The lockdown-induced hybrid working model changed the labour landscape significantly. However, as restrictions were relaxed, there was little sign that previous ways of working would fully return. Our paper adds to the body of research into an organisational design that emphasises human capital and the ability to create value through intangible assets. We bringtogether three perspectives (i) what experts say are best management practices today, (ii) what employers in Lebanon currently do, and (iii) how effective employees feel these tools are.
According to the International Integrating Reporting Framework (2021), human capital represents people's competencies, capabilities, experience, motivation, and encouragement to innovate and improve processes, goods, and services, alignment with and support for an organization's governance framework, risk management, and ethical values, ability to understand, develop and implement an organization's strategy, loyalties, ability to lead, manage and collaborate.
We used a mixed research methodology, integrating qualitative and quantitative methods to draw on the strengths of each data type. At the study's core is the online survey from which we used to collect data for one country. The Likert scale, frequencies, and correlation coefficients were used to measure the strength of data relationships on a normalized scale from -1 to 1. Likert-type responses are assigned numbers representing varying degrees of agreement or disagreement for behaviours, attitudes, rules of conduct, or actions, giving rise to a particular quantitative manner to these data. Respondents to the survey were primarily from the service sector. We questioned a cross-section of employers and employees to gauge whether their understanding of using management tools was congruent. We have drawn focus to the findings that help us answer the research question – in the post-pandemic world of work, are we using appropriate management tools to generate value? Our insights look at the correlations between the variables under review, the gap in workforce planning strategies, and the methods used to close the gap. We used generic questions to help qualify the responses. Then we looked for correlations to disprove some set hypotheses. Table I shows that there were positive correlations between variables.
Our study, however, revealed that most employers use the first concept tool of key skills development and the second concept tool of annual employee assessment for hiring to generate value for the business. The results are consistent with other expert findings – while soft skills will create the most value for businesses, employers have yet to update the strategic management tools for enabling business value creation. Current tools primarily focus on tangible, technical skills.
In addition to the survey, this study incorporates information collected from two (2) supplementary sources, namely the Centre for Management Consulting Excellence's (CMCE) 7-part series and a restricted literature review (publications issued in 2017 and later). The CMCE is a collaborative professional community-based in the City of London, United Kingdom. The CMCE series ran for seven weeks, from 20th January to 3rd March 2022, covering one of seven topics for one hour each week. The literature review began with the examination of 22 books (refer to the Appendix for the full list). Each covered one of the four management tools under review. From these books, a clear theme arose. An update of management tools was underway. Several books explained that the environment, tools, or people's behavior had changed. While this proved the need for change, we focused on publications over the past five years (2017-2022) in search of similarities, contrasts, and gaps.
Our findings highlighted that, regardless of some understanding of the importance of intangible skills to create value for businesses, there needs to be a more practical application of that knowledge.
Despite employers' outdated practices, most employees have demonstrated their desire to generate organisational value, which is a significant point. However, employers wanting to guide employees can generate more value may need to understand the subject better before integrating it into their skilling strategy. While it is easier to use traditional management methods and techniques, they can fail to equip businesses to take advantage of the growth opportunities in an evolving environment.
We draw conclusions that can help accounting professionals to take the step and question traditional practices that might be restricting growth. Our investigation into the subject of value creation revealed that while system updates were already underway in some countries where businesses are behind in capturing value from intangible assets. That’s significant because intangible assets are up to nine (9) times more valuable than a business’s physical assets. Although senior management there know that employees’ skills, know-how, and commitment can directly impact the financial performance of their business, the work people perform continues to be managed in the traditional way, which is a recipe for failure.
Patrizia De Corato, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Lebanese University, and Rhonda Best, Alexander Bain & Associates Ltd.