Today, there is more importance being given to the overall wellbeing of employees in organisations - big & small. Organisations which boast of healthy workspaces are looked up to by their communities & are huge magnets for individuals searching for employment. What sets them apart from their competitors? People-first workspaces.
What is a People-First Workspace?
People-first workspaces not only look at overall company output but focus a lot of their resources on the wellbeing of their employees. They make their employees feel important, like their work is important to the company, & is being noticed. These individuals are able to have a healthy work-life balance & have a lot of opportunities to grow within the company itself. Big companies like Puma, Marriott International, GE Healthcare & Myntra-Jabong boast of their people-first work cultures, & have seen high rewards in doing so.
Why is it Important to Be People-First?
Organisations that not only talk the talk but walk the talk are well-spoken about by the masses. Being people-first helps the organisations that actually implement them in more ways than just one, & are hence, an excellent idea if you want real positive change within the walls of your company & outside.
1. Life satisfaction > Job satisfaction
Being a people-first organisation, as mentioned above implies that you focus on the wellbeing of your employees, no matter their designation. Giving them support in all aspects of their lives (not just financial), enhances their jobs & improves their lives on a whole. At the end of the day, being satisfied in life & being satisfied at your job are very distinct, & the former does have a wider reach, benefitting the individual in multiple ways, making for more content employees.
2. Increase in company output
Remember the saying “choose a job you love & you’ll never work a day in your life”? That comes into play here. When companies actually take into consideration the needs & wants of their employees & do things to benefit their wellbeing, employees tend to build their loyalty towards the company & go the extra mile to ensure quality output. With many organisations opting for WFH as opposed to mandating a return into office, employees spend more hours in a day working & being productive. This ultimately increases the company’s total output, which is great.
3. Employees should feel important
When employees don’t feel prioritised & looked after, they tend to work only for the sake of completing work & getting paid. There is no extra effort that’s put in because they only feel like another cog in the wheel - like they don’t matter. Making small changes within an organisation towards creating people-first work cultures create big strides in employee morale & willingness to work & work well! They should feel like what they do matters & is of consequence.
4. To build a human connection
The word ‘people’ in people-first organisations speak volumes on what the focus should be on. Building human connections & team spirit within organisations is a sure way to be more profitable in the long-run. One way that companies can work on this is through services like CSR (corporate social responsibility). When the company’s public image is seen as more than just profit-making, they seem more ‘human’, which people tend to gravitate toward. Having interactions between employees of different levels is another way to do this. Marriot International, a globally known company gained huge popularity through its commitment to its employees, especially when they started their “holistic employee wellness program” amongst others.
5. Employees are your first customers
When individuals are happy at work, they tend to talk more about it in a positive manner. Word-of-mouth is huge when it comes to a brand’s public image, & there’s nobody better at hyping a company up than an employee who lives & breathes the company, its products & content. Creating a workspace that employees thrive in & love working in should be a focal goal of organisations that truly want to succeed.
How Can Your Company Focus on People-First Cultures?
There are multiple ways through which companies can make this shift towards being more employee-centric. Some of them are :
1. Provide more than just a decent salary
Sure, paying your employees a good salary for the work they do is great, but there is so much more you could do as an employing organisation to show them you care. Having good health plans, insurance, investment strategies & giving them opportunities to approach mental health specialists are all added bonuses which boost loyalty amongst employees & reduce annual turnover. With every passing generation, more individuals are on the lookout for the best deal they can get over & above a good pay grade, so offer more to get more in return.
2. Employee perspectives matter
At the end of the day, employees just want to be heard. It would benefit any organisation to listen to different perspectives from different parts of the organisation, & not just from the higher-ups. Providing employees a platform to be vocal about what they think regarding changes & ideas is a great step towards creating a people-first work culture. It also allows everyone to be proactive & work toward solutions, especially if they know their idea could potentially help the business in some way. & who knows - your next big idea could come from your new intern!
3. Encourage feedback
Feedback is one of the most important assets to the growth of any organisation. Just like customer reviews which allow organisations to see how their products are actually working, collecting feedback from employees within a company is crucial. Feedback should work within all structures i.e. it’s not only your average employee that gets insight on his work, but the top level employees as well. Positive feedback is a pat on your shoulder about a job well done, & negative feedback should only be looked at as something to be worked on (constructive criticism). Encouraging people to speak out about issues, however, will only work if the content is taken seriously & worked on. So make sure that there’s a solution to everything being said.
4. Employees are the community
The fact of the matter is that a business organisation only exists because of the people who work in it. Employees are the backbone to any good business, which is why they need to be prioritised. With COVID-19 wreaking havoc worldwide, most businesses have gone virtual, limiting social interaction & creating issues of distance between employees. Hence, it’s imperative to bring the workforce together, even virtually, to help them interact & become comfortable with each other. Coworking spaces are a great alternative to creating a sense of community, as they become safe workspaces for employees to physically meet & work together in a semi-professional setting without setting foot in their offices - they also tremendously increase employee engagement, which is a huge bonus.
5. Ask them what they need
The best way to know what employees need in order to feel like they are in a people-first organisation is to simply ask them what they need! This doesn’t mean you need to give them everything they ask for (let’s be real!), but fulfilling some of their requests does make them feel heard. This in turn does boost positivity amongst the workforce & reflects well on the company which becomes known for being proactive.
Take Stock, Reflect & Take Action
Now that you’ve gained some clarity on what a people-first culture is & how to go about it, it’s important that you genuinely look at the workings of your organisation, & think of ways to make it better. Take a poll or have a few conversations - if you’re open to the idea of change, so will your employees. In the end, everybody wins!