“Humans before hardware” is an expression that is often used by the elite Navy SEALs. As an employee retention speaker and employee retention expert, I love it! However, all too often, we see organizations spend $25,000 on a new piece of equipment and not even think twice about it. Or, they drop thousands of dollars on a new piece of software. In many cases, there is a payback but in others they chalk it up to a cost of doing business.

To that I say, why not think about treating people well as a cost of doing business? In most cases, I have found as an employee retention expert that treating people well is far easier than they think. It may be saying “good morning,” “nice job,” “hello,” or “have a great weekend.” Yet, we often fail to say these small things that improve how employees feel about where they work. We wouldn’t mistreat a piece of equipment by not maintaining it, would we?
Another example where I see “hardware over humans” is when we have a supervisor who can really produce parts yet has a revolving door of people. Instead of factoring in employee retention into the supervisor’s results, we ignore it. If we factored in employee retention into each department, many department’s results wouldn’t look that good. Some would look downright horrible.

I see also see organizations balk at using psychometric tests to assess personality to ensure the best fit for the organization because it costs a bit more money. Then, in the next moment, they would never dream of purchasing a new piece of equipment that doesn’t fit the needs of the business. The list of items where special attention is paid to equipment and other “hard assets” is endless. Yet, we wonder why our employee engagement and employee retention is as poor as it is.

It’s time as part of our employee retention strategies that organizations change their outlook if they are serious about employee retention. After all, leaders look to and study elite organizations like the Navy SEALs about how to lead their organizations. Isn’t it about time we adopt their philosophy “humans over hardware?”