Is The Saying: ‘Employees Are A Company’s Greatest Asset’ A Scam?
Employees come first or people are a company’s greatest asset, are these sayings scams?. The pandemic has pushed many people to relook at the real value of employees in organizations. Since the start of the pandemic, most companies started looking at different ways to reduce costs, increase cash flow and optimize expenses. Employers lost patience and focused more on the bottom line, numbers & margin gain. Consequently, getting rid of workers has become the most attractive and easy way.
Our belief is before downsizing the workforce, CEOs, employers, and decision-makers should spark creative thinking on how to save as many jobs as possible. They must in fact innovate on other options to reduce cost. If we reflect on the best way to survive the pandemic, the first question that CEOs should ask when it comes to layoffs: is downsizing the workforce truly necessary?.
If you are the CEO of an organization and as a leader, your role is to think broadly about how to face the negative consequences of Covid 19. Layoffs should be the last solution.
Consequences of employees layoff
Companies responded differently to the pandemic, some granted long leave without pay, others chose to downgrade the salaries. Many big organizations sent mass emails terminating workers without justification or background for the decision.
If employees’ layoffs become a must, then leaders should be prepared first with analysis and information. The decision should not be based purely on who costs the organization more. Unfortunately, many companies fail to realize that they have a tremendous long-term capital investment in their people, degrading workers value will only lead to the following;
- Employees’ trust in their management or faith in the company’s vision will be difficult to restore.
- Companies may lay off the low-end producers, but in doing so it creates uncertainty that causes others to leave.
- The first people to leave due to uncertainty in the company are the best people because they can always get another job somewhere else.
The climate of uncertainty that follows employees’ layoff, therefore, always guarantees a reduction in the quality of the staff, not just the quantity. In some companies, good performers were terminated just because they cost more. That’s Dumb! losing top talents can never be a winning business strategy. The company loses good players’ contribution, know-how, and expertise. Moreover, the remaining workers will become fearful for their job when they see key players leaving.
What was the value of employees prior to the pandemic?
Prior to the pandemic, many organizations followed the trend ”Employees Come First”, employees' happiness and employees being the greatest assets. Even some changed the human resources function to human capital focalizing on people.
Companies developed diverse projects to enhance the workplace environment in order to increase engagement and productivity. Governments inaugurated Ministries of Happiness and praised companies with awards serving the same purpose.
All the efforts have been made redundant. Workers now can smell insincerity from miles away. The wealthy CEOs using manipulative strategies to churn out profits. Employee engagement programs and happiness initiatives turned out to be the fake reality.
Sadly, the most critical aspect that profit-first organizations will lose during this time is employees’ trust. The future will be mainly challenging to earn respect and believe again. In fact, sacrificing workers for profit gain will impact not only the employer branding but also whoever left from employees working in the organization.
Bringing real sense to employees’ experience, engagement, performance management, even retaining talents would be difficult after the pandemic.
Stop employees layoff. Regain their trust before it is over!
Companies have a great opportunity today to rebuild their reputation before the pandemic is over. Employees don’t expect too much too soon. However, by being consistent, listening to employees’ concerns, and admitting wrong decisions, organizations will regain trust.
Employers going the extra mile by providing today additional benefits to their employees will be remembered forever. These organizations believe truly that their first priority is their people and the second is profitability.
In the 1970s, Jack Welch was a huge proponent of that adage. But within the last ten years he has renounced it, calling it ‘the dumbest idea in the world and saying:
”Shareholder value is a result, not strategy. Your main constituencies are your employees, your customers, and your products. Managers and investors should not set share price increases as their overarching goal. Short-term profits should be aligned with an increase in the long term value of a company”.
There are means to achieving that outcome. Putting employees and customers first, ahead of profits.
In the future, when we will look back at the crisis, employees will remember moments of truth when companies put profits before people. CEOs who choose to win today will be seen as short-term thinkers tomorrow.
My prediction is that we will start soon witnessing employees’ thinking transition. In other words, only companies who succeeded to respect, protect their employees will gain their loyalty, integrity and will be trusted.
The organizations that earn loyalty now, when employees feel vulnerable, will win out when the business cycle returns to the growth stage and the best employees have their choice of jobs.