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Are Humans truly a liability?


This has been a question that always came to my mind, “if your workforce is the reason you are successful, why does it sit on the liability side of the balance sheet?”

The human element, in any business, has always been treated as a liability. Simply because they are an expense. Over 20+ years of my corporate career, I have seen teams getting formed with the sole purpose of reducing the human footprint in any organisation. The best part is that we all feel proud of the fact too. 

Think about your Six Sigma process, quality and re-engineering teams, Robotics and Automation systems. Their single success measure – how many FTE (Fulltime employees) savings did this generate? The basic comparison has always been against the human efficiency and rightly so… A human is one of the most evolved races, who have been the pioneers of efficiency – well that is what we think. 

Many  a times when I enter a mall (have not been there for a while now), the parking has an automated barrier, however there is a person who attends to it, issues a ticket, collects the money, and opens the gate. The same is the case with the automated check machines at the airport- we have people to tell people how to use the machine or rather work the machine for other people.

Well every time there is a crisis, the humans are let off the work, So my question is – Why hire them in the first place?

  • To cover up for the lag in your systems

  • Maybe it’s a stop gap measure

  • Lack of future planning

  • The technology does not exist currently. 

The term we use for the above examples are human intervention. And the core belief is, 

Reduce human intervention – Increase Production / efficiency – Earn more profits. 

As a business, we need humans to work, for any one of the above factors, however what we forget is that your consumer is a human. 

Anything and everything that you create is consumed by humans. The person who pays for the service or product or produce is a human. And if the humans cannot earn anymore, what will they consume.  

You will be familiar with the term purchasing power, 100% of the worlds purchasing power is based on an individual’s earnings, so every time a business hires an individual, it is contributing to the individuals purchasing power, and in turn to the purchasing power of the economy. 

What happens when you get laid off the purchasing power of the individual takes a hit and in turn the economy does too. 

Technology is an aid to help humans, technology is not going to buy products, or services, its us humans who have that need. Being employed (revenue generator or income earner) is like being the honeybee of the economic lifecycle. And every single one is important! 

Food for thought: Should your job role have an expiry date? I think so, it will have the business plan manpower better and also the employees can plan better. 

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