5 steps to become a people-first business

5 steps to become a people-first business

Businesses around the world spend billions each year convincing customers that their brand is better than all the rest. But what about employees and their experience of working for the company?

Employees are the most important asset in any company. Yet barely a fraction of the amount invested on optimising the customer experience is spent on creating a workplace that makes employees proud and privileged to be part of the team.

Companies that truly understand that their people are paramount to success, and show them this in actions as well as in words create great workforce experiences that attract and retain the best. I like to call these organisations, ‘People Companies.’ But how can you start the journey towards creating great workforce experiences that embody this title – and why is this such an urgent priority?

The infamous global ‘war for talent’ means that it’s never been more important to reappraise the relationship between workers and employees. The rise of social media makes it easier than ever for disgruntled employees to share their poor working experiences, and this can have a devastating effect on recruiting and retaining the skills a business needs to achieve its ambitions.

So what can businesses do to become ‘People Companies’, and put their employees first? Here are five steps that any business can take to set them on their path to creating great employee experiences.

  1. Show your appreciation

Sometimes, it’s the little things that make a great difference to the employee experience. It is very important for employees to feel valued in the workplace. That’s why businesses need to review their existing processes so that employees are given recognition, praise and rewards for the great work they do.

This can sometimes be just a simple “thank you” for work well done, but the important thing here is that it will be different for each employee. True ‘People Companies’ ask their employees what motivates and engages them and create tailored experiences for them that reflect this as a result.

  1. Provide flexible and remote working

Today, most employees, value flexible or remote working. Insisting that employees keep certain hours, or refusing to grant them opportunities to work from home is a recipe for resentment.

In an ultra-competitive candidate marketplace, providing flexibility – and, just as importantly, trust – is an excellent way to foster great relationships with your workers. It empowers them to manage their own time and gives them much-needed flexibility in today’s world of work.

After all, why shouldn’t employees work from 7am and finish earlier if they’re more productive in the mornings, or have international calls first thing? Why should parents have to miss the school run just to be seen to be in the office, when they may be working long evenings too?

  1. Make rewards meaningful

Most employees don’t want ping pong tables or office perks. Instead, incentives need to be linked to individual performance and tailored to each person’s preferences. Rewards could include a promotion, more varied experiences, pay increases, more opportunities for remote working, but these will differ from employee to employee. This requires HR and People teams to engage with each worker to discover how to build bespoke benefits.

Think about how you could do more to improve wellness at work. Whether its offering subsidised gym membership or improving mental health support, businesses must demonstrate that they take employees’ health and wellbeing seriously.

  1. Engage and iterate

It might seem obvious, but if you want to build a great workplace experience for all, you need to engage with employees. It’s impossible to become a ‘People Company’ if you don’t listen to workers’ concerns and make the necessary changes in light of what you’ve learned.

Make sure you’re constantly encouraging honest and confidential feedback processes, whereby employees can offer insights and you can better understand their needs.

5. Putting people at the heart of what you do

HR and People teams need to lead this cultural transformation and create positive experiences at work. However, they can’t do it alone. The entire top table needs to be responsible for delivering positive experiences across the workforce.

Why? Because this matters. The better an employee’s experience at work, the more engaged they are, the more productive they can be, and the more the business benefits. It makes economic sense – as well as being the right thing to do for your employees.





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