Can you imagine this world without people? If you take away people, there's no life. Life only happens because of and through people. People create life and we are not meant to live this life alone. We are meant to live in communities full of happiness, connection, and support. In the movie "Passenger," Jim awakens Aurora after his pod malfunctions because he can't bear the thought of living the rest of his life in isolation. We all need to feel inner connection with other human beings. People are the reason that life exists. They should always come first.

When you look at any organization, whether it's cultural, religious, political, etc., at the finest granular level it all comes down to people. At my company, we follow the motto, "people first." Every decision, every structure, and every idea is created with people as the very top priority. When we say people first, we mean life should be lived on the basis that without people, life, and similarly companies, cannot exist.

A people-first company's priorities will look like this:

  1. People
  2. Project
  3. Process
  4. Profit

A people-first company's leaders think, plan, and execute every activity by thinking of people before the project, process, or profit. With this clarity, leaders have no problem sacrificing projects, processes, or profit in the interest of people. They are committed to their team being happy, joyful, peaceful, and loving, and will do what it takes to make that happen.

Here is how to instill a people-first motto in everything you do at your company.

Compensation

When the company profits, look at what part of that compensation can be shared with employees. Generate wealth to distribute wealth instead of hoarding the wealth for personal benefit.

Celebrations

Find time to celebrate all small and large successes, whether weekly, monthly, or quarterly. This ensures people know you care about them and acknowledge them.

Language

Use a language of love rather than a task-oriented language. Ensure that employees are valued as human beings and not treated as cogs in a machine. Ensure that every day you are staying in touch with employees and making sure they are happy and taken care of. Make sure that every employee is set up for success.

Take a look at the chart below to see the language differences used in people-first, versus profit-first organizations.

People-first organization

Profit-first organization

How are you doing?

How is your project doing?

How are you feeling about the project?

Is your project going to be done in time?

Do you need anything from me?

What sales have you made lately?

Let's get together to learn, grow, and contribute.

Let's get together to crank things up and finish the work.

Is this a reasonable scope and timeline for our people to take on?

How much money are we going to make on this project?

Hiring

When interviewing, pay more attention to whether a person would fit into the team rather than whether their skills would fit. Hire them for who they are as a human being and teach them the skills needed for the project.

Brand promise

Partners and clients are people too, so put them before the money you make from them. This gives partners and clients reassurance that they are people first and will only pay for work that creates value. Look at how you can have a win/win with them before taking any project on.

Work-life balance

Give employees the flexibility and freedom to do what they need to in other areas of their lives. This means allowing employees to leave work early to run an errand or work from home for a week to care for a sick child. Ensure that employees are able and encouraged to take care of themselves, their families, and their loved ones.

Ripple effect

Encourage your employees to put people first in every aspect of their lives. This creates a ripple effect of putting others first, and it's one way your leadership contribution is felt outside of your immediate circle of influence.

When you look closely at life, whether you are a child or adult, stay-at-home parent or entrepreneur, just starting in the workforce or a seasoned professional, consider what you are living your life for. Is it for projects and processes, or is it about the people you live with, work alongside, care about, and are living on this planet with?

Commit to putting people first and you will be amazed at how much your world thrives.