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How to Create a People First Community In A Social Impact Business

Updated: Oct 13, 2022

Leaders know that employees are important to their business. But how many leaders actually intentionally build people first companies and cultures?

Businesses should ideally value people over profit. Unfortunately, not a lot of companies do. Instead, they invest in creating sound business strategies, carefully crafted with research, logic, and best practices. But the sooner leaders realize that the gap between strategy and results is people, the sooner they can unlock their full potential and thrive.

Lisa Hannum knew she wanted to make a change. So she began a journey to create a people first business. She shares how putting people first drives social impact by creating empowered, motivated, and curious employees, helping their business and mission thrive.

The Thought Process Behind People First

Can you work successfully and independently in strategic communication? Can you truly create an optimized way of working that would be healthy for your family, employees, and clients?

When you hire an employee, either fractional or full time, aim for a people first culture. That means working reasonable hours, gaining rewarding experiences as professionals, and doing great work for clients. For that, you’ll need flexibility and remote technology.

Creating a Culture of Flow

It’s important to find your flow. Things change constantly. Thus, flow is a conscious mindset away from control and structure. It allows you to work flexibly so you can adapt to any shifts.

As Lisa shares, “It’s not about relaxing your standards, your commitments, your obligations. It’s about changing your mindset to say, ‘If I can open up to how things flow, I may end up in some place even better than I predicted when I was trying to rigidly control how things are going to advance.’”


Values are the behaviour contract between the company and all of its stakeholders and people and communities it serves.

Growth Mindset

Beehive’s top value is a growth mindset. So they always want to change, optimize, and grow. Shifting into the mindset turns everything into an opportunity.

Managing Time

Structure your company to know that people need to rest and focus on their wellbeing. That’s where curiosity, energy, and positivity come from. If you don’t support your employees’ personal health and wellbeing, they can’t show up as driven, inspirational workers. So make their hours clear and stick to them.

Creating Plans

Lisa says, “Plans are a compass, they are not GPS.”

You need to be willing as an organization and as individuals to flow with what is and what develops over time. With a directional compass, your team will gain clarity on where their time is planned, prepare for roadblocks, and spot opportunities.

Monitor what employees are doing and their priorities. Empower your people to recognize how things are shifting and openly communicate if they are on time or need help.

Managing Time

Provide your employees with a scope, budget, and timeframe for projects. Adjust to their expectations and time as needed. Having financial clarity and plans allows you to budget well and deploy people efficiently.

How to Create a People First Culture

Creating a people first company is indeed a journey. Start with the core of your company. What kind of company do you want to make? Why do you want to create a people first culture?

Being people first is all about the experience and engagement. Your people are the most solid foundation possible. Beehive has six components to creating a people first culture:

  • Growth and development

  • Personal and professional skills

  • Flexibility

  • Full salary transparency

  • Appreciation and respect

  • Social impact commitment

Challenges in Building a People First Culture

Understand that it’s not about getting there. It’s about shifting your mindset from “culture is a combination of things we do” to culture is who we are” and realizing that culture is about doing things with consistency, optimization, and growth mindset. From there, you could make clear and conscious decisions on how to structure your practices and policies to serve people.

When creating a people first business, you also need to hire strategically and consciously. Potential talents need opportunities to grow and thrive. So make sure to incorporate diversity in your team and consider people across the board.

Why Salary Transparency Is Key

Salary transparency creates equity. Be clear about employees’ roles and the according pay band. That allows them to know where they are sitting and where they are headed. Just as Lisa states, “They have to know with confidence that we implement and we run our business based on the pay bands, which we do. And keep in mind, employers are foolish if they think their employees do not talk about salaries.”

Start by benchmarking salaries based on a national, regional, and predominant headquarters market. It should be independent, credible, reliable, and implementable over time. From there, you could set salary bands.

Finding a Financial Partner

You know that you have a responsibility to know about the business finances. But creating financial strategies is best left to the professionals. Hiring a financial partner is key. So figure out what your business needs. It depends on what seats are well occupied, the stage of your business, and what seats are empty.

Find the right employees with experience and skills you need. Then, promise them a balance between work, life, and reward. Strive toward their happiness and satisfaction.

How Small Businesses Can Invest in People

Here are some tips on investing in your people:

  1. Clarify your goals.

  2. Develop clear and effective metrics.

  3. Measure performance and adjust.

Lisa shares, “I don’t know all the answers, Christina. My job is to listen and learn and facilitate and to bring my team with me. Bring our clients with us in a world right now that’s very, very challenging to navigate. That’s really my role, is to be consistent, to really keep my eyes on that North Star, and to constantly be measuring.”

Focusing on your people is a solid foundation for helping your business grow and thrive. As a business owner, you can empower employees by maximizing their potential and making sure they are in top shape so they can show up as their best selves and deliver quality work.

Curious about Lisa and her work at Beehive? Visit their website to learn about strategic communication, inspiring growth and action, and more. You can connect with Lisa Hannum on LinkedIn or send her an email.

If you want to grow your team to take your business to the next level, a CFO could help you figure out your next best move. Understand how to price fairly yet competitively and maximize your profits with the help of a finance team. Schedule a discovery call with Profit Reimagined™ to help you cover your foundations and deepen your understanding of these concepts.


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