prevents that healthy looking employee from coming to work each day. Your employee may have successfully hidden an auto-immune issue for years and does not want to disclose it now. Innovate your management style and develop new management skills in order to retain your key talent. 

Really think through who must return to your physical office despite the September instinct we all have. Would you rather Zoom with a trusted, vital resource, or have to start recruiting for their replacement? Read More Here 

Literary Learning Curve

Literary Learning Curve

At the outset of the quarantine, or work from home, or life via Zoom, it seemed that we were all learning, or relearning statistics—R0 and R1. Now a whole new vocabulary has emerged to describe our current life. Here are a few chuckles for this short week:

Covidiots

Sanny

Coronacranky

Quarantini

Read More Here