Many companies say that their employees are their most important assets. Few do justice to the idea; fewer still understand that the worker-as-asset metaphor is outdated and misguided. Shifting labor markets have taught managers this lesson: as workers gain power in negotiating the terms of employment, they behave less like assets, and more like free-agent owners of investable capital. Their capital is the ability, behavior, effort, and time they contribute to a company. Like players in any market, they expect a healthy return on their investment.
In Human Capital, author Thomas O. Davenport explores this worker-as-investor notion, describing what it means to both employer and employee. He explains how companies who treat workers as investors can attract, develop, and retain people who get so much value from the organization—and give so much back in return—that they create a competitive advantage. Human Capital can help executives and managers build organizations worthy of investment by people whose human capital means the difference between success and failure in a competitive world.