How Business Leaders Adopt a People-First Approach



November 8, 2022

A 2022 Gallup survey of 13,085 employees shows that wellbeing concerns have risen in recent years when looking for a new job. Of those surveyed, 61% want greater work-life balance and better personal wellbeing. An estimated 58% want the ability to do their best work, focusing on what they are naturally gifted to do. A further 42% prefer to work for organisations that are diverse and inclusive of all types of people

Today’s employees do not see a clear distinction between work and other parts of their life. They expect more flexible conditions and an opportunity to play to their strengths in the workplace. 

It’s a fundamental shift to an employee-focused culture. To make this culture shift, companies must move away from focusing on short-term profits. Leaders have a range of considerations – customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, and profits. Yet, a people-first approach means that the paramount concern for leaders is their team members.  

A Forbes article summed it up perfectly. The article notes,  

“The leaders of people-centric organisations understand that it is people who make their company successful. These companies realise that when people feel valued and cared for, they do their work with stronger intrinsic motivation, a deeper sense of meaning, and a greater level of engagement. They go the extra mile simply because they want to contribute to an organisation that cares about them.”  

This article highlights four elements for adopting a people-first approach: 

  • Build a culture of purpose and meaning 
  • Don’t get hung up on job titles 
  • Strive for better employee experiences 
  • Set an excellent people-first example 

Build a culture of purpose and meaning 

According to McKinsey Digital, top talent seek meaningful work and opportunities to grow and develop. One of the ways to embed purpose and meaning at work is to trust people’s abilities, giving them responsibility and accountability. Employees who feel caged or constrained at work tend to leave for workplaces that let them flourish and thrive. Autonomy is crucial from the onset, with some guidance and a progression path. With hybrid working, leaders must up their communication game and resist the urge to micro-manage their team.  

Putting people at the heart of your organisation not only makes business sense but is also more sustainable. 

Don’t get hung up on job titles 

The different job titles a company uses could signify its way of working. Whether you go for trendier titles like Growth Hacker or Chief Happiness Officer, or more traditional titles of Software Engineer and HR Manager, don’t make out to be what you’re not. Ensure your job titles reflect the responsibility of the role while leaving room for employees to make the role their own. Regardless of job titles, people-first cultures view everyone as leaders in their own right. This removes egos and other barriers to reaching their full potential. Focus more on your work practices and how to modernise your culture for the 21st-century worker.  

Strive for better employee experiences 

Beyond a conducive culture, better tech and great office space, employee experience needs to include the “whole care” of employees. Listen and show empathy, so employees feel genuinely cared for and are more likely to remain loyal to your organisation. Providing better experiences doesn’t need to cost the earth. Some nurturing self-care perks that contribute to your employees’ wellbeing could make a positive difference. Employee experience roadmaps are becoming commonplace in many organisations seeking a better culture. These roadmaps could eliminate the “us versus them” mentality that tears down employee morale. 

Set an outstanding people-first example 

We’ve often heard that culture comes from the top. To sustain a people-first approach, leaders must be role models, leading by example at every opportunity. Leaders and managers should get to know the individuals in their teams and allow themselves to be known by their teams. Interact on a human-to-human level and reduce hierarchy in workplace relationships to be rewarded with the full potential of your employees.  

At Quirk Solutions, we work with business leaders to enhance their teams’ abilities to create their own solutions. Our Q-suito model helps embed lasting organisational change, including a shift to a people-first approach.  

To find out more, email [email protected].

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