85% of employees are actively disengaged at work, costing U.S organizations $450-$550 Bn in lost productivity every year, finds a Gallup Study.
While a disengaged workforce remains a constant struggle for organizations, with changing times it has been observed that cross-generational workforce is contributing to setting greater workplace expectations. A big part of changing expectations is building a people-focused culture. Today’s people-focused culture goes way deeper than having a fun at work Friday or 24*7 lavish open cafeterias. A people-focused culture is closer to a value-driven culture that strives to fulfill individual passion, purpose and brings together each and every employee fostering inclusivity and enabling success and growth. Values like collaboration, creativity, transparency, flexibility, and freedom drive a people-focused culture.
Investing in creating a people-focused culture helps companies build an engaged workforce. It is no surprise that engaged employees have an 18 percent higher customer retention rate, improved productivity by 20-25 percent and bring in 26 percent annual increase in revenue.
Perks of a people-focused culture:
- Higher employee engagement
- Increased loyalty
- Positive and meaningful workplace relationships
- Productive work environment
Building a sense of ownership
Often during conversations with friends, family as well as within professional networks, people refer to the company they are working for as “My Company”. This reference of “my” comes from a sense of belonging, but not yet from a sense of ownership. With this sense of belonging, however, the job is half done.
If organizations can go that extra mile for their people, they can bridge the gap between feeling connected and feeling accountable, thus, empowering employees to feel as responsible and accountable as they feel connected.
Similar to how emotional connect helps drive brand affiliation and loyalty for a longer period of time, a sense of ownership helps drive initiative among employees.
It is a well-known fact among leaders that the future of work demands building human machine partnerships, with ‘human’ skills being relied upon heavily. With technology being the driving force behind all current and foreseeable changes, organizations need to put their people at the center of these changes. The reason is simple. You can build technology to simplify processes and save time, however, the ones implementing these technologies and treading through the changes it brings with itself, are your people. If your people are not aligned to the purpose, then no matter how advanced the technology is, you will fail in the execution. And before aligning people with technology, it is crucial to align your strategies with people, with their learning, growth, and future at the center of it all.
In an endeavor to build a people-focused culture, you need to personalize the employee experience by providing the right mix of culture, work, and technology. What technology will mean for your business to thrive, is the same as what culture would mean to your employees. Understand what motivates each employee across demographics, be flexible, and adaptable. Today, employees across career stages strive for fulfillment, beyond working entirely for monetary rewards. They recognize a sense of purpose to be accomplished, they identify a lot more with value than merely with the delivery of tasks and assignments.
Aligning what motivates an employee with the responsibilities assigned to them has the power to create a ripple effect in the value they deliver in their work and to your customers.
How to create a people-focused culture?
It’s simple. You respect and care about your employees and invest in their growth, empowering them. At a time when every organization is looking to bring in the best technology (often being used by their competitors as well), the single differential advantage you have is your PEOPLE.
To ensure you don’t lose out on your high-performing talent, you need to ensure you are creating a workplace that people want to be a part of.
There needs to be a lot more than only meeting targets and providing competitive compensation, there needs to be a value system in place. Some of the ways to create a people-focused culture are:
Treat employees as partners
No matter how ‘big’ or ‘small’ an employees’ role is, every contribution matters. Whether you choose to do it through monthly meetings or regular one-on-ones, it is important to acknowledge the feedback/suggestion shared by employees, make them feel heard and valued. Even if every suggestion cannot be implemented, let them know what was the gap so they can rethink and come up with a better solution next time.
Continuous investment in learning and development
You need to ensure you are setting up your employees for success by providing them the right guidance and learning opportunities to excel in their work. To ensure your employees are focused on delivering value to customers, you need to ensure they can trust you enough to provide them with the right platform and opportunity to add value to their work as well as a boost to their career.
Acknowledging personal lives and goals
Employees today juggle between multiple roles and responsibilities both at work and at home. It is important to be cognizant as well as mindful of the fact that employees have a role to play outside work as well. If you are expecting employees to be absolutely focused at work and additionally take up work on holidays, you need to also be understanding when employees are in need for some time off to attend to their personal and family responsibilities. One way to do this is by ensuring fair policies such as flexible working hours, paid parental leave, daycare facilities, and restricting overtime. In addition to having employee-friendly policies, encourage and help employees to fulfill their personal, professional and financial goals.
Value your people
A people-focused culture isn’t just about improved morale and employee engagement. As a leader, as an organization, you have the power, rather an opportunity to knit individual units/employees, together as people and motivate them to apply their best to the task at hand. They already feel connected, all they need now is to feel acknowledged, valued and empowered.
Let employees know how their contribution made a difference, made an impact, make them feel like family, equip them with the required knowledge to succeed in all their endeavours, speak to your people in a language that they can relate with and your work is done.
Let’s take inspiration from one of the greatest leaders of our time, Former President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, through a compilation of some of his most heartwarming speeches. During his tenure as the President, the kind of connect he was able to establish not just with the people of the United States, but all across the globe is something to learn from. Through every word he spoke, he brought the country together as one, uniting them as one, despite individual differences in faith, religion, beliefs, backgrounds and preferences, and not just in times of victory, but also during times of adversity, when people sought some words of comfort after having gone through a traumatic personal loss.
Video Credits: Created by CNN