The business world has historically been profit-driven, with sales and making money top of mind for many, if not most, leaders in organisations across the globe. After all, a high profit margin is what makes a business viable and it’s essential for increasing scale.
However, as the COVID-19 pandemic and Great Resignation have brutally highlighted, businesses can’t buy their way out of uncertainty. That’s why the future of business lies not in profit, but in people.
“When it comes to business, if you take care of your people, profit naturally follows,” KOSEC – Kodari Securities Founder and CEO Michael Kodari tells The CEO Magazine. “And the reason is simple: it’s the performance of the team that leads to the success of an organisation, big or small.”
As a top-performing investor and entrepreneur, Kodari knows a thing or two about value. So when he founded leading investment services provider KOSEC – Kodari Securities in 2010, he did so on a strong foundation of a people-first culture.
“A healthy culture is just as vital as a healthy balance sheet,” he points out. “Culture is what gives a company its competitive edge. It adds value to what’s already in place, such as intellectual property, product offering, human resources, systems and processes. And even more, it helps an organisation better navigate an uncertain business climate.”
A solid investment
Study after study confirms that when it comes to business, putting people first pays off in spades. It’s a strategy that yields powerful returns across the business in areas spanning culture, wellness and profit. And it hinges on employee happiness.
When staff are happy, they are more motivated and driven in the workplace. They’re also more innovative, energised and engaged, which together add up to mean increased productivity.
Even more, if they’re client-facing, their happiness can translate into better customer service, inspiring customer loyalty. It’s a knock-on effect that extends all the way to the organisation’s bottom line.
Today’s workers are more burnt out than ever; at first because of the COVID-19 pandemic’s tremendous toll. And now, more recently, because of many employers’ forceful push to return to the office, business as usual.
A recent international study about mental health in the workplace conducted by LHH and The Adecco Group reported that 49 per cent of leaders and 42 per cent of non-managers said they have felt, or are feeling, anxiety about returning to the office.
Burnout in the workplace is linked to plummeting productivity, lower levels of engagement and a lack of motivation. It also seriously impacts retention, with data showing that pandemic-battered employees are leaving their jobs at some of the highest rates ever – all things that impact a company’s bottom line.
Beyond the bottom line
So what’s a company to do? According to Kodari, it’s time they shift their focus. “You should be in business to create value and make a difference in people’s lives,” he says.
“If your entire focus is on making money, then you shouldn’t be in business in the first place. That intention comes through to your employees and clients, and it will likely rub them the wrong way.”
This is especially true for millennials who are forecasted to make up 75 per cent of the workforce by 2025. The ‘2016 Cone Communications Millennial Employee Engagement Study’ found that 64 per cent of millennials will turn down a job if the employer doesn’t have a strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy. And 83 per cent said they would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues.
When it comes to gen Z, the data is even more compelling. A study by WeSpire found that this generation is the first to prioritise purpose over salary.
The full picture
In a time when the Great Resignation is spreading across the globe like wildfire, these statistics paint a compelling picture: if you want to retain and attract talent, it’s vital to show them how their work contributes to more than just the business’s bottom line.
“People want to work in an organisation that truly gives; not just back to society but also to the people within its four walls,” Kodari says. “They want to work for a company that values them, embraces their ideas and creativity, while also providing them with a platform to reach their true potential and challenge them.
“It’s up to leaders to create an atmosphere where people don’t have to go to work, they want to go to work.”
Forbes’ World’s Best Employers annual list for 2021 is ripe with companies that stood out for putting their employees and their health and wellbeing front and centre during this trying time. Target, for instance, climbed 117 spots to number 25 on the list for offering employees more flexibility and better compensation packages.
Amazon nabbed the number four spot for investing in employee education benefits to the tune of US$1.2 billion by 2025. And South Korea’s Samsung landed at number one for the second year in a row, thanks to prioritising its employees’ safety and health during the ongoing pandemic, engaging in global activities for CSR, and actively investing in the future of its business with innovative product launches and new technology investments.
So, when it comes to putting people first, the bottom line is: it pays off in dividends.
With the uptick of remote- and hybrid-work arrangements, teamwork is more important than ever before. From innovation to increased job satisfaction and stress reduction, companies flourish with collaboration.
Teamwork benefits beyond the bottom line:
- Better problem solving capabilities: Studies confirm that more brains are better than one when it comes to solving complicated issues. The combined brain power that groups apply to a problem is far greater than that applied by an individual. And when said team is diverse, problems are solved faster.
- Increased innovation: When people with different backgrounds and perspectives come together and brainstorm, innovative potential grows. Companies with high levels of diversity have a 19 per cent advantage over counterparts with lower levels of diversity, translating into better financial performance, overall.
- Higher emotional wellbeing: Teams thrive when honest feedback, respect and openness are encouraged in the workplace – the very things that translate to employee happiness.
- Fosters personal growth: Feedback from a trusted team can expose areas where personal growth is needed. Recognising strengths and addressing weaknesses can not only make one a better team member, but a better person overall.
- Protects against burnout: One study found that 23 per cent of employees feel burnt out at work very often or always. But by sharing the load in a company that makes wellbeing a priority, burnout can be avoided.