As readers of this blog will know, I have occasionally posted stories about companies who don’t seem to understand the meaning behind the phrase “our employees are our most valuable asset.” The most recent of these was a month ago when I nominate IBM for the Circuit City award for how to destroy your human capital. The award commemorates how Circuit City fired its most experienced workers as a cost cutting measure — only to see the company go into a death spiral as their human capital ebbed away (see earlier posting). IBM won the award for mandating additional training for some workers (a good thing) but cutting their pay while they were in training (a very bad thing).
But there is good news as well. Today I am inaugurating the anti-Circuit City award. [I know, not a great name, but it will serve until I come up with something better.] And today’s awardee is Gap. They seem to understand the role of human capital. According to a recent story in the Washington Post (“At Gap, selling a place to work, not just khakis“), Gap has been increases their wages and focusing on gender parity. Two reasons. One is to raise the company’s appeal to customers. Second, to retain a higher skilled workforce.
Technology is increasingly making the job of a front-line retail worker more complex than folding T-shirts or using a cash register. For instance, the prevalence of “reserve-in-store” programs means there’s a focus on finding workers who can convince shoppers to buy more than just what they reserved online.”What we’re asking our sales associates to do today versus what we asked for in the past is much more,” [Gap HR Executive Dan] Henkle says.
Gap gets it.