People Ahead Of Profits Will Ultimately Pay Off

People Ahead Of Profits Will Ultimately Pay Off
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In this guest post, the CEO of Zinc Group, Peter Cleary, says if COVID-19 has proven anything in this time of survival, it’s the value of the people in your team…

It’s no secret that many organisations have suffered during COVID-19. As we see more restrictions lift, the fortunate ones are putting their businesses back together, piece by piece. We’ve all experienced huge insecurity as the pipeline of work completely vanished – at Zinc, we lost 60 per cent of revenue in the first month.

The new financial year presents an opportunity for teams eager for resources to action recovery. With most companies still in crisis mode, decision makers will be frugal when allocating budgets. Nobody was prepared for a global pandemic and nobody will want to be caught off guard again, so the bean counters will be cautious splitting numbers.

For us, COVID-19 has affirmed that the team of people in any business is a company’s most valuable asset, with no exception. When planning forward and allocating budgets for the next financial year, be sure to invest in your team. People and culture tend to be completely ignored, sacrificed for the immediacy of cashflow, so are often hardest hit in a crisis and the first budget cut, but now is not the time to neglect either – both are crucial to sustainable success.

During a crisis, a global pandemic even – your team are the only people you can rely on to stabilise your business. I pose that your people should always be prioritised ahead of short-term profit.

To put it in perspective, think about how much your business spends entertaining clients and compare this to the time and money spent on strengthening your team. Wooing your own team members ultimately results in wooing your clients where it matters most – through the work.

We’ve invested in our people since we launched Zinc 15 years ago, and today I can attest to that investment paying off in spades. Even in a global pandemic, our team and culture has made our business adaptable and flexible – making us bulletproof.

After our revenue collapsed in March, we gave our entire team the likely outcome of losing teammates, or everyone taking a salary cut. Their response was swift and unanimous – they wanted to protect each other from unemployment – and at that point we vowed not to lose a single team member because of the impact of Covid-19.

Out of necessity (the mother of invention!), our motto was “speed trumps perfection”. We hustled with an emerging strategy (truth is, we made it up as we went along) and utilised our global capabilities to produce PPE. Our team brought ZincProtect to life in two weeks and started closing multi-million dollar deals soon after.

Even more inspiring, behind the scenes people were donating their annual leave to colleagues who needed personal leave and reducing their working hours to help the broader business. We even dedicated resources to helping people outside of Zinc get jobs – we focused on helping our clients and Zinc family and friends who had been made redundant find new positions. Talk can be cheap, but in the ultimate stress test, our entire team was unwavering in its effort to support each other and the business.

Looking towards a new chapter post-COVID-19, I urge leaders to challenge traditional business assumptions and be courageous in their decisions. Make your people the heart of your business. Share your vision, hear their ideas, be radically honest/transparent, win their trust and bring them along the journey with you.

For businesses who have not actively practiced building culture try starting with the way new team members are inducted into your business. We have a full two-week program for new team members to understand our purpose and learn our values and culture. It’s something we actively practise day in, day out.

It’s easier to reflect on the past months now because in the thick of it stress, adrenaline and sleepless nights were rife. But this experience has well and truly confirmed what I always knew knew to be the case: my people are my business’ most valuable asset, and they are well worth the investment.

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Peter Cleary Zinc Group

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