The P.A.

A weekly address from Patrick Adams,
President of St. Louis Community Credit Union

People Over Profits

On October 11th, 2017, posted in: Industry, Uncategorized by

diverse employees holding hands in centerPeople as a commodity in the work place?  Commodity is a product that can be thought of as fungible.  Gas is a commodity, so is coffee, milk, fruit—you get the idea.  I didn’t have to turn to my Webster’s II New Riverside Desk Dictionary copyright 1988, minus the cover and containing a few rips, bumps and bruises to know that.  Fungible is defined as something that is easily interchangeable.  I didn’t have to look up that fancy word either.  Put it all together and you get that “people are interchangeable” in the workplace.  Not always.

Bad profits come when there is a belief that “people are interchangeable.”  Sadly, “burn ‘em up” is too prevalent in the workplace.  “Burn ‘em up” and replace ‘em” is the mantra held by way too many companies.  Profits are strong, but bad when people are the cost to the business’ success.

How about a different approach?  The most important capital in a business is human. When the little guy can use his or her unique talents to provide a business with the opportunity to offer better products or services to consumers, the profits flow freely.  Taking those same profits in order to improve wages and the standard of living of those very same employees that provided the revenue stream through their respective talent(s) has to be considered good—very good?

Comparatively speaking to times past, we’re in a very good economy these days.  There are considerable job openings for talented people.  If you will, supply and demand is in favor of the employee.  That means talent that is disrespected can very well take their abilities and skills to a competitor and have the opportunity to share in good profits.  Remember the country song, “Take This Job and Shove It”?  Well, it’s real right now.

In this improved economy, companies that manipulate their staffs for the benefit of profits without giving the employees a fair shake are headed for trouble.  Ordinary people who work extraordinarily hard to provide their talents in order to make “the man” some profits, need to be looped in.

Employees should not be considered as a commodity, nor should they be viewed as fungible.  High-performing staff members should be able to provide dignity and hope for their families. Cutting them into the success of the overall company is to insure even greater successes.

What drives this desire to “burn ‘em out and use ‘em up?”  I’m going to say it’s the reporting required in the short-term.  When profits have to be met to satisfy the quarterly earnings calls required of Wall Street analysts, pressure exists to optimize profits.  Same for credit unions in the not-for-profit world.  We have to tell our regulator/insurer on a quarterly basis exactly how we performed.  When profit is in such demand, sadly people fall to the wayside.

Jack Taylor, founder of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, said it best.  I’m paraphrasing, but it went something like this “take care of the people and profits will come.”  Yes, people always comes before profit.  Check the dictionary—people always comes first. Not just customers…employees too.

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