29 October 2016

Human as Resources or as Assets - Lao Zi explains how to have staff engagement in DaoDeJing 75

How can you have staff engagement? How you see your staff, as resources or as assets in your production makes all the differences. Lao Zi explains the effects and the answer becomes obvious in DaoDeJing 75. 
DaoDeJing 75 Text and Translation:

民之饥,以其上食税之多,是以饥。
The people are hungry. This is because the top is taxing too much and so they are hungry.

民之难治,以其上之有为,是以难治。
The people are hard to govern. This is because the top has too many policies and projects to burden and upset them so that they are difficult to govern.

民之轻死,以其求生之厚,是以轻死。
The people disregard lives. This is because making a living is very hard and so they disregards lives.

夫唯无以生为者,是贤于贵生。
Hence, it seems it is wiser to try not making a living better than to value living.
(It is better that the rulers/bosses don't see the values of lives because they exploit and abuse them).

Human as Resource or as Assets
In the past, even now, we still have offices named as "Human Resources". In the past, they are called "People Management". It is better they stay as "People" rather than treating people as resources to be consumed in the production process. People are not treated as people but as raw materials to be used up is what Lao Zi is telling us here. That is why the staff is not engaged, they are not paid well (so we have minimum wage laws), they are depressed (they only come alive after work!).

Realizing that "Human Resource" is a bad name, it was changed to "Human Capital".  It was argued that staff is not a cost but rather an asset that appreciate with time. If you give your staff training, your staff can increase their productivity. Furthermore, staff is creative. The future of any company depends on innovation. Innovation comes from the people, not a material capital thing. So, it is better to use People rather than Human Capital.

Lao Zi is reminding us that people must be treated as people and not as resources or even capital to be exploited. Otherwise, you will find suffering, depressions, insubordination, sabotages and low productivity. More programs and policies will not fix the problems. Just simply treat people as people, with aspiration, feelings, relationships, intelligence and creativity. Daniel Pink's Drive 3.0 tells us that people want :

1. Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives.
2. Mastery — the urge to get better and better at something that matters.
3. Purpose — the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves

Facilitate rather than control is the way to happy staff, happy customers, and happy owners in that order.

Lim Liat (c) 29 Oct 2016
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