Part 2: Ignite your Culture – How to Create a People Centered Business

A happy workforce is good for business. That translates to an environment where employees are inspired – where people WANT to make a difference. In this people-centered paradigm, strategists are looking beyond questions like “how can we be profitable?” Instead, they’re asking questions like “how can we be a great place to work?”

Companies that embrace the great-place-to-work model are at a competitive advantage in the war for talent. The best candidates are seeking those companies out. That’s making it more imperative for other aggressive companies to adopt that model as a key business goal.

What steps can a company take to be a great place to work? It starts with understanding key components of workplace satisfaction.

Employee engagement – companies with top-to-bottom engagement are more productive and perform better financially.  Engagement means staff are passionate and positive about what they do, and feel aligned with the company mission and goals.

Transparency – this came up as the #1 factor in a 2013 survey by Tinypulse. Open communication is key. The more employees feel connected with management, coworkers and work teams, the happier and more engaged they are.

Appreciation – being recognized for their work came out #1 in a huge Boston Consulting Group survey of over 200,000 people from around the world.

Other factors like compensation and company stability ranked high also, but focusing on the 3 above guides us to a key understanding: that a culture with open, positive communication can lead directly to a better workplace.

Better Understanding, Better Tools, Creating Positive Habits

The people-focused approach is rich in engagement, transparency, communication and appreciation. The more a business can systematize these values, making them part of daily interactions and processes, the more they become integrated into company culture. It’s one thing to have a mission statement on the masthead – it’s another thing to live it every day.

How can a company make its core values a daily habit for employees? The process of discovery leads, fundamentally, to conversation. People are social creatures by nature: we need to talk to each other. Open dialogue between people plays a part, and so does transparent information exchange as a business process. Turning values into habits means communicating in regular, ongoing ways, not just during staff meeting and performance reviews.

In business, that includes the tools we use and how we use them. Interactive systems like project management software, teleconferencing, email, calendaring, shared drives and other resources can all be used to open up regular communication. New business software platforms are also emerging, focused on getting to the unity and clarity of purpose that keep employees engaged.

People thrive in a business environment where they understand the value of their contribution. Difference makers can be inspired simply by knowing that they DO make a difference – it creates a feedback loop of confidence. They know where they fit into the big picture. A company with transparent, appreciative culture – plus the tools and practices to keep their goals front-and-center every day – is well on its way to fostering a great working environment. That inspires everyone to step up and say “I can do that,” here’s how it fits, and here’s how it’s going to make a difference to the bottom line.


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Part 1: Can you afford “not” to have a people centered approach to Business?

Are we looking at business backward? Success is driven and measured in financial terms, but people are the heart of business. People matter most, and paradigms are changing to reflect that. New business traditions are emerging that value human factors side-by-side with financial ones. Employee satisfaction is as important as profitability.

How can success be viewed in terms of human capital rather than financial capital? Harvard Business Review poses some intriguing questions, and offers illuminating insight, in a new article on talent management.

The Cost of Money, the Cost of People

The real cost of money is near zero in today’s business climate, according to HBR. Interest rates and inflation are in balance. Capital is plentiful and cheap, comparatively speaking.

Talent, by contrast, has a very different cost basis. This is not meant in financial terms like salary or recruiting costs, but in terms of human value. It can be understood by looking at what a person is worth to your organization, what the impact might be if you lost half of your best people, and what the impact might be if you could swap out some of your sluggish performers and replace them with star talent.

“The business press refers to a ‘war’ for talent,” HBR says. Human capital is precious. Cultivating, attracting and retaining good people means more than quantifying the value of employees; it means building relationships and putting people first.

Key Questions

For business leadership, the questions are changing. Placing greater value on human capital is directly related to business growth, customer satisfaction and financial performance. Here are some questions that are popping up:

Are our employees inspired?
Who are our difference makers?
What sets them apart in our organization?
How can we empower others to become difference makers, and to be inspired?

Inspired employees and difference makers comprise only a small part of the average company – 12 to 15%. Other companies, however – those that make employee satisfaction a priority – have a lot more of those inspired difference makers that move business forward.