Putting people first at a company, what I call being People-Centric, promotes the sharing of ideas, suggestions and improvements. People are at the core of every organization, and an organization’s employees – its people – are the most important investment it will make. Even as technology advances and capital shifts, it is the leadership and personal contributions of the individual employees who comprise an organization’s workforce that ultimately set it apart from competitors.
Companies that reap the benefits of an engaged workforce understand that people are their greatest asset. Great workplaces foster an environment of communication, fairness, respect, and trust - while creating opportunities for people to grow as employees, and as individuals. A work environment in which people feel valued, heard and a sense of camaraderie is critical to employee engagement.
Here are 5 ways to create a people centric culture:
1. Communication is the key to empowerment.
Give every employee equal and direct access to information. Many companies have developed a trickle-down style of communication that alienates those employees who may not be "in the loop." The more informed employees are and the more communication is open, honest, direct and complete, the more likely employees are to feel empowered and connected to the daily operations and overall goals of their company.
2. Allow employees to suggest better ways of getting their jobs done.
Ask for employee suggestions for other ways of getting the task or project accomplished. Listen and be willing to really hear the employees' comments. Employees hate to have no input and be told exactly how to perform their jobs, leaving no creativity.
3. Show you have trust in your employees.
Allow them to make mistakes as a form of learning. Show that it is really OK to make mistakes. Trust that people have the right intentions and will make the right decisions, even if they are different than your own. Let them know you really support their decisions.
4. Encourage and reward improvement and innovation.
Employees may be afraid to offer insight and new ways of doing things because the company culture doesn't support them. If you really want to empower employees, you'll need to create a company culture that encourages and rewards innovation. You may start by asking individuals to look for ways to improve efficiency, output, safety, etc. in the tasks they perform every day.
5. Create a learning environment.
Learning is the key to success—some would even say survival—in today’s organizations. Knowledge should be continuously enriched through both internal and external learning. Developing your people shows respect for them. Building explicit (book) and tacit (hands on) knowledge and distributing it is equally important.
Asking people to improve their work and giving them the tools to do it (e.g. Kaizen) shows the ultimate form of respect in my opinion. In other words management is saying that we trust and expect that you will take a hand in making things better in order to ensure our survival. The implied message is one of mutual trust and respect.