You make good points relative to the delayed impact of human capital practices like training and leadership and certainly it’s difficult to find causal relationships between those practices and organizational outcomes. But, I don’t think that’s enough of an explanation for me. When we are pressed for an answer on this question, it can’t be that our best response is that:
- It won’t pay off for a long time (and you may not ever know that it does) and
- You probably can’t measure it if or when it does.
That doesn’t mean that these aren’t important issues to be aware of, it just means that there has to be more to the story.
The more I think about this issue, there are a couple of dimensions to this question that maybe we aren’t considering on the surface.
- Personal accountability of the employee seems to have disappeared in this discussion. I think that as employees, like in many areas of our lives, we’ve been happy to hand over the responsibility for our happiness and satisfaction to someone else–in this case, our employer. One of the reasons that bad management persists, in my opinion, is because we lack courage to confront it. I know that this may be easier said than done, but at some point, we have to take responsibility for shaping how we want to be treated at work.
- People increasingly expect to do work that matters, that has purpose. So, perhaps what we are talking about is not simply a business issue, but a moral issue. Clearly, there are multiple different ways to achieve productivity at work. But maybe there’s an emerging moral responsibility on the part of organizations to create workplaces where people can both do work with purpose and that allow people to grow and flourish as individuals. So, maybe what we tend to discuss isn’t necessarily the “best” way, but the “right” way.
What do you think?