Through the years I have had some great conversations about my title, Chief Inspiration Officer. It continues to surprise me that more organizations do not have similar positions, but I guess it reinforces to me – and hopefully to others – that Systemware’s culture is a rarity, especially for a technology company. We have a mantra here – “Employees are everything” – that often furrows some brows when we speak to individuals outside of our company. “You put employees first?” “What about the customer?”

It’s true that the “customer first” charge is something you’ll hear at most companies – and we’re not saying that it’s misguided by any means. From our experience, though, happy employees have a natural, positive effect on every customer or prospect they touch. At Systemware roughly 80 percent of our employees directly communicate with our customers and prospects – a striking contrast to the industry average of 37 percent.  There is tremendous value in ensuring the ambassadors of your brand know and feel that they are appreciated. It is only then that a truly customer-obsessed organization can emerge.

It’s similar to football. In a game, you have 11 men on the field. But if one player fails at their task, the entire play is compromised.  Making sure that every player is in good health, understands the play, and performs in unison with the team is critical for success. We see our business operating in a similar way. Systemware is a small company competing in a big culture, and our generational sustainability is second-to-none.

My role as Chief Inspiration Officer is inherently tied to Dan and Frankie Basso’s objective to focus on our employees. My ultimate purpose at Systemware is to be a resource for our employees – to help individuals feel stronger and, in turn, strengthen our team. Professional development is a priority for us, and I play a large role in facilitating education and career advancement opportunities for our dedicated employees.

But mine isn’t an HR position – my objectives are different than that. I am to our employees whatever they need me to be: a professional mentor, a skills coach, a sounding board, a counselor, or a friend. We’ll work together, talk together, and pray together. Often I just do a lot of listening.

So many organizations today don’t focus on people anymore. We are fortunate here at Systemware to have a small team that has been working in this “employees are everything” culture since the start – and I credit that entirely to Dan Basso and the legacy he is passing on to Frankie.

We hope to be an example of a cultural shift away from the traditional corporate culture, and we suspect that many companies might be itching to take a similar approach. It might not be an easy change to make, but it’s not impossible. Within the parameters of your goals for your company, put employees first. Take inventory and see if you’re concentrating on your people. Regardless of what business you’re in, if your people are happy, the people they touch will know it.

As we mark the 133rd celebration of Labor Day in our country, we are reminded again that our priorities couldn’t be better defined: Our employees are everything.