What If Companies Managed People as Carefully as They Manage Money?

Written by Eric Garton

Eric Garton
Eric Garton

This article was published on

HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW

Eric Garton is a partner in Bain & Company’s Chicago office and leader of the firm’s Global Organization practice. He is coauthor of Time, Talent, Energy: Overcome Organizational Drag and Unleash Your Team’s Productive Power (HBR Press, March 2017).

Today’s executives spend a lot of time managing the balance sheet, despite the fact that it doesn’t represent their company’s scarcest resource. Financial capital is relatively abundant and cheap. According to Bain’s Macro Trends Group, the global supply of capital stands at nearly 10 times global GDP. As a result of capital superabundancy, global quantitative easing and relatively low demand for investments in R&D and capital projects, the after-tax cost of borrowing for many companies is at or near inflation, making the real cost of borrowing close to zero.

In contrast, today’s scarcest resource is your human capital, as measured by the time, talent and energy of your workforce. Time, whether measured by hours in a day or days in a career, is finite. Difference-making talent is also scarce. The average company considers only about 15% of its employees to be difference makers. Finding, developing, and retaining this talent is hard — so much so that the business press refers to a “war” for talent. Energy, too, is difficult to come by. Though intangible, it can be measured by the number of inspired employees in your workforce. Based on our research, inspired employees are three times more productive than dissatisfied employees, but they are rare. For most organizations, only one out of eight employees is inspired.

Continue reading on Harvard Business Review


This article was published on

HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW
Eric Garton
Eric Garton

Eric Garton is a partner in Bain & Company’s Chicago office and leader of the firm’s Global Organization practice. He is coauthor of Time, Talent, Energy: Overcome Organizational Drag and Unleash Your Team’s Productive Power (HBR Press, March 2017).

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