The Human Being in the Spotlight of
Corporate Success

by Jennifer Ebermann

In a world that seems to rotate faster every day and in which the word “globalisation” plays an increasingly prominent role in all areas, one factor becomes more and more important for major corporations: the promotion and the continuing education of their motivated and qualified employees. Within a global economy, in which the financial resources are not the only necessary conditions able to ensure a competitive advantage, a new form of capital, the “human capital” is valorized. This new evolution towards employee-centred strategies can clearly be identified when observing the corporations, the latter being dependent upon the attainment of their long-term goals. The human being moves centre stage of the corporate success and the willingness/capacity to perform as well as the knowledge become the main focus of strategic Human Resource planning. The employee as a mere cost and production factor — soon a myth?

As the 10th Annual Global CEO Survey, that was carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers and launched in Davos at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in January 2007, found out, „[…] knowledge, people, culture and the degree to which stakeholders collaborate […]” are “[…] critical on the journey towards globalisation”1. When asked which lasting achievement could stand as their legacies, 21% of the participating CEOs mentioned employee-oriented issues, such as for example the development of skills and talents through training and the creation of a pleasant work environment. 2.

But what can be understood when speaking about “human capital” and why, during the last years and in some cultures, did the notion sometimes suffer from a negative interpretation?3. Although many different ways have been used to describe “human capital” it can be said that it is „[…] a way of defining and categorizing the skills and abilities as used in employment and as they otherwise contribute to the economy”.4. Many older definitions nevertheless explicitly identify human capital as being “a means of production”.5. It can clearly be seen that the negative connotation of the idea stems from the possible comparison and equation of humans with machines and other production factors. Human capital becomes in a way substitutable which also adds to the insecurity such a definition creates.

As a matter of fact human beings and individuals are more than a mere “factor of production” and one thing is for sure: through dismissals and restructurings it is certainly possible to reduce costs in the short term but in the long run it can be noticed that surplus value is destroyed. The complete existence of a company could even be jeopardized.

Therefore, humans should be at the heart of every corporation or company. It is of utmost importance to create the conditions that allow qualified and motivated staff members to feel at ease at their workplace and identify with their corporate culture. Only then a company can ensure that technical and professional knowledge will not be lost for example due to an elevated staff turnaround rate. As the above-mentioned PwC survey found out, especially the CEOs of the Asian/Pacific region are extremely concerned about the availability of specialists and key skills.6. To be able to guarantee that the development and lifestyle needs of their key employees are met becomes a worldwide priority for corporations.7.

Keeping this background in mind, the agency x-act Ltd. in Zurich has developed a tool which emphasizes the motivation and the long-term dedication of the employees in order to achieve corporate objectives and goals. x-act is one of the leading Swiss agencies in the field of “live communication”. Since 1996, it operates out of Zurich all around the world for clients as diverse as Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, SAP, PricewaterhouseCoopers or UBS. One of its main features is the connection of meaning and sensuousness as well as the development and implementation of stories that can be experienced. Together500+ is the name of this new tool which makes complex concepts and processes tangible by creating the appropriate analogy. For the successful turning of communication into experiences, the tool has received three event awards in Germany and in Switzerland as well as one nomination in the United States.

With Together500+, the overall common goal becomes the incentive. For the attainment of this objective, not only teamwork is necessary but also the individual with his/her skills. The capacity to work in a team and to lead groups as well as the information management skills, the organizational abilities and the social competence are required and furthered. The result is impressive and lasting: existing structures, hierarchies and geographical diversities can be maintained or voluntarily broken open.

x-act accompanies employee-centred strategies as well as communication measures; structures and processes are individually analysed and tailor-made solutions are proposed. In this regard there exists a possibility of making use of as well as customizing already developed and successfully implemented concepts (as for example “connected!” or “Corporate City”8) or to benefit from a completely new adaptation.

Finally, it can be said that the phenomenon “globalisation” as such can surely not be stopped right now. Admittedly, it brings along changes, new dimensions of space and time are explored and somehow the world is shrinking to a global village. But the globalisation bears also new chances and possibilities that should be taken advantage of. It is the right moment to embrace the new challenge and to place the human being centre stage of the economy by supporting him or her in reaching his or her full potential.

References:

  1. PricewaterhouseCoopers: 10th Annual Global CEO Survey; page 4.
  2. PricewaterhouseCoopers: 10th Annual Global CEO Survey; page 37.
  3. See for example German speaking literature.
  4. Definition of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_capital
  5. See for example articles by Gary Becker.
  6. PricewaterhouseCoopers: 10th Annual Global CEO Survey; pages 38-43.
  7. Please see PricewaterhouseCoopers: 10th Annual Global CEO Survey; page 37.
  8. For additional information, please visit www.together500plus.com


Jennifer Ebermann is Senior Project Manager, Corporate Events of x-act Ltd., a live communication/event marketing agency in Switzerland. International clients include Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, SAP, PricewaterhouseCoopers and UBS. Please visit www.x-act.ch for additional information on the agency, and you can experience Together500+ here - www.together500plus.com .

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