Is there a better feeling than when someone puts you first, above anything else that’s happening at that moment? Like when you’re in a competition and someone stops to help you, jeopardizing her own chance to win … when someone silences a room so you can be heard … when someone reaches out with a great big hug of thanks … when your behind-the-scenes efforts are recognized publicly … These moments of being noticed, special, recognized, appreciated—or put simply, cared about, are gifts. They make us happy, and they motivate us to be our best.
It makes sense then, backed by a multitude of studies, that happy employees are more productive. The question is, how do you go about making your employees happy? The answer is: Commit to putting your people first, before anything else. That commitment needs to extend to leadership, culture, and treatment of individual employees in an integrated effort. Employers should understand that daring to care about their employees and putting them above every other aspect of business is essential in finding and keeping top people and in achieving success. Below, you’ll find some helpful ideas about what you can do to create an environment where people know they come first.
People-centered leaders feel empathy, passion, and concern for the wellbeing of their people, building trusting relationships that enable people to perform at their best. These leaders share a number of important attributes that support healthy cultures as well as business success. People who lead with their humanity first empower others to be more authentic, kind, and attuned to feelings.
They connect deeply with their employees by:
You’re not simply building an organization; you’re building a community. It’s not something you put into place in a day. It grows from the hard work of managing people with patience, persistence, and love over time. When your culture is based on shared purpose, targeted and powerful recruitment strategies, inclusivity, and wellbeing; and when people are appreciated, celebrated, and supported as the valuable assets they are, you’ve built Camelot. Every member of your unique Camelot community will feel something special growing around them—something they want to contribute to with their best performance. Following are four areas of focus for the greatest impact on culture:
1. Health and Wellbeing
What to do: Allow people to work where they’re most comfortable and trust that they’ll get the work done. Introduce stress reducing programs. Extend employee sick leave and time off for family care. Connect employees with co-workers who share interests or family situations. Get employee input on when and how they’d like to return to work, and then get feedback on how well it worked.
What to do: Communicate strategically to bring purpose to life across the organization, providing clarity, alignment, and motivation for employees to work toward shared objectives. Communicate purpose to support agile teams in dealing with ambiguity. Incorporate mission and purpose in business agility and change initiatives.
3. Learning, Reflection & Transition
What to do: As a team, be curious and open minded in your observations. Be humble in listening to new ideas and data and willing to constantly innovate. Share and compare what you’ve learned with other teams to maintain a culture of collaboration.
4. Welcoming Environment
What to do: Consider the office furniture. Make it ergonomic and comfortable to prevent repetitive stress disorders and lower back pain or other issues. Create a brainstorming room with comfy seating to encourage creativity and connection. Add some greenery to boost the spirit and add art to blank walls and empty spaces. Break up maze-like small spaces into more open work areas.
A paycheck is not enough on any level. People look for much more from their employers. In order to attract and retain employees today, and because it’s the right thing to do, we should provide employees the same positive experience and consideration we provide customers. There are so many meaningful ways to demonstrate on a very personal level how much we value our people. Copy or invent some that work for your employees and culture and let creativity reign.
Perks, benefits, and appreciation are even more meaningful when aligned closely to your mission, values, and goals. And it’s important to get input from employees on what they’d like.
Break whatever mold you’re in and make it fun and full of love. Here are some of our favorites:
People have choices, so of course, they choose to work where they know they’re valued. People can feel when you’re putting them first. It makes them happy and productive. When you commit to being a human-centric leader who’s building a people-centered community where employees feel highly valued, the market will know. And the talent you need will be there for you.
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