Top 6 Tips for Creating a People-First Company Culture

Discover why building an employee-focused company is important and get top tips for creating an organization filled with happy, satisfied, and engaged people.


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Top 6 Tips for Creating a People-First Company Culture

Is your news feed filled with articles about the benefits of employee-focused companies or building a positive company culture? Although the goal of most businesses is selling consumer packaged goods, physical products, digital downloads, or services, they are first made up of people.

Creating an employee-focused culture in your workforce puts the emphasis on people first. People-first staffing helps build team morale among your workers with a specific focus on your employees in lieu of a strictly customer-focused environment.

Rather than obsessing or only focusing on customers, a people-first organization takes a step back to concentrate on building a team filled with happy, satisfied, and loyal workers. Your people, AKA your employees, are your company’s greatest asset. They help keep things running smoothly both in public-facing and behind-the-scenes scenarios.

The Indeed Editorial Team says, “the people-oriented style focuses on interpersonal relationships within organizations, attempting to improve such relationships in order to increase productivity and create a positive work environment.”

This article will explore the ways to create a people-first organization with an emphasis on building a positive company culture.

Why build a people-first company?

Too many customers follow the old cliche “the customer is always right.” While satisfied customers are important to any business, this motto is sometimes overemphasized at the detriment of keeping staff happy, engaged, and motivated. Unhappy staff can result in dissatisfied employees and a high turnover rate.

People-focused organizations run by people-oriented leaders focus on building interpersonal relationships within the company. Instead of micromanaging team members, your leadership team from new regional managers to the human resources department or C-suite executives — act more as coaches focused on mentoring each member of their department.

What does it mean to be employee-focused?

Employee-focused leadership is a behavioral method where the leader focuses on building relationships with an emphasis on the overall well-being and satisfaction of all team members. The people-first method takes a different approach than a task-oriented leadership model which focuses on performing tasks necessary to reach a specific goal.

The problem with a task-oriented approach is that you aren’t taking a close look at employee satisfaction and this can result in problems with both long-term motivation and employee retention. Building genuine relationships with your employees, such as keeping the lines of communication open, not only fosters positive relationships, it also encourages collaboration with fellow team members.

Employee-focused leadership is a behavioral method where the leader focuses on building relationships with an emphasis on the overall well-being and satisfaction of all team members.

Why is employee focus important?

If your HR department is overwhelmed with high turnover rates, therefore continually scouting for employees — plus training and onboarding new hires — this can affect your overall profitability. Focusing on short-term immediate goals, such as sales and profits, often comes at the expense of long-term company growth. Employee health and wellness is just as important as a healthy financial balance.

While free gym memberships and a pool table in the employee lounge are nice perks, that’s not really taking a people-first staffing approach towards building a successful company. Rather, many employees, or potential employees, are likely more interested in your mission statement and company values than a long list of fringe benefits.

How to build a people-first company culture

Here are the top recommendations for creating an employee-focused company culture.

1. Open lines of communication

Encourage the sharing of ideas and schedule one-on-one meetings with each member of your team. Holding regular town hall meetings where staff can meet with your Chief Executive Officer, Director of Communications, Vice President of Marketing, or even the company founders. Frequent group meetings and regular sharing of important company information encourage interaction and the sharing of ideas.

Also, keep remote workers in mind, wherever they call home. Cloud-based tools like Slack, Trello, Asana, ClickUp, or Wrike are great project management and communication tools for your entire team.

2. Keep it simple

Streamline business operations and project management tasks. Employees get frustrated when faced with a complicated internal workflow process. Make it easy for them to reach out for help when needed. This can include anything from receiving regular feedback from other team members to hosting short 15 to 30-minute daily meetings to address any new roadblocks.

3. Strong leadership

A key way to keep employees happy on the job is by giving them opportunities to grow. Coaching, mentoring, training, and leading by example let employees feel like they are valuable and productive members of your company.

Employee-focused leaders are easy to approach and provide each member of their department with opportunities to learn new skills. This helps keep team members motivated and engaged at work.

4. Key performance indicators

While you are probably familiar with key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure business success, a people-first organization can also focus on creating employee KPIs. Track things like employee turnover, overall employee engagement, the total number of employees, number of key hires, customer retention, and number of customer interactions.

Clearly defined goals work as a powerful tool to help maintain and even improve company culture. Review the KPIs on a monthly basis to monitor the overall employee health of your company and adjust them as necessary.

5. Recognize accomplishments

Employee recognition programs and yearly company awards are a great way to recognize specific employee milestones. Recognition from peers and leaders helps employees feel appreciated, keeps them motivated, and encourages them to perform at a high level.

You can host everything from monthly casual meet-and-greet luncheons recognizing recent team wins to a swanky annual dinner banquet honoring all the nominees for multiple awards categories. Certificates of appreciation, plaques, trophies, gift certificates, and free trips are just a few awards you can hand out to honor professional achievements.

6. Promote from within

Internal promotions, rather than always hiring outside of your organization, recognize top performers and identify strengths within your workforce. This goes a long way towards building team morale and creating a positive company culture.

Some employees go above and beyond their initial job description by working on projects outside the original scope of work. Encourage them to build on their strengths and give them the opportunity to grow — they just might turn into your next people-focused leader!

Continued people-first growth

The bottom line to keeping and maintaining happy customers is a company that has a staff with happy employees.

Taking a people-first staffing approach gives your employees the confidence and skills needed to fully contribute to the success of your company. When employees feel like they are valued members of the team, this lets them reach their full potential.


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