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The Human Element: Your Most Important Business Resource Create a company culture that prioritizes people.

By Zach Ferres

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


From wearables to rugged tech, the digital world has infiltrated every aspect of business, and everyone is drooling over the latest gadgets.

But although technology is front-and-center in today's corporate world, that doesn't mean you can forget about the employees -- those very important people behind the scenes.

As author Daniel Pink notes in his book , Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, as the number of jobs that require cognitive skill increases, people are more important than ever.

These "thought jobs," as Pink calls them, require a higher level of creativity, problem-solving prowess and out-of-the-box thinking, meaning that in order for a business to be successful, it needs to learn how to leverage its unique human element.

Every part of your business boils down to people. And by understanding the human element, you'll be more profitable, lead more effectively, create brand loyalty, close more deals and do better work. Taking this approach also forces you to consider your own motivations, and this can lead you to become more empathetic and understanding.

To enjoy these benefits, however, you have to build the human element into your company's core values. Here are four steps to get you started.

Related: 10 Behaviors of Genuine People

1. Tie individual goals to company goals.

Pink suggests that people aren't necessarily motivated by money, especially those involved in thought jobs. Instead, they're motivated by a desire for "autonomy, mastery and purpose."

Employee performance improves when you tie individual goals to company goals in a meaningful way. The best leaders understand what makes people tick, so give your teammates what they need to succeed and hold them accountable to your expectations.

2. Connect with your customers on a deeper level

Marketing and sales are no longer about getting as many eyeballs as possible on your advertisements. People are so inundated with ads and sales pitches that they're not very effective anymore.

It's much more important to build meaningful relationships with consumers. Harley-Davidson discovered this, and now people get tattoos of its logo. Apple discovered this, and now people put its logo on their cars. Effective marketing gets at the heart of what drives people.

Encourage your team to build real relationships with customers. This will foster trust and brand loyalty. My personal key to success has been to network and build authentic relationships. After I build the relationship, it's easy to find ways to help each other grow and succeed.

Related: 7 Ways Toxic Managers Stifle Employee Motivation and Productivity

3. Put health first

I've found that my employees perform better when wellness and work-life balance are prioritized. If you want employees to perform at maximum capacity, they need to take care of themselves.

Tony Schwartz's book, The Way We're Working Isn't Working, changed my perception about integrating health into my company's culture. Charlie Kim's fantastic keynote at the 2014 Colorado Health Symposium also sheds light on this topic.

To inspire employees, we're implementing for a team fitness and accountability system. We also provide unlimited paid time off and free healthy snacks, and we host "Coplex Clean Eats" on Wednesdays.

4. Center yourself

Being an entrepreneur isn't easy, and things don't always go as planned. I initially struggled to balance my work life with my personal life. It was hard to be the "rock" for my employees, my friends and my family.

During this time, I read several books about personal growth -- classics such as Think and Grow Rich and Man's Search for Meaning -- and they focused on understanding your own psychology. Once you know yourself, you can control your emotions, exude gratitude and live with a purpose.

No matter what business you're in, the human element is omnipresent. You need to understand that just like your family members, employees and clients, you're only human. Leading with empathy is the best way to attain success in business. And by cultivating a culture that prioritizes the human element, you can get back to what really matters -- people.

Related: 8 Ways to Effectively Lead Entrepreneurial Employees

Zach Ferres

Advisor, Board Member & Investor

Zach Ferres is a serial entrepreneur, speaker and technology executive passionate about developing entrepreneurial communities around the world. He built and sold his first tech company at 24 and was the CEO of Coplex for eight years, where he supported the creation of over 200 startup companies.

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