5 ways for businesses to achieve a people-first approach

As the UK continues to navigate through the second wave of the pandemic with the implementation of the government's tiered system, it's fair to say that the year so far has presented many challenges for both businesses and their employees.

5 ways for businesses to achieve a people-first approach

As the UK continues to navigate through the second wave of the pandemic with the implementation of the government’s tiered system, it’s fair to say that the year so far has presented many challenges for both businesses and their employees. 

Not only are more than 40% of employees reported to be working more hours from home, a recent study also found that teams who had failed to adapt to the new circumstances and continued to communicate using pre-lockdown methods, were facing significant difficulties.

Given that an estimated 50% of currently employed people are looking for a new job, and that it can cost businesses 33% of an employee’s salary to hire a replacement if they leave, a people-first approach could really help businesses retain talent and promote loyalty within their teams. To help businesses curate a people-first approach, we’ve outlined 5 practical considerations below. 

Recognise the value of employee happiness

There are many tangible benefits beyond recruitment savings, for businesses who recognise the value of employee happiness. An extensive study into happiness and productivity found that workers are 13% more productive when happy. Particularly in the current climate, while many employees are working remotely and businesses are relying on them to make the most of every customer interaction, be that off or online, encouraging productivity is vital. For this, there is a lot employers can do. For example, simple messages reminding employees to ensure that they take their lunch break, organising things like zoom team quizzes or even tea breaks could really help promote lighter interactions among teams and boost productivity.

Prioritise employee feedback

71% of executives believe employee engagement is critical to their company’s success and while many businesses conduct employee happiness surveys, it’s what a business does with the feedback collated that really counts. 

To keep employees engaged, it logically follows that employees need to see that their contributions and feedback is valued. And prioritising employee feedback doesn’t just help employees feel valued, it can also provide great insights. So, where possible businesses should communicate a summary of the employee feedback collated and any actions or changes to be introduced as a result. 

Market internally

When a business creates their vision and sets the north star for the coming months and years, it’s essential that employees are onboard. In addition to asking for employee input on what some of the company values may be, or what they think the business should hope to achieve in the next 12 months, once decided, it’s important to strategise how your business can actively market these goals to staff internally. Afterall, if employees buy-in to the company’s vision and fully understand their role in it’s delivery, you’re more likely to receive better results while also helping businesses to operate in a more coordinated way, which in turn secures a more consistent experience for customers. 

Utilise multichannel communications

Effective communication in the workplace is of paramount importance and since many people are working remotely, businesses need to change the way that they communicate internally. There has been a new wave of articles along this theme such as Leaders, it’s time to overcommunicate, and with good reason. With internal interactions reduced and financial and health anxieties increased, businesses have a responsibility to provide their staff with consistent, frequent updates. But just as some customers may prefer SMS to email, or social media to direct mail, the same is true of employees. While it would likely complicate things for many businesses to begin segmenting employee communication on the basis of channel preferences, by ensuring multiple channels are used for communications, you can increase the likelihood of employees receiving and reading business messages. 

What’s more, there are obviously types of messages better suited to certain communication channels. For smaller, time sensitive messages, for example a reminder prior to a company wide conference call, SMS can be particularly useful. Not only does it benefit from an open rate of 95%, but 90% of text messages are also read within 3 minutes, so the speed and reach can help support many employee communications.

Champion employee development

In a well respected long-term study, companies which had cultures that encouraged all-around leadership initiatives were considered highly appreciated by their employees and consequently grew revenue by 4 times more, than those who did not. One of the most common reasons interviewees give for wanting to leave their current workplace is lack of growth and development opportunities. 

Understandably, a lot of this was likely put on hold during lockdown and it may be that employees who were due to attend courses and conferences can no longer do so in the way that they had originally planned. But it is important to ensure that these conversations are picked back up and that employees know that this is still a priority for your business. 

Ultimately, a people-first approach will likely look slightly different to every business. Afterall, the people within every business are unique. But for companies that recognise the value of their employees and as a result are willing to invest time and resources into creating a positive and productive work culture, these are the businesses that place themselves in the best position to reap the benefits.

Demi Edmunds
Demi Edmunds

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