Businesses must invest in human capital to boost economic value – Prof. Samuel Lartey

Businesses must make an effort to invest in their employees in order to ensure that they thrive in a very sustainable manner, Prof. Samuel Lartey has said.

Addressing a gathering of professionals, farmers and the youth in agriculture and Agripreneurship at Konongo in the Ashanti Region, Prof. Lartey said alongside the battle for the customer, the most important battleground for competing global companies is now for human capital and talent.

He noted that investing in your human capital requires training and development needs to be regularly reviewed against business objectives, and also that a process exists for regularly reviewing the training and development needs of all employees.

Organisations, he said, should identify the responsibility for developing people and ensure that the resources required to meet the training and development needs are identified in the planning process and made available.

He said: “This decade will see the First World War for the globe’s top 1 percent talent. This war will require a fundamental rethink of ways of attracting, retaining and developing our human capital”.

Last week, the World Bank Capital Index reported that about 56 percent of Ghana’s human capital will go to waste in the next 18 years because of the poor quality of the country’ education system – meaning that only 44 percent of the human resource of the country will become productive and valuable.

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Prof. Lartey stressed that a good education is one of the most important things an individual can pursue to prepare for life.

“There are many aspects of life that a complete education will affect for a person. Unfortunately, far too many people believe that having a higher education means having a well-paying job, better opportunities, and a better material life,” he said.

These assertions, he said, must be consigned to history. “Today, there are huge and growing numbers of extremely talented young people in our world, but the traditional deployment of the hierarchy of business does not always see or allow the most talented people to be at the top of the organisation,” he stated.

According to him, given the electrifying pace of business today, it’s no longer feasible for the CEO to be on top of everything that is going on in the business – as they are not always the best initiators of new ideas or solvers of today’s problems.

“Therefore, progressive organisations will always look to harness the talented people. They also look to hire employees who can bring something new to the table, and who, vitally, believe in the company’s values. And, to ensure that these gifted people are kept happy, they must be recognised and treated well, no matter where these special people lie in the hierarchy,” he argued.

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Prof. Lartey said that there is nothing more tragic than when very talented people are just not a good fit for an organisation; but more often, the real problem lies in an organisation’s inability to harness or align their employees’ talent to the mission.

He urged the gathering to build a culture of coaching – ensure everyone with people-responsibility is trained on how to coach people.

“Provide training, mentoring, and guidance for your direct reports, and ensure they do the same for their people. Be crystal-clear on your expectations – these are best reminded by personalised stories that inspire.

“Don’t become fixated and locked into only short-term requirements. You can have talent alone and fall short of your potential. Or you can have talent plus energy and ambition, and really stand out. While experience is still important, the ability to ‘learn, unlearn and relearn’ is probably even more vital,” he added.

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