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5 min read

The Owner’s Mindset: Empowering Employees To Think Like An Owner

There is a lot of buzz around “empowering employees” right now, and rightly so. The nature of today's employee is changing, marked by a desire for a deeper connection to their work and the organizations where they invest their time and talents. This shift reflects a broader trend toward seeking purpose, autonomy, and a sense of belonging in professional settings. Employees no longer view their roles as mere jobs but as integral parts of their identity and personal fulfillment. This evolution necessitates a rethinking of traditional employee engagement strategies, with a focus on fostering an ownership mindset among staff.




The Changing Nature of Today's Employee

Today's employees are looking for more than just a paycheck from their jobs. They seek meaningful work, growth opportunities, and a culture that values their contributions and well-being. This generation of workers is characterized by a strong desire for purpose and impact in their roles. They want to know that their work matters, not just to the bottom line but in contributing to broader societal and organizational goals.

Furthermore, today's employees value transparency and inclusivity, wanting to be part of the decision-making process and understanding how their efforts fit into the larger picture of the organization. They are more inclined towards companies that provide autonomy, encourage innovation, and support their professional and personal development.

I can recall numerous conversations with employees who, despite their relatively short tenure of just six months, are already asking, “What’s next for me here?” Gone are the days when employees were content to do the same task, over and over, year after year, and find contentment. So, how do we change our internal practices to satisfy this desire for understanding and growth of today’s workforce?


Thinking Like an Owner

Encouraging employees to think like owners can significantly enhance engagement, innovation, and loyalty. An ownership mindset means employees see themselves as stakeholders in the business, with a vested interest in its success. They are more likely to go above and beyond, think creatively about solving problems, and act proactively in the best interests of the organization. This mindset fosters a culture of accountability, where employees take responsibility for their actions and outcomes and are motivated to seek continuous improvement.


Business Acumen

Increasing the business acumen of employees is a critical strategic move for any organization aiming to enhance its competitive edge, foster innovation, and improve decision-making across all levels. Business acumen, in essence, refers to an understanding of how a company makes money and achieves its goals, including insight into financials, market dynamics, industry trends, and how decisions impact overall performance. This skill set enables employees to make more informed decisions, better understand their role within the larger context of the organization, and contribute to its success more effectively.


Transparency and Understanding Around Where We Are Going

Engaging employees in the company's strategic vision, particularly around revenue growth, bottom-line health, and strategic goals, is crucial to aligning efforts across the organization and fostering a culture of inclusion, accountability, and purpose. When employees understand the strategic vision and goals, they can align their daily tasks and long-term objectives with the broader company direction. This alignment ensures that every action and decision contributes to the organization's overall success, optimizing resources and minimizing wasted effort.




Building a Roadmap of Opportunity

What is the road map for designing opportunities to help employees think like owners?  Creating structured opportunities for learning and growth, fostering an inclusive culture, and encouraging engagement at all levels for employees is the first step toward the outcomes discussed here. Here's a detailed approach:


Phase 1: Building The Foundation

1. Orientation and Onboarding – This begins on day 1 for a new employee. Spending time exploring the company, the owners, and how the values show up daily is key to creating connection.

  • Objective: Introduce new employees to the company's mission, vision, values, and strategic goals from day one.

  • Action Steps: Incorporate presentations from leadership, interactive sessions on company history, and discussions on how each department contributes to overall success. Have new hires meet with the entire leadership team to hear how each department impacts the success of the company.

2. Business Acumen Training – What do employees need to know to understand what drives the business forward? How are decisions made in the organization? What is considered?

  • Objective: Equip employees with basic financial literacy and understanding of business operations.

  • Action Steps: Offer workshops on reading financial statements, understanding market dynamics, and recognizing how different roles impact the bottom line. How can the CFO or Finance team participate in these learning opportunities?


Phase 2: Engagement and Development

3. Cross-Functional Projects – If employees are going to know the business well, they cannot exist in a silo in their singular departments. How can they spend time in and learn from other employees in different departments?

  • Objective: Broaden employees' understanding of the business by exposing them to different areas.

  • Action Steps: Create opportunities for employees to work on projects outside their usual department, fostering collaboration and insight into various aspects of the business.

    Learn how we achieved this through our Top Gun Program


4. Mentorship Programs – Who holds the intellectual capital in the organization? Do you have a succession plan for that person? Are you using those people strategically to share their knowledge and learning so that they can help grow the next group of leaders?

  • Objective: Connect employees with experienced mentors to guide their development.

  • Action Steps: Pair employees with mentors who can provide insights into the strategic direction of the company and how to contribute effectively.


5. Leadership and Business Strategy Sessions It's crucial for employees to understand how organizational decisions are made. Often, decisions are reached after extensive discussions at the executive level, yet employees only experience the final decision without any insight into the decision-making process.

  • Objective: Deepen employees' understanding of the company's strategic goals and challenges.

  • Action Steps: Hold regular sessions where leaders share updates on the company's performance, strategic priorities, and industry trends.


Phase 3: Empowerment and Ownership

6. Decision-Making Autonomy – Allowing employees to make decisions…and mistakes is key. Truly owning the decision and the result is important to the development of confidence for an employee. Embracing a culture that learns from failure rather than runs from it will push organizational innovation.

  • Objective: Encourage employees to take ownership of their work and decisions.

  • Action Steps: Gradually increase the level of autonomy in decision-making, allowing employees to lead projects or make choices within defined parameters.


7. Innovation Labs and Think Tanks – The people who intimately know the process and the clients in the organization should be given a platform to come forward with a big idea that might push the company forward. With the inception of AI and the fast pace of technology, there are few (if any) companies that currently have the right tools and people they need to really lean into the trajectory that technology can offer on growth and innovation.

  • Objective: Stimulate creativity and innovation by involving employees in strategic brainstorming.

  • Action Steps: Create forums or innovation labs where employees can propose new ideas, products, or efficiency improvements.

This roadmap is designed to evolve as employees grow within the company, ensuring that the development of business acumen and an ownership mindset is an ongoing journey. By investing in these areas, businesses can cultivate a workforce that is not only skilled and knowledgeable but also deeply aligned with the company's strategic objectives and motivated to contribute to its success.


The Path Forward

Shaping a culture where employees think like owners and possess a robust understanding of business acumen requires a comprehensive and evolving strategy. This approach not only equips them with the necessary tools and knowledge to navigate the complexities of today’s business landscape but also instills a sense of belonging and purpose. By fostering an environment that encourages continuous learning, cross-functional collaboration, and a stake in the company's success, organizations can unlock the full potential of their workforce. As employees grow to see the bigger picture and understand their pivotal role within it, they become not just workers, but true partners in driving innovation, efficiency, and growth. This aspirational journey toward a deeply engaged and empowered workforce is the cornerstone of building resilient, agile, and successful businesses in the ever-changing global market.

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