Our Greatest Asset is our People…but do you Know Why?

Saying your people are your greatest asset is a very nice marketing statement. But would your integrity be questioned because there is no sustainable application to make it happen. The truth is, people aren’t your greatest asset, unless they’re provided guidance on how to build stronger relationships at work. When relationships at work are strong employees perform better as individuals and in teams.

Decades of research prove that individuals and teams that get along dramatically outperform those who don’t in almost every important business metric. In fact, the single most cited reason (80%) why people leave their job is because of poor relationships at work. Individuals who have stronger relationships at work substantially outperform individuals who don’t, they’re more productive, more profitable, more innovative, have less accidents, contribute more…and on and on.

That’s compelling, but this is bewildering: Research reveals that on average companies spend $2,000 per year on leadership development yet employee engagement and customer engagement is at all-time lows. Also, more than 60% of CFOs do not know the return on their human capital investments. In fact, for the last 6 years in a row the number one thing cited to be preventing organizational growth is leadership development. I was asked the other day, “Why does it seem like there are more leadership consultants than there are good leaders?” Interesting question when put into perspective. After all trust is low, confidence in leadership is low, intentions to leave are high. In general, organizations are fascinated by leadership programs that do not give people the tools for building stronger work relationship skills.

So the reality is, many executives don’t know their people are (really) their greatest asset and they sure don’t know how to turn them into a great asset if they aren’t. For many the statement, “Our Greatest Asset is our People,” appears to be nothing more than marketing hype.

All of this at a time when organizations are trying to do even more with fewer people, it’s vital that work relationships are the strongest they can possibly be, and do it at scale across the organization. The relationships at work movement isn’t about making people happier; it’s about making organizations more productive. It’s about revenues and profits. The best companies are made up of more engaged employees. Employees are more engaged when their work relationships are the strongest.

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6 Responses to Our Greatest Asset is our People…but do you Know Why?

  • In your article you mention the investment in leadership training and then make a comparison to low customer and employee engagement scores. We have to be careful when we make those comparisons simply because one doesn’t really have anything to do with the other, it’s just not that simple and I feel you’ve over simplified that correlation.

    I know companies that spend 10 times that and still don’t see a change in engagement. Don’t get me wrong, there can be a connection, but it would have to do with what type of leadership training and the effectiveness of that training,which in itself is a whole other issue.

    The latest research from Mercer and Associates shows that trust is improving, so it’s not at an all time low, but it certainly was for a long time.
    I can’t agree with your statement that executives don’t know that there employees are there greatest asset, I just don’t think they really care. That coupled with the three generations that are currently working in every average company, makes the people side of the business complex. There is a tendency to paint everyone with the same brush, but that just doesn’t work anymore, we have different groups of employees with different needs and different values.
    Employees are more engaged when they have autonomy and the ability to master their skills. They want to understand how they contribute to the companies success and they want to be challenged. As soon as they stop learning and stop being challenged, is the moment they pack up their tent and leave. I’m not certain that I agree about the need for having strong relationships, I do however understand the need for community and collaboration, but that is very different than the need for strong relationships.
    Just my two cents.

    • John,

      Thanks for sharing your two cents. For sure leadership is very complex. Companies are not spending money in the right place when it comes to leadership as well as spending on bad products. I do not paint everyone with a broad stoke and say they want autonomy and to master their skills. Some like more oversight and some like to have more of a broad skill set with no desire to become a Master at anything. We do know strong relationships deliver more beneficial collaboration and less conflict. We are facing a time in our society where we must take on the responsibility of helping our employees to improve their interpersonal relationship skills; emails, text messages, remote workers, over utilization, are all impacting our ability to connect beyond the superficial. Our mission is to help organizations build relationships at work that last…fast. We view strong relationships as the bedrock that all else can be built upon.

      Sincere Regards,


  • Great post and I love your blog and its focus on employee engagement. You might also be interested in this post: http://www.concerro.com/blog/?p=357

  • Really good post. Spot on.

  • Great blog, well written too. Thank you!

  • Part of the problem may be that employers underestimate the reasons that employees work for their organizations. It’s not always about the pay, or the benefits. How employees are treated while at work and beyond is key.

    Managers need to understand that many employees don’t just want a paycheck. They want to be partners of sorts. Employees need and want to understand the goals of the organization and how their role fits in. They want to be acknowledged for the work that they do and be rewarded in kind.

    They want managers to understand that life is not just their work and that they have lives outside of work. They also want leaders who have a moral compass and don’t just care about the bottom line.

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