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Food for Thought

October 1, 1997
Related Topics: Corporate Culture, Ethics, Featured Article
The greatest asset of any nation is the spirit of its people, and the greatest danger that can menace any nation is the breakdown of that spirit. -- George B. Courtelyou

Thoughts to Ponder:
What would our work lives be like if we truly made our employees our most important asset? We may say this is what we do, yet everyone knows that our financial assets and capabilities are the most important thing. Is it possible for us to lead this change? Can we believe it ourselves, that if we practiced the ideas expressed by Tom Morris we could create byproducts of financial assets, satisfied customers and a workplace that hums?

What would our work lives be like if we incorporated ancient truths into the workplace? Employees all wish to utilize their talents, skills and abilities. What if we shifted the orientation of job design and began to structure jobs around the talents we have rather than structuring the job around the tasks of the company? That way, employees would be doing those tasks they do well and enjoy doing. The article begs us to look at the workplace from a different orientation or vantage point. We have valuable employees who want to contribute. Yet, asking them to do jobs that don't produce satisfaction for them doesn't do anything to lead to a stronger company. It only leads to turnover, low morale and mediocre progress. How can that be good? Are we capable and willing to see this in another way?

What would work life be like if we understood that we're more than just our tasks and jobs, defined by job titles? We're human beings with an inner desire for happiness, for using ourselves in a meaningful way, for contributing. Inside each of us is a philosopher, a thinker, a magnificent essence that desires to express. What if we began to see that good business is truly being in touch with people-not calling them "intellectual capital," but seeing them as alive, expressing, interested human beings? What if we helped inspire them to contribute? What would the workplace be like?

Workforce, October 1997, Vol. 76, No. 10, p. 76.

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