In 2016, it seemed as though the United States was always marking time. Everyone was waiting to see which way the presidential election would go and the economy chugged along at 1.6 percent, according to a report by the U.S. Commerce Department. This was a slip from 2.6 percent in 2015—the worst performance since 2011. By contrast, 2017 has been a banner year for the stock market. Optimism over tax incentives and reduced regulation has fueled speculation and enticed money into the market.
Business leaders have always been scrutinized for their decision making. In 1914, Henry Ford was both denounced as a fool and praised for doubling wages of factory employees from $2.34 to $5 per day. In 1987, Merck & Company decided to give away a cure for river blindness for free, an unfathomable choice for most pharmaceuticals, because they recognized the cost of the drug would be too high for impoverished international markets.
The first thing that comes to mind about a business’ strategy for human capital is people. Businesses must have the right people in the right roles who are energized to be efficient and profitable. The question that top executives should be asking is why their best people stay. They must determine what it takes to keep the best employees engaged and enthused about the work, as well as their individual status in the organization. The best source of that information is the employees themselves.
People who design and construct things are a different breed. There is no factory, no store, and they often work out in the open and all kinds of weather. Cutting corners in construction entails risk. Misjudging one task could mean threatening the safety of people or the integrity of the project. Success hinges on the decisions and actions of the team and each team requires leadership.