Common Questions

With our President, Mike Cox

What is human capital?

Companies maintain wealth and assets in physical forms such as buildings and equipment, intellectual forms such as patents and in human form through access to the knowledge and capabilities of the people they hire. The ability of a company to utilize its human employees and contractors to generate income is its human capital. The discipline of human capital consulting services the needs of companies to attract (hire), manage and motivate (compensation) the people in a way that optimizes their contributions to the company agenda and increases the value of them as human capital.

What is the difference between human capital and human resources?

Human capital is a component within the broader human resources topic. Human capital typically refers to the attraction, management, and motivation of employees, topics particularly related to the growth of companies and capturing of market opportunities. Human resources more broadly includes people related topics related to the management of downside risk such as compliance and labor relations as well as administrative necessities such as payroll and onboarding.

Cox Innovations chooses to focus on human capital topics because of the potential for companies to create and exploit competitive advantage through excellence on these topics. While important for the sustained health of a business, even top tier risk management and administration human resource topics rarely generate significant competitive differentiation.

Why did you start Cox Innovations?

Though excellence in utilizing human capital is frequently a driver of significant competitive advantage for companies, the risk management element of many other human resource topics has created corporate inertia for progress on any human resource topics. While gambling with compliance is hardly ever a sensible decision, not evolving and innovating with human capital topics can be just a damaging to the potential success of the company.

Cox Innovations exists to bring energy, excitement and innovation to human capital topics that many companies have overlooked and underexploited. We help businesses small and large recognize that how they attract, retain and motivate their people is not only more flexible than they think, but has a very direct and material impact on business performance. We love demonstrating that excellence in employee engagement not only creates business advantage, but also makes the “tired” discipline of human capital fun.

Why are you doing this now?

Between the growing use of artificial intelligence technology and the growth in relevance of the gig economy and liquid workforce, the traditional large corporation operating model is under pressure to evolve, especially as it relates to human capital. With the range of potential employee experiences having broadened dramatically companies who strategically embrace these changes and creatively evolve will emerge stronger, yet many companies remain paralyzed in a “wait and see” mentality.

Many companies find themselves poorly positioned to upack, identify and capture the opportunities created by the changing market. Corporate efforts to streamline costs have left many human resource organizations with barely enough bandwidth to execute their human capital processes leaving no space to pursue innovative ideas and evolve. Cox Innovations helps companies respond to the their opportunities with powerful insight and innovations in human capital.

What's the number one thing companies should know about human capital strategies?

While people dread thinking about human capital, I think it’s a signal that something could be better. Humans are social beings. If thinking about interacting with other people in the organization is causing stress and not creating energy, then something is probably broken or needs improvement. While some human resource disciplines are more administrative and not exciting, the idea of hiring people, developing them, and supporting them financially should be a source of excitement for business leaders. When companies are addressing their human capital well, these topics are sources of enjoyment for leaders (and they should be!).

The application of artificial intelligence gets plenty of press, but the real competitive advantage for companies remains inalienably tied to a company’s ability to effectively draw out the best of its people. This is as true for a 5-person business as a 50,000-person business. If a company doesn’t believe that its people are a key driver of success, we would love to help them figure out why not and how to turn that around.

What kinds of services does Cox Innovations offer?

Cox Innovations provides management consulting services helping organizations to maximize the impact of their human capital. We partner with clients to identify and access the right people to address business needs, compensating them in a compelling and cost-effective way, and connect performance management with broader human capital strategy to maximize business impact.

We work with businesses ranging from startups and small businesses who need to tackle “big company” human capital challenges without hiring expensive top tier HR talent in house. We also work with established businesses who have top tier HR talent in place but need an extra push for new ideas, expert help on special projects, or want to apply our innovations such as Self Directed Rewards™ to their businesses.

When you're not helping companies with HR strategies, what are you doing?

The intellectual freedom to pursue innovations in human capital topics has also permitted me to pursue a pet project and document an approach to career ownership that I have developed through many years of informal coaching of candidates. The process was originally developed as a technique to improve employee retention. I plan on releasing a book in early 2019 that will describe a compelling approach for managing your career and effectively identifying, pursuing, and securing jobs in the context for the career that you own.

Outside of the office, I enjoy time with my family, passionately collect and consume wine, snowboard, cycle (when the Texas heat isn’t too bad!), and experiment in the kitchen.

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