When you’re looking to make money in the stock market, you know that it’s going to take some investment to get your return.  And, the way it works, if you double your investment, you’re going to double the return.

When it comes to your employees, though, the whole view of investment seems to be swept away.  They’re an expense, quite likely the largest single item in your business.

When something’s an expense, the way you manage it is to decide how much value you need, then spend the minimum amount of money to get there.  You need to buy a new truck, so you scope out the alternatives, figure out what features your really need, then go with the least expensive alternative.

But employees aren’t trucks, or machines, or office supplies.  What you get out of employees depends a GREAT deal on what you put into them.

I’m not suggesting that you go out there and double your workers’ pay tomorrow, in the same way that you shouldn’t just go out and double the amount you bet on the stock market.  Quite likely, it’s just not affordable, and it raises risks.

And people don’t work that way anyway.  They need a balance of things to get motivated – purpose, work environment, teamwork … and sure, pay and benefits.  Those are more visible only because they’re easily measured, but not because they make the biggest difference.

Invest in your employees as if you’re trying to build a nice, balanced portfolio.  Different people need different things, but the investment you make will pay off in productivity.  And productivity means reduced expenses over all.

Which is what you were after to begin with.

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