Workplace Culture

Practicing the Mindset of People Before Profit

August 11, 2021

Putting people before profits can pay dividends. Read on for a little perspective.

Photo of a woman laughing in front of a yellow laptop, with a man laughing in the background.

For the Love of Money… Or People?

If you are a small business owner reading this, you probably went into business to make money.  Ok, let’s back up.  You probably went into business because you realized a product or service you could provide–to help people–might be profitable.  For many people, the original purpose of starting a company was the recognition that there was a gap, and they were able to fill it.  You started with people in mind, and then the money came along.  So, people before profit.

Over time, you’ve likely come to realize you often find yourself at a crossroads trying to choose between what may be best for your employees and what could be most profitable for your company.  It’s a hard place to be, as any business owner will tell you.  Therefore, here are some ways to look at this inevitable and recurring dilemma so that with practice the right answer—putting people before profit—feels more natural.

What Is the Short-Term Mindset?

Photo of a traffic caution sign with the words EXPECT DELAYS.

Putting profits before people is not uncommon at all.  However, that’s a short-term mindset, and it has a desperate vibe to it. While it may not be true for all publicly traded companies, that arena is where you will often see profits taking precedent over people.   This is because their mind is not their own.  They have worries about meeting monthly and quarterly numbers, or their stock will take a nosedive, and people in charge will lose their jobs.  

Putting people before profit will likely delay profits.  However, keeping people in focus will profit the company and the people in the company much greater if this is the mindset from the beginning. 

What About Companies with Fast Growth?

Image of a smiling employee looking at another employee who is sitting in front of her laptop.

If you are fortunate enough to be a company experiencing fast growth, know that it will be that much harder for you.  It’s easy to lose sight of a people-before-profit mindset. As we are learning, a fast-growing company can be sucked into things fast. Everything is fast, fast, faster!  Investment offers, promises from outsiders so they can tweak things as you built, or similar things.  It’s all coming at you.

Related:  The Impending Millennial Talent Migration

How Is Local Ownership Different?

While it is possible to experience fast growth, business owners with a local, people-first mindset see things differently.  The focus isn’t a turn-and-burn attitude.  Instead, smart business owners protect themselves from temptation by keeping things down to earth and real.  Sure, the big picture is important, but each individual is relevant and important in the grand scheme of things.  Smart business owners want their employees to be on a path to success—whatever success looks like for them.  They recognize that company growth starts with individual growth.  

What Does Focusing on People Mean?

Photo of a room with five people sitting on chairs and a couch
 facing each other.

So, what does it mean to focus on people, anyway?  Is it really a company’s job to cater to employees?

Well, try to see things through your own personal lens of life experience.  How have you performed in the past when you felt unsettled, whether it was at home, work, or with your physical or mental health?  Did you really want to be at work?  Do you think your employer got the employee you presented on your resume?  Did your employer get the best you had to give?  I’m willing to bet the answer is no.

Instead, what if you knew your employer would be willing to help accommodate you in your times of need?  Would you be grateful?  Would you feel the load lifted off your shoulders?  Would you sleep a little better?  Would you feel like working harder?  Would you do nearly anything you could to keep your job?  I’m willing to bet the answer is yes.

Likewise, business owners who put people before profits sleep better, as well.  They also work harder—for their employees.  They go to great lengths to keep their dedicated employees.  They know what’s important in life, and they recognize that money—while important—is not what makes us whole.  Stress on the mind, body, and spirit, and the demands of life outside of work all come into play in determining how employees will perform.  Realizing that will give you greater insight into your employees, and thus your business.

Related:  Avoiding a Black Eye: Understanding and Preventing Workplace Bullying

Practicing Is Just That—Practice

If you put profit before people, you will lose.  It’s as simple as that.  Do you enjoy the feeling of working with disgruntled employees?  Do you like seeing people suffering from ailments and not taking the time to care for themselves?  Do you revel in discord and dysfunction in the workplace?  Do you aim for high turnover rates?  If you answered no to these questions, then you probably know how to avoid them.  Put people before profits.  People stick with companies who want them to be successful from the inside out.  When it’s all said and done, companies profit from healthy-minded people who feel valued within their organization. 

Photo of three employees working with their computers in front of them, and appearing to laugh hard.

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