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people, employees, culture

Build a Better Business - Workers

By Mark Odegard

People. It is the third word in the US constitution, the first word used to define the triple-bottom-line concept – People, Planet, Profit – and it is a word that describes all of us. People are what make business run: workers or employees (e.g., people) create products and services that are valued and purchased by consumers (e.g., people). The economy exists for and because of people.

Providing consistently high-quality products and services is extremely important given how quickly and easily consumers can find alternative options to meet their needs. Disengaged or unsatisfied employees can have outsized impacts to how your business is perceived and quickly erode brand value. For this reason, as we all know, how you treat your employees' matters.

More importantly, employees are people. They are the people who make up the communities we live in. They are people who contribute directly to the quality of life we enjoy. They are people who spend money buying products and services – they are consumers.

Therefore, how businesses treat employees directly impacts everything we do in society. Employees who have quality healthcare should have fewer concerns about managing their family’s health. Employees with flexible work hours and paid vacations are better able to take care of their families and engage with their communities. Employees who have extra disposable income are able to contribute to the economy by buying more products and services. If a rising tide floats all boats, then taking care of employees will be a boost to their communities and local economies.

Many companies understand this connection and those that understand it best ensure that employees are well-taken care of by integrating this mindset into company policy. B Corps fully understand the importance of employees and consider some of the following in their practices:

  • share ownership of their company with employees
  • pay a living wage to all employees and independent contractors
  • provide health care for part-time and full-time employees
  • give employees flexible working options
  • conduct regular, anonymous employee satisfaction and engagement surveys and take action on the results

Companies who do not focus on employees will ultimately suffer. Employees are increasingly considering a company’s culture and mission when making job decisions. According to Glassdoor’s Mission & Culture Survey 2019, over half of respondents (in the US, UK, France, and Germany) prioritize company culture over salary. More than 77% of adults consider company culture before applying for a job and sustainability is a large part of that cultural consideration, particularly for millennials who will comprise over half of the US workforce by 2020.

Culture is directly impacted by how well you treat your staff. Defining and communicating policies so that employee expectations are clear is an important aspect – building this into your governance practices is a great way to accomplish is. Equally important is creating a mindset across your company that prioritizes employees without compromise. Treating people with dignity and respect is behavioral more than it is procedural.

Consider your own practices: Where do employees fit into your business model? How do your employees feel about their benefits and their overall satisfaction?

Next week we will focus on Community – the places that support your business and where your employees live.

Overwhelmed? No worries, we’ve got this! For the Good.

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