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3 Novel Reasons Neuroscience Reveals Business Problems Are Actually People Problems

If we want to understand the complexities of business, we need to understand the complexities of the brain and break it down into simple strategies for success.

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Whoever said, “business isn’t personal” clearly didn’t understand the complexities of business. When it comes down to it, doing business can be one of the most intimate and fulfilling experiences we endure as entrepreneurs. Although running a business has many facets, it should never be taken lightly, as these interactions can have significant consequences for better for worse. Just ask any business owner.

The same goes for the people who make up the business. Regardless of the industry, we must understand that business can and should be very personal because we’re all in the business of serving people at the end of the day. 

Without people, there would be no need for the creation of new technology or innovation in an industry. If we didn’t have a person on the other end of the phone interested in our new product or service, there wouldn’t be a reason to create it. And if people weren’t in search of what we offer, we wouldn’t be in business for very long. 

People will always be an essential part of business, no matter how many advances we see with AI and technology, which is why companies need to prioritize their people to maximize their business. Once companies start to realize their biggest assets are their employees, they will possess the capacity to serve their clients and customers on a deeper level. Thus, innovation in business should never die because if businesses keep investing in their people, their people will continue to evolve the business. When we understand people, we understand business. And if we want to understand people, we need to understand how neuroscience and behavioral psychology will be the essential tools of the future for creating cutting edge technology and innovation in business. 

1.) Business Isn’t “Business As Usual” Anymore; It’s Time To Invest in Your People

Wouldn’t it be great if we could go back to the good ole days where we hired people right out of high school and college with the expectations that they were going to plan on working at our company for most of their careers? Nostalgia is a fickle double-edged sword. 

Let’s face it: The times have changed. We no longer have the “life long” workers who are planning on investing 20-30 years at the same company to max out their retirement accounts, obtain their workplace stability, and put in the work to become an essential part of the long term growth of a company. In today’s world, things look vastly different than they did 10-15 years ago, specifically because of the Millennial Generation occupying nearly 35% of the current workforce, closely followed by their Gen Z counterparts who are slowly entering into the workplace. 

There’s no shortage of discussion around how businesses should be evolving to accommodate the Millennial expectations of the workplace, most notably with companies investing in silly bean bags and ping-pong tables. The biggest issue that companies are facing is changing the way they drive leadership and employee engagement in the office. 

Employees are no longer just looking for a job; they want a career. Having a career means having an opportunity to grow, change, and be a part of a company that provides actual value to their customers AND society. 

They are no longer feeling fulfilled working for work’s sake. As Gallup reports, a majority of the workforce (over 51%) is disengaged at work, costing US-based companies around $550 billion a year

Yet many companies are caught with their tail between their legs because of their inability to shift and adapt their leadership teams to take action. 

People are no longer just looking for a place to work; They want a place where they can thrive. This mentality greatly benefits businesses who are willing to invest in their employees, as organizations with connected employees can improve productivity by 20-25%

Engaged employees utilize specific areas of the brain more efficiently, specifically within the frontal lobe, where we process executive function and memory-related tasks. Once we start to deviate from utilizing these higher-level areas of the brain, our lower emotional brain starts to take over and create potentially unwarranted “stress responses,” which can alter our ability to cognitively process information and make informed decisions. 

2.) EQ is The New IQ – Emotional Intelligence is The Wave of The Future

It wasn’t so long ago that companies were highly focused on hiring the brightest, smartest, and most intelligent employees to fulfill roles within their organization. This mentality was based on the notion that hiring smart people would lead to better business outcomes and employee output. And it was deeply flawed. 

Fast forward today to a vastly different landscape for hiring, with employers making significant efforts to vet their potential hires via various forms of theoretical psychological and emotionally vested situations. This type of interview is focused on Emotional Intelligence, which is described as the “ability to recognize and control one’s inner emotions, while also possessing the ability to relate and connect with the emotions of other people.” 

Interviews are no longer strictly based on an employee’s previous schooling and job requirements. Hiring managers are now spending a considerable amount of time hiring the right person versus hiring the right skills. Workplace skills can be taught, but personality traits and mentality are difficult to change, especially when an individual is placed in a stressful work environment full of vastly new landscapes of innovation and advancing technology. 

For these reasons, we should be continuously assessing and monitoring our “people problems” to solve our “business problems”, as they are a two-way street that can yield significant impacts on workplace culture, employee engagement, and personnel turnover. 

3.) The Health of Your People = The Health of Your Business

Stress in The Workplace estimates that $200-$300 billion a year is lost in workplace productivity due to stress-related illnesses that negatively affect workers’ overall health and wellbeing. Let that sink in for a moment. 

These numbers shouldn’t surprise us, as 95% of HR leaders say employee burnout is “sabotaging workforce retention.” Regardless of how innovative or advanced our technology is, it will never be a replacement for the people who make up a business. 

For these reasons, it is imperative that we invest in our employees’ health and well being, as this will always be one of the most efficient ways to maximize employee output and engagement. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put together the fact that if people are healthy, their brains are healthy, allowing for higher cognitive processing and decision-making that will directly affect the business’s output as a whole. 

People who feel good are more apt to work harder and longer at their job, merely because they aren’t being sidetracked in their physical or mental capacity due to pain, fatigue, or poor brain function. More importantly, we now have evidence that excessive visceral body fat can decrease our ability to cognitive process information due to underlying inflammation affecting the brain’s ability to form and recall memories! 

The Final Straw

With the average business spending around $1,286 per employee on workplace training and higher-learning systems, these numbers are expected to increase over time due to rapidly changing technology and best-company practices. We have yet to see how much companies are willing to invest in their employees’ general health and well-being, as these investments can pay significant dividends in decreasing employee turnover, improving employee engagement, and alleviating unnecessary sick leave. 

And while most companies offer these types of programs for their employees, the statistics show that only 20% of the employees polled would be willing to choose to implement a modified health plan or take action on the information. We clearly need a significant shift in our company culture and mindset on health and wellness in the workplace. 

For those companies that are willing to put in the time, energy, and effort to invest in their employee’s health and well being, the rewards will be tremendous. The latest estimates state that for every dollar spent in these types of programs, companies can earn a range of $1.50-$3.00 back over a 2-9 year time period. 

If you’re in it for the long haul, it makes sense to treat your employees as assets, as this will always pay significant dividends down the road to achieving maximal personal and professional success. 

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