You may have heard the phrase ‘your employees are your best asset’ – but in talking about the best assets a business has, you may think of a vehicle you purchased. Relationships with people are complex and emotional, unlike a vehicle which is about function and performance, yet there are lessons we can learn if we go back to the similarities.

You may think that comparing employees to vehicles is the wrong analogy to make – after all, many of the problems we encounter in business with employees are down to the fact that humans are incredibly complex and operate on an emotional level. We should be treating our employees as individuals and relate to them on an emotional level. However, if we start the process of employing people from a utility standpoint, as we do with a vehicle, and get our cost, performance, utility and service processes right, we can then navigate the human element with a clearer purpose.

Here are 5 things to consider:

1. Specification

Before purchasing a vehicle, the chances are you created a list of requirements. You’re looking for something specific, and the overall utility is what’s important, not the other things that it may or may not come with. The same principle applies to your preparation when deciding that you need to hire a new employee. 

Your first step is determining the utility you need, and to forget about people at this point. You have a job or a series of jobs you need doing on a regular basis. First, you want to make a list of the tasks and the skills required to perform them. You then want to make sure that you search as widely as possible to find the right fit. 

Without looking at the utility the employee needs to serve first, you are shopping blind and might be disappointed with what features the end result does not come with.

2. Cost

Chances are you will spend the same amount on an employee as you do on a new vehicle, around the region of £25,000-£30,000. This is a large investment for any business, and you want to make sure you choose wisely. 

When it comes to vehicles this means shopping around and understanding what is out there. It takes time and you don’t want to rush the decision, as there are many options out there and you want the one that best fits your budget. Similarly, when it comes to hiring you need a good recruitment process. Make sure you have a good understanding of what’s available in your price range, and speak to as many candidates as possible before making your decision. You need to be able to test drive a vehicle to make sure you are comfortable with it, and the same applies to a new employee. Use the shopping process to try as many options as possible in real life scenarios, and consider the ways you could test drive a candidate for the suitability of the role.

3. Performance

No matter which vehicle you choose or what person you employ there is an expectation about performance. At first it is nice just to see how things run, how the employee does their job. It is a relief to be finished with the decision making process that can be long and arduous, and now focus on getting the job done. 

It is common to check the performance against what the brochure says when you first get a new vehicle – but if you do the same with people, you must understand what that performance means. Performance indicators on a car are stated against perfectly controlled and tested conditions, and may not reflect real world conditions. Likewise, employees are people and cannot always be expected to perform in perfect testing conditions – some adjustments need to be made for real life. Consider the road conditions, such as your processes and the effect on performance, or consider how you drive the vehicle and what impact that might have on motivation and engagement. 

Advertised performance is a great measure – but it is best used to tell you about your role as a manager.

4. Service and maintenance

One of the first things you become aware of with a new vehicle is the service schedule: usually annually or after so many miles. The regular service and maintenance of an employee is also of critical importance to the life you want to get out of your investment. 

People are more emotional and complex than a vehicle, so a thorough and detailed look at how the employee is doing and how everything is working should be conducted more frequently than an annual service. 

Don’t forget that if there are any problems or issues with the employee, a detailed report will be required, so you might as well start off on the right foot with a service record. Just like a vehicle servicing improves the life of the investment because it shows a commitment to the overall health of the vehicle, the same is true for an employee. A regular and thorough check on the employee, their performance and their well-being will show an investment of time in them, which will yield results. The employee will know they are being invested in. 

Failure to invest in regular checks could result in expensive repairs or costly catastrophes, neither of which a business owner can afford.

5. Assets

Both a company vehicle and an employee are assets to the company. An asset is something that has value, and hopefully maintains or increases its value, or if its value depreciates then it does so only after providing a significant amount of utility. As a business owner if you apply some effort into maintaining the value of an employee, their time with you should be one of use, utility and purpose – making light work out of jobs that once bogged you down.

Hopefully you have found value from the points made here and can see how by thinking about the 5 tips provided you can set yourself up for success. 

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