What is the Human Capital Net Worth of Your Business?

Where would Microsoft be without Bill Gates? Google without Larry Page? Or the Cleveland Cavaliers without LeBron James?

For some organizations, net worth is directly linked to specific individuals. This value is known as the human capital of the business. Investopedia defines human capital as “A measure of the economic value of an employee’s skill set . . . the education, experience and abilities of an employee that has economic value for employers and for the economy as a whole”.

As the world evolves from the age of industry to information, human capital is becoming the benchmark of corporate success. Jobs and businesses based on intelligence are continuing to rise. The following table, which divides corporate market value on the S&P 500 between tangible (brick and mortar) to intangible (human capital) highlights this shift.

Ocean Tomo, LLC
Ocean Tomo, LLC

Along with the reality that equity is no longer solely determined by material assets; is the realization that these intangibles don’t readily conform to traditional accounting framework. It’s causing the industry to re-evaluate practices, models and assumptions, and valuations to transition from the tangible norm.

The Human Capital Management Institute has developed statements to report on human capital in formats similar to traditional financial statements. They have a taken a page out of the book Luca Pacioli wrote in 1494 about double-entry bookkeeping, to come up with the following:

Human Capital Statement

Human Capital Impact Statement

Supplementing the Income Statement, this statement measures the human capital impact on financial performance over a period of time. Some of the key items it measures include:

  • Total Cost of Workforce
  • Revenue, Profit and Market Capitalization per Full-Time Equivalent
  • Return on Human Capital Investment
  • Total Workforce Productivity Impact

Human Capital Asset Statement

Comparable to the Balance Sheet, this quantifies the total value of the workforce. It also breaks down the value contributions by job category or by key roles. The statement uses comparative periods to build information around the following concepts:

  • Workforce value creation over time
  • Identifying which job roles create the most value
  • The value of training costs as an investment
  • The value of workforce retention to a business

Human Capital Flow Statement

Comparable to the Cash Flow Statement, this statement quantifies and tracks the changes in the workforce by job class by the key steps along the talent management life cycle:

  • Hiring
  • Transfers
  • Promotions
  • Terminations

Human Capital Metrics

Assessing the actual value of human capital is determined by a defined set of metrics.

  1. Human Capital ROI – demonstrates the correlation between human capital investment, productivity and profitability. It is the pre-tax earnings a company generates for each dollar it invests in regular pay and benefits less non-human expenses.
  2. Revenue per Employee – an indication of productivity, looks at revenue generated by each employee
  3. Profit per Employee – pretax profit attributed to each full-time equivalent; gives an integrated picture of productivity and expense control efforts.
  4. Labor Cost as a Percent of Revenue – percentage of revenue allocated for compensation and benefits for regular employees; gives insight into programs and ROI over time.
  5. Voluntary Separation Rate – percentage of regular employees who left the company; high turnover can impact productivity, stability and profitability.

Human Capital Disclosures

The idea of human capital is still being digested. The Society for Human Resource Management ascertained that “A significant portion of the value of organizations remains unaccounted for in investment communications”. The SHRM has recommended that all public companies should voluntarily disclose the following information related to their human capital management:

  1. Spending on human capital
  2. Ability to retain talent
  3. Leadership depth
  4. Leadership quality
  5. Employee engagement
  6. Human Capital Discussion & Analysis

With a highly subjective value, human capital can be difficult to measure. However, the concept continues to develop and the insights being uncovered give CFOs, CEOs and top executives a fresh perspective of their employees. Who knows? There just might be a LeBron James in your midst.


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