How To Cultivate A Workplace Culture that is Truly, People-First 

Workplace culture is a reflection not only of the company values but, more accurately, the leaders. If you do not make an effort to intentionally design your company culture as you would draft your business strategy, you will end up with the default culture. 

Default company culture is shaped by contagious attitudes, whatever they may be. This default course almost never results in a positive, people-first direction and is more likely to be a never-ending rollercoaster. 

High-pressure or stressful work environments do not increase productivity. Rather they harm it. Team members get overwhelmed, fall ill more frequently, and can find it difficult to focus effectively while at work. 

It’s also a common idea that people don’t leave jobs. They leave managers and bosses. If your company’s churn rate is high, check your culture. Increased turnover has a negative impact on morale as well as finances. 

A people-positive company culture attracts the kind of talent you want on your team. Great people value great company cultures and seek employment and advancement opportunities in those environments. 

But how do you create a people-first culture that attracts and retains great and productive team members? Here are my top tips! 

Intentionally Design Your Company Culture

You can’t cultivate a vague unknown component. Intentionally define what you want your culture to look like. Thoughtfully draft standards you value and a plan to uphold them. 

Talk to your existing team. What do they love in your company? What keeps them awake at night? Get key takeaways from the people who make up your major cultural influences. 

Once you’ve created your standards, create an accountability framework for you, your leadership team, and your workforce. When everyone understands the assignment, it’s important to foster compliance. 

Hire For A Culture Fit, Not Just Talent

Look for people that already embody the culture you’ve designed. If they’re not a fit for the current position, where else can you place them? Invest in people who advance your culture. 

Don’t be blinded by the resume. Of course, you’re looking for top performers. But job skills can be developed, trained, and sharpened. In contrast, personalities are set and often immovable. 

Positivity, kindness, and compassion are just as contagious as negative personality traits and are usually highly undervalued. Recruit people who bring positive enthusiasm for the job as well as for other people. 

Promote Work-Life Balance

A healthy work-life balance creates a healthy employee. A healthy employee performs better, more consistently, and more happily. Balance prevents burnout and, eventually, departure. 

Ask your team what their needs are and work with them as individuals, not just nametags. Stay informed about your employees’ tolerance levels for stress and their overall mental health. If they’re always skipping lunch and staying late, it may be time to reevaluate workloads. 

Offer flexible working schedules and give them the opportunity to adjust days and hours to conduct personal matters if needed. Prove that you value them as humans and recognise that sometimes, life is complicated. 

Don’t forget to set a good example for yourself. If you never take time off or you can’t talk about anything but work, this sets the tone for how everyone else feels they need to behave. Walk the talk! 

Maintain Open Channels of Communication

Just like poor communication, good communication fosters good communication in the workplace and elsewhere. Employees should feel comfortable enough to socialise, speak their opinions, and share about their life. 

Hold regular team coaching meetings for open communication from anyone and everyone. Foster a safe space for tough discussions when needed. The team that talks together inspires more confidence, works together better and more effectively.  

Remember that communication is like a game of catch. You must be skilled at both tossing the ball as well as catching it. Actively listen to your people and their ideas, concerns, and stories, and prove you’re open to growth and change. 

Praise Where Praise Is Due

No one expects you to award medals for meeting basic expectations, but by giving credit where it’s due, you show that you see their contributions and value their time and effort. Well-deserved praise drives people to continue performing and showing up. 

Who are your top performers? Who is your idea generator? Who advances your culture framework? Who is the low-key best at a crucial task? Who prevented something disastrous from happening? 

Give praise publicly and show your appreciation in tangible ways. Awards, bylines, gift cards, and bonuses are all ways to invest in the people who are already making things happen. 

Expect Reasonable Productivity and Performance

Deadlines are real! But they shouldn’t be unreasonable or unattainable. Deadlines should be set as goals, not threats!

Performance expectations should be transparent and dictated by data. Ensure your teams are part of the deadline-setting process. Take their feedback into consideration and trust their recommendations for achievable deadlines. 

Give context to the deadlines you set together, and make sure everyone understands the why of each deadline and potential negative outcomes if they’re not met. 

Advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity

When you welcome and embrace individuals from all backgrounds and walks of life, you create a positive and inclusive environment. Promote inclusive language and form a team to develop diversity initiatives

Don’t ignore unconscious bias and communicate the importance of fostering equity and inclusivity. Work with your hiring staff, leaders, and top culture influencers to continue advancing these principles in every department on every project.

Shake up your teams and compel them to work with a diverse cross-section of skill, talent, and experience. Create a training program or bring in expert consultants to educate your people on cultural differences and workplace interactions. 

Check and enhance existing company policies and facilitate an ongoing loop of feedback on how successful your efforts are. Progress has been made here, but there’s still much work to be done. 

A People-First Culture Grows Your Business and Your Impact

Promoting a people-first culture attracts top talent and inspires loyalty from your people. Create the culture that you want to advance. 

Author: Allison Todd – Coach and Consultant of 20+ years at Allison Todd

Photo credit: Tim Marshall on Unsplash

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