Profits matter, employees don’t


A Washington Post analysis found 45 of the 50 biggest U.S. companies turned a profit since March. The majority of firms cut staff and gave the bulk of profits to shareholders. It seems that profits are more important than employees to most companies.

With few exceptions, big businesses are having a very different year from most of the country. Between April and September, one of the most tumultuous economic stretches in modern history, 45 of the 50 most valuable publicly traded U.S. companies turned a profit, a Washington Post analysis found.

The data reveals a split screen inside many big companies this year. On one side, corporate leaders are touting their success and casting themselves as leaders on the road to economic recovery. On the other, many of their firms have put Americans out of work and used their profits to increase the wealth of shareholders.

Too many companies are failing their employees and will pay the price. Employees who are treated well tend to go the extra distance for customers because they feel they represent the brand. When employees are happy and satisfied with their work, they are also more likely to be more productive as well.

Treating employees with respect, showing appreciation for their work and being an encourager will create a desire in employees to also treat customers and clients well. It will contribute to higher productivity levels and profitability. It makes employees want to come to work and not dread it. It inspires and motivates them to work harder, produce more and become more engaged.

It’s easy to raise profits by cutting expenses (people), but most CEOs could care less about employees as they’re compensated on the balance sheet. Cutting expenses means more profits and a bigger bonus.

Here’s a radical concept–treat your employees as well as you do your best customers, and your business will reap rewards beyond your wildest imagination. Entrepreneur Richard Branson, who is celebrated for running incredibly successful companies built around happy workforces, writes: “Your employees are your company’s real competitive advantage. They’re the ones making the magic happen–so long as their needs are being met.”

Companies are coming under increased scrutiny from media, customers, investors, and other stakeholders for organizational practices that used to be hidden from the public. People now have access to information including companies’ wages and benefits, sexual harassment policies, and involvement in political issues. Plus, social media gives consumers a voice with which to speak out against companies they believe are unfair or irresponsible — and they expect those companies to listen and respond. Especially prominent individuals, those with social media followers who number in the tens or hundreds of thousands, or even the millions, can have as much influence on companies as traditional media outlets have in the past. Meanwhile, companies are trying to use social media to engage customers in two-way, personal communication, so they must address the concerns people raise and the criticisms they wield.

Brands that believe they can just let people go while profits rise are being noticed for their practices which is one reason why people are so willing to try new, smaller, brands.

Business leaders must recognize that a company’s employment practices can shape brand perceptions just as much as traditional marketing efforts. Lay off a lot of people and blaming it on the pandemic while profits rise is going to lead to consumers questioning brand loyalty.

Profits matter, employees don’t