Investment in human capital

Digitization 10.02.2020
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Smart companies will realize that employee goodwill is the key to exciting work

In 2020, we will see the development of the next generation of management tools. These will help people explore, take risks, feel autonomy and gain a sense of connection to the company they work for.

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Motivation is the best investment

Although CEOs tend to say that people are the engine of growth for a company and that their employees are its most valuable asset, our current financial reporting system does not emphasize investing in human capital. In quarterly and annual reports, activities such as buying a warehouse are described as investments. Spending on employee wellbeing is often treated as a cost. In 2020, we will understand that human resources, currently one of the lowest rungs in a company ladder, will be elevated to the same position as research and development. To benefit from human capital, companies will need to change their focus and start thinking more about the nature of motivation. More and more of our work is being done between our ears, and less is done in a way that people can see and monitor. Next year, companies will find ways to increase their investment in employee goodwill.

Independence instead of control

Goodwill can be seen as the gap between the minimum someone needs to do to keep their job, and the maximum they will do if they are really excited about doing it. It is something that is completely at the discretion of the individual. And goodwill can be increased by treating employees fairly and giving them a sense of autonomy.

Invest in your own work

In 2020, we will change our systems of management, control and reporting with these insights in mind. We will reduce bureaucracy, which is the enemy of autonomy because it tells employees that their company views them as robots executing a task. And we will start to evaluate companies with an eye towards human motivation. The companies who will eventually be successful will be those who manage to keep their employees invested in their work.

About the author

Dan Ariely is professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, USA

Who are we? How do we live today? And how will digitization our lives? How the future will unfold is preoccupying society more than ever, with engineers, doctors, politicians – each one of us, in fact – seeking answers. This report on investment in human capital is one of many contributions that shed light on the theme “digitization” from a new, inspiring perspective. We are publishing them here as part of our series “Impact”.