In one way, it is possible to consider human resources a liability, in the sense that it represents expenses. Just as a company must pay for electricity, office supplies, information technology, and all the other expenses of running a business, so a company also must pay wages and benefits to its employees and have a human resources department to administer such matters. On a balance sheet, therefore, human resources might appear as a liability. However, looking at human resources only as a type of liability would be a mistake.
Perhaps the greatest success stories of the twenty-first century have been companies such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google (sometimes known as the FAANGs), which have relied on intellectual innovation as a major source of revenue. When one thinks of Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, or other leading figures in technology, one realizes that the key building blocks of the most successful corporations have been the skills not only of these innovative CEOs but of their creative and technical staff, who continue to create technological innovations and new products. In fact, many of the most successful contemporary companies are "resource light," generating profits not by owning factories or mines or land, but by intellectual innovation. This means that human resources are the greatest asset of these companies.
Human resources divisions, in so far as they recruit, cultivate, retain, and ensure the effectiveness of the human resources that are innovative companies' greatest asset, actively contribute to corporate profitability, even if they show as an expense in traditional accounting. Rather than being regarded as a liability, one should consider human resources an element of a company's most productive investment.