Friday, June 25, 2010

The variable humanity of employees

Vineet Nayar, Financial Times:

When you take employees seriously, show them you value their work, and make it clear that you believe the business depends on them, the strangest things take place: employees perk up, think for themselves, take responsibility, stop delegating upward, and put their heart and soul into their work as never before. This has almost immeasurably positive effects on every aspect of the enterprise.

Capitalism works on very basic rules, but we mustn't let what is straightforward about it distract us from its constant dynamism. Capital will expand into any area that it believes will yield an advantage, so it is not coincidental that today's "business visionaries" are pushing into territory traditionally neglected by the profit motive. This includes forays into "social technologies" of the sort described above.

The basic idea here is that within a context of appropriating value from people who can't live independently of the employer-employee relation, greater value may be obtained by treating people more like human beings and less like objects of utility -- because ultimately they are both. To treat people only as objects is to deny their human side, which is itself dynamic and a potential source of value.

Of course, we needn't speculate on the implications of treating people only as human beings, since this would preclude them from ever being "employees" in the first place! What remains constant for employees under capitalism is their utility; what is variable, according to the business visionary, is their humanity.

1 comment:

DPirate said...

Agreed. And it is terribly pathetic that that paragraph warrants space in an article.