People are not assets
What is an asset? By definition, it is “a single item of ownership having exchange value.” Exchange value, as in buy and sell. Sounds a bit like slavery to me, which is still this country’s most shameful part of its history.
Why are assets on the balance sheet? So that you can value you the business particularly if you need to liquidate it. Banks provide asset-based lending and the assets are the collateral. Can your people be used as collateral? I hope not.
Jon Miller surfaced this overused business phrase “people are our greatest asset in Are Your People Your Greatest Asset? in August and I’ve been meaning since to add my thoughts. I think the answer is no, they are not, because they are not assets. And do you think people feel better being called an asset? I doubt they feel like they are being treated by respect.
I would prefer “partner”. Why? Because partnerships require that both parties get something out of the relationship. If you understand that your employees must get something out of the relationship (besides a paycheck), then you’ll do most of the right things that demonstrate respect for people.
Don’t treat your employees like assets. Treat them as partners.