Businesses must invest in people to reap the rewards

The ‘people are our greatest assets’ clich is so often trotted out in results meetings and investor briefings, but making that a living, breathing reality in an organisation is much more of a challenge – as HR knows only too well.

More than one-third (36%) of FTSE 100 companies specifically make this claim, according to a recent report from consultancy InfoBasis (click here for more on this). But it contends that this is a cynical way for companies to ‘rubber-stamp’ their mission statements with human capital credentials without actually backing them up with true investment in their people.

Our series of ‘View from the top’ interviews challenges CEOs to prove that people truly are their greatest assets. In this week’s profile, Mervyn Davies, CEO of Standard Chartered, discusses his people initiatives and reveals how HR has a vital role to play in his organisation. He also argues that it’s about time investors started expressing more interest in what companies do with their people (click here for the article).

We expand on this theme in our news analysis. It examines the argument that companies should tell investors what training they give to staff. Training provider City & Guilds suggests the government should rethink reporting on skills, and oblige companies to include training details in financial reports.

Evidence suggests that a commitment to investing in training and developing people can yield huge dividends. Research from the US shows there can be a 52% higher return on shares in companies that invest in training.

Not that training should only benefit shareholders’ pockets. The future performance of the UK economy is at stake. If the UK doesn’t invest in improving skills, it will struggle to compete in the global marketplace. But this will mean turning traditional thinking on its head, so that training (and other investment in people) is viewed as an asset, rather than a cost to be clipped when revenues go on the slide.

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