Fortune has published its annual “The 100 Best Companies To Work For” (Milton Moskowitz and Robert Levering, March 15, 2015, pp. 97–154). In In addition to its momentous list, Fortune included some of the latest research on human capital value. What is the real value of people? What do people genuinely add to a company’s value?
Survey data from Ocean Tomo (a consulting firm specializing in intellectual capital) identifies an interesting trend in American business. Human skill and creativity are what contribute to a company’s intangible assets such as copyrights, brands, goodwill, and patents (p. 109). In our high-tech, information-age, fast-paced, global economy, these intangible assets driven by human skill and creativity are what increasingly create value for companies.
Ocean Tomo helps us appreciate the numbers on this trend. If we look at intangible assets as a percentage of S&P 500 market value, we find a significant positive trend. In 1975, that percentage was 17. Today it is 84. Furthermore, the trend has not been a wild zigzag pattern; it is a very solid positive upward track.
These numbers underscore what we have all heard and what sometimes seems trite, yet it is so very true: Our employees are our greatest asset. The more companies recognize and respond to that truth, the better off everyone will be.