Many employees in companies across the country do not feel very engaged in the work they do. As a result, they don’t feel inspired to do their best, and they do not provide the most value possible to the companies they work for. Fred Kiel argues in his book Return on Character that this is because employees know when they are truly being treated with respect and when they are simply being treated as “human capital”.
Kiel’s book focuses on morals, ethics, and how leaders who display strong moral character habits shape the companies they oversee. By creating teams that match their values and support their moral goals, a company’s top leaders can create a system that better engages the workforce. When describing a common feature of workforces that engage their employees, Kiel writes, “They treat their employees with respect. Employees experience the culture as one that cares for them as people—where they are not treated as “human capital.”” What he is showing is that those who we expect to work for us and provide value for us need to know that they are valuable as human beings and individuals, and they need to feel a sense of purpose and appreciation from their leaders.
When a leadership team or a supervisory team does not expand respect to all levels of the workforce, then the work that each individual does will not become a sense of pride and will suffer. The employees become disengaged causing productivity and quality to diminish. If a leadership team broadcasts strong moral values and guides supervisory teams to truly respect and value their employees as more than warm bodies, then the employees can develop meaningful relationships with their leadership and with each other. These relationships will stem from respect and encourage everyone, not just the employees but management level workers as well, to commit to their work to maximize their potential.