Human Asset Analysis

In recent years there have been attempts to place a value on the “human assets” of a business with a view to determine an amount to be included on the balance sheet. Do you think people should be treated as assets? Would “human assets” meet the conventional definition of an asset for inclusion on the balance sheet? Explain your responses and provide examples for support. An asset is deemed as “essentially a business resources that has certain characteristics. ” (Atrill et al pg. 0) The main Characteristics are identified as: 1. An expected future economic benefit. 2. The business has an exclusive right to the control the benefit. 3. The benefit must arise from some past transaction or event. 4. The asset must be capable of reliable measurement in monetary terms. To establish if human assets can be treated as an asset for inclusion on the balance sheet it would need to fit within these characteristics. Of these items I believe the second to exclude a human resource from the business balance sheet.

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The business has an exclusive right to control the benefit. This characteristic is perhaps the only one that could be argued as an outright ‘no”. There are possible options to try and control the asset i. e. terms and conditions of employment which can control a human resource from utilising their resources, experience, skills for competition to ensure that only you have access to the resource but arguably you still do not have control.

Perhaps if a contract specifies that the resource/human asset generates a certain income or is subject to penalties for which they are liable. However it could be argued that the asset becomes more of a revenue stream with another “business” in this case and not a human asset of which you have “control”. To look at the argument on a more philosophical approach would be to ascertain if anyone or any entity has the right to “control” a human being.

I believe that history proves that whenever a government or business starts to believe or tries to enforce control over the human component of their activates it is in a humans nature to resist and overcome their perceived oppression. Examples of these could be argued to be the Fall of Communism, American Independence and recent examples may perhaps include Syria, Libya and Egypt. Hence a business would never have an exclusive right to control the benefit of human resource. Bibliography Atrill, P (et al) (2008), Accounting: an introduction, 4th Edition, French Forest: Pearson Education Australia