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OPINION: People are not your biggest asset

Kirstie Langan, Business Development Executive at Apollo
Kirstie Langan, Business Development Executive at Apollo

We’ve all heard it a thousand times, ‘our people are our biggest asset’.  I don’t buy it.  I appreciate I’m perhaps failing to acknowledge the spirit of this statement, but to explain further – I don’t buy the idea that just having ‘good people’ (whatever that means) is enough to drive success.   Let’s also have a think about that notion of ‘good people’ – do we mean competent people, entertaining people, nice people, generous people, motivated people or just people who have previously worked for a business that competes with our own…?

I fully appreciate that business leaders everywhere make great efforts to hire who they deem are the good people, which of course makes perfect sense – however, what happens next?  Do good people always do well?  Are they simply overachievers who float through life on the crest of a wave, bringing success to any business that will hire them?  I suspect not.  Good people of course have skills, competencies and education that allow them to deliver results, but what it is that is going to unlock their true potential is engagement in the culture they work within and the work that they are doing.  We frequently receive compliments on our culture here at Apollo and it’s interesting to note that one of our core values is ‘enjoyment’.  By enjoyment we mean;

  • We are excited by challenge and we enjoy supporting our clients
  • We have fun by working as part of a team and supporting our colleagues
  • Staff engagement is core to our growth and our offices will be nice places to work

The most widely used set of questions to gauge employee engagement include the questions ‘at work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?’ and ‘do you have a best friend at work?’.  These questions are asked as we know, through extensive research, that employees who have an appropriate platform to perform every day, along with support and friendship in the workplace, are more engaged, more productive and drive commercial success for the businesses that employ them.

As we bounce back from an exceptionally turbulent few years in the Oil and Gas industry it is interesting to reflect on how we’ve treated our people.  We are seeing the much-anticipated return to health of our industry and, perhaps predictably, skills shortages have already begun to emerge with many businesses struggling desperately to recruit the right people.  When it comes to who is going to come out on top, I truly believe that the businesses that have made efforts to maintain their high-performance culture, develop their staff and keep careers progressing in the face of unprecedented adversity since 2015, are going to have much more success.  Those who have used this as an opportunity to excessively chisel their staff’s reward and have not invested in at least an element of development for the very people that have dragged them through the tough times … may not fare so well…

Given that a 2017 report by Gallup concluded that 51% of workers are looking to leave their current jobs, lack of engagement is clearly a big issue across industry.  And turnover isn’t the only thing to consider, this report also found that engaged employees are 17% more productive – working faster, harder and stronger because they like what they do.  So, in terms of the bottom line, if we want to have ‘good people’ who stay with us, work hard, contribute to a harmonious work environment and deliver results – we need to engage them!  And let’s face it, we would all welcome 17% more productivity I’m sure!

In conclusion, people are not your biggest asset – a culture that allows your people to perform is your biggest asset, so stop at nothing to achieve it.


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