The trillion-dollar difference

Dec 9 2016

By Korn Ferry Contributors, originally posted on the Korn Ferry Institute on December 1, 2016. 

Although organizations put technology in the spotlight in the future of work, it is, in fact, human capital that holds the greatest value for organizations now and in future, new Korn Ferry Hay Group research finds.

An economic analysis commissioned by the firm and conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research finds that human capital represents to the global economy a potential value of $1,215 trillion. It is 2.33 times that of physical capital, which includes tangible assets like technology, real estate, and inventory. Physical capital, the analysis performed for Korn Ferry indicates, should be valued at $521 trillion today. Nothing can match the greatest asset of any organization: its people, says Gary Burnison, CEO of Korn Ferry (read “People Are No Longer The CEO’s Most Important Asset” for more of Burnison’s insights).

“Leaders are placing a high emphasis on technical skills, technological prowess, and the ability to drive innovation in their new senior recruits–elements critical for modern organizations,” says Korn Ferry’s Alan Guarino, vice chairman CEO services. “However, the financial reality proven by this study–that the value of people outstrips that of machines by a considerable distance–must give CEOs pause for thought. So-called ‘soft skills,’ such as the ability to lead and manage culture, will become critical factors of success for companies in the future of work as they seek to maximize their value through their people.”

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