If It’s All About the People….

We’ve heard it so many times we sometimes want to puke: it’s all about the people. People are our biggest asset. Without a laser-sharp focus on human capital, we are worthless as a company. Yadda yadda. Part of our cynicism comes not from the fact that it’s not true–it most certainly is–but the fact that words rarely lead to action in this area.

This feeling is backed up by a new study from Mercer Human Resource Consulting, which confirms the sad truth that much of corporate-speak about its people is more hot air than anything. A two-year study of the annual reports of the 100 largest publicly-traded companies shows that only about 20% even mention human capital and how it contributes to the company’s results in its annual reports. About 25% of the companies “offer platitudes,” according to its authors, Mercer consultants Rick Guzzo and Haig Nalbantian, while even those that do talk about the importance of human capital rarely try to quantify exactly how its approach to its people helps improve its numbers.

This is hardly surprising, but somehow, I find it depressing. If people are so important, shouldn’t they get as much ink in a company’s discussion of its last year as a new bond offering or an inventory overhaul? Why do you think this subject continues to remain so poorly developed?