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HR Decisions: When You Cut Wood, You Get Sawdust

A person is using a chainsaw to cut through a large piece of wood, creating a cloud of sawdust. The individual is wearing orange pants and a grey shirt, and they are outdoors in a rustic setting. The chainsaw is mounted on a metal frame to guide the cut, and the scene captures the dynamic action of cutting wood.
Photo by Collab Media on Unsplash

I recently came across the phrase, "When you cut wood, you get sawdust" and was facinated by it, which got me to thinking how it applies to HR, Business, and Operations. Below are some of my thoughts that came to mind when thinking about this phrase.

Why It Matters:

  • Every decision impacts your team.

  • Understand the ripple effects.

  • Better decisions mean better outcomes.

1. Hiring Decisions Create Culture

Data shows that hiring decisions shape company culture. A Gallup survey found that 70% of variance in employee engagement is due to managers. Your hires influence this directly.


  • Hire for cultural fit, not just skills.

  • Use structured interviews to minimize bias.

  • Regularly assess cultural alignment.

2. Training Investments Pay Off

Investing in employee training boosts productivity. In fact, I recently came across something from The Association for Talent Development (ATD) that shared companies that offer comprehensive training have over a 200% higher income per employee.


  • Identify key skills gaps.

  • Offer continuous learning opportunities.

  • hr-decisions-when-you-cut-wood-you-get-sawdust Measure training ROI to ensure effectiveness.

3. Employee Engagement Drives Retention

Engaged employees stay longer. You can't go to an HR conference without hearing that increased engagement improves retention.


  • Conduct regular engagement surveys.

  • Implement feedback loops.

  • Recognize and reward contributions.

4. Recognition Enhances Performance

Recognizing employees for their hard work boosts morale and productivity. My experience in HR has shown that 279% of employees who quit their jobs cited a lack of appreciation as a key reason. Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration, but you catch my drift.


  • Celebrate achievements publicly.

  • Implement a recognition program.

  • Ensure recognition is meaningful and personalized.

5. Diversity Fuels Innovation

Diverse teams outperform. McKinsey’s research shows companies with diverse executive teams are 27% more likely to outperform peers on profitability.


  • Build diverse talent pipelines.

  • Foster an inclusive workplace.

  • Track diversity metrics and progress.

Wrapping Up:

Every HR decision, like every cut in carpentry, creates byproducts. Understanding and managing these “sawdust” effects leads to a healthier, more productive workplace. Be mindful of the impacts, and make strategic choices for long-term success.


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