• Annie Frisoli

Work Lessons From My Grandma: Building Human Capital

I know I almost always start all my emails off with “I hope this email finds you well.” - I learned this opener from my Busia - Busia means Grandma in Polish. Back in ancient times, when there was this process where we mailed letters vs. email, she and I used to write each other letters and she started every note with this line and I always found that this line connected me immediately to her and the letter. It was this short phrase that represented care, love, and connection that drew me to her and to what was next in her letter.


I open with this short story to note the impacts of our actions and our communication and how the little things can bring about connection between humans and ultimately how we can build human capital at our organizations.


Human capital often refers to the skills and know-how of a workforce, but it can also refer to your team’s emotional and psychological wellbeing. According to Forbes, businesses are having difficulties with employee retention because people are reassessing their values. Thus, it has become more important than ever to make thoughtful investments that show your value to your employees.


Here are a few suggestions/reminders for your reading pleasure:


Offer benefits that attract and retain people

I know this is one some of us have the least control over, but trying to stay as competitive as possible with employees or obtaining new employees is to review your salaries, wages, and benefits. Following the pandemic, many people have rethought how they spend their time. Many have also faced medical costs. Health benefits and paid time off are great ways to attract and retain employees.


Communicate and offer openness

Another way to invest in your employees is with a gesture that only costs time—openness as a leader. By this, I mean making yourself available to employees and fostering a space where they feel comfortable expressing themselves.


Opening yourself to your employees builds mutual trust, understanding, and relationships that foster positive work environments. By offering teams a relationship with you, you tap into their emotional security, create a sense of belonging, and build community.


If you struggle with starting conversations around work or are just needing some fresh conversation starters that are work related, then check out these Team Talk cards. I created a 52-deck of cards that includes question prompts such as, “What is something that could help propel this team and/or organization forward?” This is a fun way for individuals and/or teams to connect to one another around the topic of work!


Celebrate successes

Celebrating successes is a tangible way to show employees that you see their hard work. This is a low-stakes way to boost morale and further cultivate a work community. Reward productivity or success with a catered meal, and take the time to sit with your employees and facilitate conversations about their success. For those of you that have remote teams, I just found the the organization Thnks - Growing Business With Gratitude is their slogan - that send small to large gifts virtually.


You can get creative with how you celebrate successes and even offer input from your team. Anything you offer is a productive investment!


Workshops and team building

And of course, I’m a bit bias with this last suggestion, funding professionalization workshops sharpens employee skills and directly shows your investment in their future. I offer many workshops that you can check out, including Building Your Team Towards Their Collective Purpose OR Building Culture Through Communication. These workshops provide participants an opportunity to identify and understand leadership, foster conversation, and develop a cohesive group that works together to achieve goals. And don’t just take it from me, here is a testimonial from Community Services Director, Casey VanHaren:


“So many people have approached me this morning to let me know what an amazing experience our retreat was. I have been to so many staff retreat days and have been disappointed that the group didn’t buy in. Your approach of setting trust first and building upon this foundation was key. Thank you again. This is the outcome that I hoped for.”


No matter your investments, taking the time to give back to your team promises to boost individual morale, improve productivity, create group bonds, and retain employees. Thus, putting the human back in capital promises a great return on your investment!

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