With Washington State reopening and businesses opening up, one challenge facing many business owners is not only finding good talent but actually retaining it.
While we’ve all heard about “company culture”, the reality of creating a business with a strong culture really hinges on one thing — your people.
That’s why more and more owners and business leaders are looking for opportunities to move towards becoming a people-oriented company.
Many businesses have already figured out what their vision, mission and values are, however, how that translates into day-to-day operations isn’t always clear, especially to the people working there.
So, what does it take to be a people-oriented company?
Let’s take a look at what being a people-oriented company actually means, along with some strategies to help you create a business where people want to not only work, but stick around for the long term.
What is a People-Oriented Company?
A people-oriented company is essentially what it sounds like — employees are considered an integral part of the company’s success, and treated as such.
By focusing on showing your staff they’re appreciated and placing a high value on building relationships, employees are more invested in their jobs and making the business successful.
People who feel valued are generally more effective at their jobs, and also more willing to go over and above when needed.
It’s all about creating an environment where people want to work, and fostering an environment of positivity. By prioritizing the employee experience, you’re creating a culture where people can thrive, which is a win for everyone — you as the employer, your employees and your customers.
Here are five strategies you can adopt to help you ensure you’re operating a people-oriented company, and retaining your best employees.
#1. Lead With Empathy
The ability to put ourselves in other people’s shoes is integral to operating a people-oriented company. Employees want to know that the people leading them can understand their point of view, and are open to listening.
Empathy is a critical aspect of our emotional intelligence as leaders, and if your team can’t rely on you to understand their needs, it can greatly impact their job satisfaction.
While it’s not your role to act as a therapist or best friend, your employees want to see that you care about their personal lives as well as what they do at work. You can embrace building relationships with your team while still keeping professional boundaries.
What empathy looks like in practice will be situational, but some ideas in a people-oriented company might include:
- Be on the lookout for staff who may be overworked and take steps to address it before it becomes a bigger issue and your employee ends up burnt out.
- Show interest in what they tell you. That means remembering big dates or life events they’ve mentioned, the important people in their lives and more.
- Let them know you’re there for them. Having a team that is willing to be open with any issues they’re having means you can provide support when they need it.
#2. Be Willing to Give and Receive Feedback
While it’s nice to hear compliments and praise, your team also needs to hear constructive feedback. If your goal is to retain your top talent, then ongoing coaching needs to be a regular part of your routine.
Only hearing from the boss when something “bad” has happened or a mistake has been made can be incredibly disheartening. If they perceive that all the talks you have with them are negative, they’ll begin to see work in a negative light.
Instead of focusing on the problems, focus on the solutions. If there’s something they struggle with, talk with them about how you can work together to improve the situation.
On the flip side, as the leader, it’s imperative you’re open to hearing what your employees have to say. That means keeping an open mind and practicing your active listening. You want to listen not to overcome objections or defend your stance, but to actually hear their concerns.
A people-oriented company is all about everyone working together towards the common goal, and if your team doesn’t feel like they can speak freely to you, they likely won’t stick around for very long.
#3. Show Employees You Value Them
Showing your employees you value them isn’t about big, sweeping gestures. It’s the simple things, like remembering their birthday, or their favorite coffee order, or giving them a high five at the end of the day. You need to tell your employees you appreciate their hard work.
It’s important to remember that words don’t mean a whole lot without actions to back them up. So even if you tell them you appreciate them, consider how you show it. Are they working long stretches of time without a day off? Were they easily able to take a day off to deal with a family matter? Were they able to leave early to go watch their child at the school talent show last week?
Value can also come through the benefits you offer your employees. With the job market so competitive right now, these are considered by many to be a necessity, not a luxury — especially when attracting the best talent. Even for companies that don’t have the resources to offer a comprehensive benefits package, there are many other perks you can include that show you value their work.
While some people may equate being valued with a higher paycheck, at a people-oriented company, value is about far more than the compensation. It’s your employees knowing that they’re an important part of the business and that you want them to be happy.
#4. Invest in the Success of Your Employees
If employee retention is something you’re concerned about, investing in your employees both over the short term and long term is one way to make sticking around more appealing.
Investing in their success can be as simple as providing robust onboarding and training so that they’re set up to excel in their role. Over time, offering opportunities to tune up their skills and do additional learning related to their job shows employees you want them to be successful.
In a people-oriented company, having the appropriate tools and resources to effectively do the jobs assigned is a must. You want your employees to feel confident they’re equipped to handle anything, and having the right tools can go a long way towards them having the ability to do so.
While some employees may be happy with their current role, others will be actively seeking opportunities to further their career. Consider what that may look like at your business:
- Are the jobs you hire for the first stop on a career path or would potential employees consider them to be a dead-end with no room for growth?
- Do you offer a mentorship program?
- Do you provide leadership training?
- Are there any additional learning opportunities to hone specific skills that will be needed in future positions they hold?
The success of your employees impacts the success of your business. So by finding different ways for them to be more successful with your company, you’re providing them incentive to stay for the long term.
#5. Promote Work-Life Balance
Sometimes businesses will say they want their employees to have work-life balance, but ensuring this happens isn’t a passive activity.
How this can be done will depend on your industry and type of business, but there are a multitude of ways you can ensure it isn’t just lip service. Employees need to see that their leaders embrace this philosophy.
In a people-oriented company, work-life balance can be promoted by:
- Asking your team what they need.
- Offering scheduling flexibility.
- Ensuring everyone takes regular breaks while working and days off.
- Reviewing capacity regularly to ensure no one person is overloaded.
- Providing employees time off to volunteer in the community.
- Adding perks — like a paid gym membership — for something they do outside of company time.
When considering how to help your team achieve better work-life balance, don’t forget to account for the fact that everyone is different. The people on your staff are individuals and each have their own needs, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Some things will need to be handled on a case-by-case basis, and that’s totally okay.
A People-Oriented Company Needs Strong Leadership
As you can see, there are many ways to work towards operating a people- oriented company. But as you work on shifting your workplace culture, there’s one thing that’s absolutely critical: leading by example.
As the owner, boss, or leader of the business, your employees look to you to set the tone. If the behavior, words and actions of their leaders are contrary to the values of a people-oriented workplace, it impacts their ability to trust you.
Fostering a positive work environment will help ensure that you’re not only attracting great talent, but also keeping it. By treating your employees as the valuable resources they are, you can create a people-oriented company everyone will be proud to work at.
Need to Update Your Hiring Strategies? We Can Help.
The Green River College Small Business Center is here to help business owners with resources and support for updating their approach to recruitment, staff development and retention of employees.
We assist small businesses by offering no cost, one-on one, individual counseling services in the following areas:
- Recruitment and retention
- Business Assessment
- Business Financial Analysis and Planning
- Business Funding and Expansion
- Business Start-Up and Management
- Buying or Selling a Business
- Referral Services
Set up a free consultation appointment right here.