At Work

The Triple-Bottom-Line Impact of the Golden Rule

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Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen was famous for his rhetorical style because he sounded like a true politician. One of his more famous lines was “I am a man of fixed and unbending principles, the first of which is to be flexible at all times.” However, he is likely best known for this line: “When I feel the heat, I see the light.” When Sen. Dirksen felt the political pressure, he realized he needed to change how he was going to vote. When his situation became untenable, he realized he needed to do something different.

Today, workplaces in America are feeling the heat. The perspectives and practices that have brought American workplaces to this point are no longer working. Therefore, it should be of great concern to us how Gallup’s Chairman and CEO Jim Clifton summarized business leadership today in Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report: “The very practice of management no longer works.” Based on data collected since 2010 from nearly 200,000 employees and 31,000,000 respondents through their client database, Gallup’s 2017 report found that only one-third of the American workforce is engaged at their jobs, half of American workers are not engaged, and one-sixth are actively disengaged.

American management has produced low productivity, toxic workplace cultures, poor job satisfaction, compromised profitability, abysmal morale, and mistrust between leadership and employees. There is no question that both businesses and nonprofits in America are feeling the heat. The question is whether they will see the light.

This problem has been around for quite a while. Based on Gallup’s data, the lack of engagement of the workforce has been around since at least the turn of the millennium, and based on the trends, it shows no sign of changing in the near term.

The American workplace is not changing by itself, nor should we expect it to. While you can’t change the state of the American workplace, you can change the culture in your workplace by embracing the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Don’t focus on what you can’t do, but focus on what you can do.

For those who work for you, living the Golden Rule can make a huge impact in their lives. You can impact how they view your organization. You can affect how they feel about the work they do. You can change how they feel about themselves.

Ultimately, what you do every day is not about making a living. It’s about making a life. You can do more than just grow your organization. You can make a profound difference. Your organization can bring out the best in everyone around you. Your workplace can have a positive effect on your employees, your customers, your donors, your suppliers, and your community. You can put the Golden Rule into action and produce a transformational culture. As a result, your organization will have a triple-bottom-line impact.

1. Social Bottom Line

Through living the Golden Rule, you will foster greater employee engagement. Your employees will sense they are valued and that their work is appreciated. Your team will know that you care about them not only as workers but as people. They will feel the organization’s work matters and what they do personally matters. They will feel equipped, empowered, and entrusted to do good work. They will feel that they are listened to and understood. Your team will believe in your organization, go the extra mile for others, and have more joy in their work because you are willing to show them that you love them as you would love yourself (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 22:39; Mk. 12:31; Rom. 13:8-10; Gal. 5:14).

2. Economic Bottom Line

When you treat your team the way you would want to be treated, they will treat your customers the way they would want to be treated. Your customers will feel good about their interactions with your organization because your Golden Rule values will show through your team. That will enhance your brand and develop deeper customer trust. Because your customers will feel increased value from their dealings with you, you will retain them longer. As a result, you will likely produce more revenue.

Treating your team the way you would want to be treated will affect your suppliers too. Your team will see your suppliers in a new way and will treat them differently. As a result, your suppliers will be more willing to work with you even if you come upon hard times.

By intentionally creating a culture where you live the Golden Rule, you will be more profitable because you will be creating an environment in which you live out what you say you believe.

3. Spiritual Bottom Line

The people around you who don’t share your faith will be watching. They will be curious to see if you will live the Golden Rule consistently. They want to see if you mean what you say. If your actions back up your words, they will be inspired to learn more about your faith. By living the Golden Rule daily, you can reach people with the gospel and bless your community in a way that a church cannot do.

By intentionally designing your culture based on the Golden Rule—and consistently living it—your organization will have a transformational effect on people. You will be able to build your people, increase your revenue, and impact your community. As a result, your organization will have a triple-bottom-line impact.

Finally, living the Golden Rule will have the biggest impact on you. You will see yourself as a catalyst for change through steady faithfulness to this one command. And you will see the impact you can have—not just in making a living but in reengaging your employees, your customers, your donors, your suppliers, and beyond, all for God’s glory.

Editor’s note: This article was adapted from Dear Boss: What Your Employees Wish You Knew

Learn more about the biblical meaning of work in How Then Should We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work.

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