Too many Companies don’t place their People at the heart of their business strategy. For example, how many businesses, especially SMEs, have a People Plan aligned to their strategy? Or if they do have a People Plan, many do a poor job of executing it. In either instance, the result is an environment where employees are left thinking or feeling some or all of the following:
I’m not being set up for success in my role
I don’t feel like my company cares about me or values what I do
I’m not doing work that excites me everyday
My wellbeing is being impacted negatively
The only way to progress my career is to jump ship
We know this is the current reality in many companies because research on employee engagement shows high levels of dissatisfaction. (For example, HR Review research indicates 53% of employees and a massive 70% of line managers are actively looking for a new job). If these staff do then leave, it results in costly and time-consuming recruitment to replace them. But if they stay, their disengagement can spread to others, ensuring that the business can’t maximise its results. Clearly, neither outcome is desirable.
But when there is deliberate and authentic action to prioritising employees within the company, engagement increases, individual and collective performance accelerates and business results are positively impacted. Such a “People First” approach is needed now more than ever…
We all know that Covid has acted as a stimulus for employees to review and reconsider their priorities. They now have higher expectations for a more satisfying employee experience, with greater flexibility, wellbeing support and a better work-life balance. Add to this, the multi-generational nature of the workforce, from baby-boomers to Gen Z, and their differing expectations, as well as the emerging cost of living crisis. In short business leaders have 2 broad options; ignore what is going on and hope. Or consciously adopt an approach which deliberately highlights people.
All of this begs the question; how do you drive a People First culture? It sounds very grand, but in reality, it doesn’t need to be complicated, and it doesn’t need to cost lots of money or take loads of time. It is about creating and implementing a simple plan which appropriately reflects the needs of employees. When leaders genuinely focus on their employees, they understand what matters to them and provide them with an environment where they can consistently perform at their best. Not only does this deliver a great employee experience for existing staff, it also makes the Company a more desirable choice for future staff too.
The current environment provides the impetus and opportunity, as well as the need, to focus on a company’s most important assets; and therefore if Leaders prioritise one thing over the coming period, it should be to put their People First.