Why People-First HR Strategies are the Future

Culture

June 17, 2022

Abby Parker

X min

5 min

People should feel valued, recognized, and motivated to take initiative in what they do best. Many organizations are realizing that today’s job searchers are no longer settling for anything less. Companies need dedicated, creative, and people-focused solutions to keep up with a transforming workforce.

Why People-First HR Strategies are the Future
No items found.

Table of Contents

Why People-First HR Strategies are the Future

The Great Resignation is still hanging over our heads, and many economists predict a recession.  

More than 24 million Americans left their jobs between April and September 2021. Even before this period, people leaving toxic work environments cost U.S. employers $50 billion per year.  

Toxic corporate culture is 10 times more important in predicting employee turnover than compensation, yet many organizations don’t have strategies to purposefully improve culture. Even worse, the topic of culture is often ignored or considered “out of management’s hands.”

While some employers wait for culture to form organically, their employees are left to fulfill unclear expectations without feedback or support.  

People should never feel stuck in an exhaustive cycle with no affirmation that they are headed in the right direction. They should feel valued, recognized, and motivated to take initiative in what they do best. Many organizations are realizing that today’s job searchers are no longer settling for anything less.

Companies need dedicated, creative, and people-focused solutions to keep up with a transforming workforce.  

Defining culture

Positive intentions produce positive results

Your company’s culture is shaped by shared experiences and expectations. It influences the way people think, feel, and behave in the workplace. If created with the right intentions, culture can provide a sense of identity, and increase employee commitment to your organization’s values.  

Culture impacts your company’s performance and efficiency, knowledge management, corporate social responsibility, and innovativeness.  

A culture built by design, not by default, is critical. And while everyone shares the responsibility of keeping it healthy, more and more companies are leaning on HR professionals.

Focused People and Culture strategies are becoming more popular, because they authentically strengthen the relationship between organizations and the people who work tirelessly to keep them running.  

“We’re really focused on treating our own employees as if they are customers of the People and Culture team. We want them to have a good experience with our company.” – Carter Bergen, People Advisor at Kudos.

What makes a culture toxic?

Why HR strategies need to transform

MIT Sloan Management Review identifies five attributes of a toxic company culture: disrespectful, noninclusive, unethical, cutthroat, and abusive.  

Disrespectful

Being consistently disrespected at work is soul-crushing.  

When someone’s self-worth is repeatedly attacked, they lose confidence in their skills. They feel increasingly out of place and decide they don’t belong – before their employer decides for them.  

According to the research highlight, a lack of respect in the workplace was “the single strongest predictor of how employees as a whole rated the corporate culture.”

Noninclusive

Too often, employee voice is discussed in universal terms. Lumping everyone together denies important diversities, and further silences marginalized voices.

30% of the most powerful predictors of a toxic culture relate to how well an organization encourages diversity and meaningful inclusion.

Organizations that fail to address the specific barriers their employees face based on race, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or age create a toxic climate of silence.  

“Climates of silence exist when powerful systemic forces create organizational silence — widely shared perceptions that speaking up is not worth the effort or is downright dangerous.” – Voice, silence, and diversity in 21century organizations

Unethical

A company that sweeps dishonesty under the rug encourages the same behaviour from their employees. On the other hand, a company with clear moral and ethical standards encourages a culture of accountability and trust.

Cutthroat  

In a cutthroat environment, recognition is achieved by sabotaging others – not uplifting them. Unhealthy amounts of competition create unstable corporate cultures and diminish everyone’s sense of belonging.  

Abusive

An organization’s culture is led by example. If leadership is hostile, demeaning, and abusive to their staff – they can’t expect company culture to be any better.  

The most frequently mentioned hostile behaviors in our sample are bullying, yelling, or shouting at employees, belittling or demeaning subordinates, verbally abusing people, and condescending or talking down to employees.” - MIT Sloan Management Review, Why Every Leader Needs to Worry About Toxic Culture

Generally, toxic cultures prioritize corporate-performance results at the expense of people. Traditional policy-focused HR strategies support these priorities.  

People focused strategies achieve the same performance results as traditional HR strategies, if not better, by prioritizing well-being.  

“Traditionally, HR is there to protect the company. Although that’s still true for a People and Culture team, I think our focus is more on enabling the organization to be the best they can be – through the power of people.” – Carter Bergen, People Advisor at Kudos

What makes a culture healthy?

The Power of People: Why dedicated culture strategies are on the rise

Obviously, people-focused strategies are still strategies by nature. It’s how you communicate the strategy that makes a positive difference in culture.  

People and Culture teams value happiness and transparency. Simply, treating people like people promotes open lines of communication; this is how you reach the heart of the problems people struggle with in the office: stress, burnout, excessive performance standards, work-life imbalance, and so on.  

“Transparency helps people feel genuinely connected to the company. I think it also encourages people to feel like they have a stake — they can leave their DNA and their fingerprints by making suggestions.” – Carter Bergen, People Advisor at Kudos

People want to feel fulfilled by their work; like they have a purpose. They don’t want to show up purely out of obligation.  

A People and Culture team that truly cares for their employees, values transparent communication, and supports their employees instead of testing them will do wonders for retention and engagement. While this is true, everyone in the company needs to understand and align with the People and Culture teams’ mission — or else there will be friction.  

Specifically, leadership needs to be on board with building more sustainable working environments. People-focused strategies encourage more earnest, intentional, and positive company-wide relationships. Strong foundational relationships like these are extremely valuable to your organization in the long term. A company’s culture can only take shape from there.  

Creating a healthy culture is “a heavy lift. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely worth it. And you’ll see that in the results.” – Carter Bergen, People Advisor with Kudos, recently recognized as a Best Place to Work by HRD Canada.

HR teams are evolving even beyond title changes, and so are the tools and technologies that support their growth. Recognition platforms like Kudos support the future of HR by empowering everyone within the organization through peer-to-peer recognition.

Simple and sincere recognition plays a pivotal role in your plan to create a healthier culture. Change is hard, but change is good – especially when it comes to your most valuable asset.

About Kudos

Kudos is an employee engagement, culture, and analytics platform, that harnesses the power of peer-to-peer recognition, values reinforcement, and open communication to help organizations boost employee engagement, reduce turnover, improve culture, and drive productivity and performance. Kudos uses unique proprietary methodologies to deliver essential people analytics on culture, performance, equity, and inclusion, providing organizations with deep insights and a clear understanding of their workforce.

Talk to Sales

Ebook

Employee Recognition Buyer’s Guide

Your Step-By-Step Companion to Choosing a Recognition Platform

Get Your Guide