HCM: the business version of the welfare system?

As a result of my recent successes in ‘accounting for people’ (HR Hartley, 15 February), our distinguished chairman, Lord H, decreed that I should attend the next briefing of City advisers – “Give them a flavour of our… hang on, it’s here somewhere… Human Capital Reporting.

The noble Lord has never had much truck with HR, and only recently stopped calling us the “welfare department”. So a City visit was a big deal indeed, and something I needed to plan properly. First stop was the CIPD website, where I downloaded Human Capital Reporting – An internal perspective, and was relieved to read, “This is not a theoretical or conceptual guide, but a practical ‘how to’.”

Three weeks later, the big day had come. I was last to speak and started my piece with the key conclusions outlined in the CIPD report.

“Human capital should be viewed as a bridging concept linking business strategy and HR practices. It is a precarious asset – the potential mobility of individual employees could and can undermine an organisation’s ability to deliver.

“It is also a paradoxical asset – the qualities that individuals bring, notably flexibility, mobility and personal commitment, the very same factors that create competitive value, are some of the most difficult to measure. And of course, human capital measurement is context-dependent”.

I can’t pretend it went well, and as we left the lift on the way out, I could hear Lord H muttering something about “bloody welfare people”.

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