What it means to be ‘people-centric’ and how to establish it

Claiming to be a ‘people-centric’ organisation certainly rakes in the brownie points amongst talent, in industry and amongst consumers, and even within the HR community. It’s why so many organisation’s and HR leaders position themselves ‘people-centric’. Unfortunately, though, many of these organisation’s are not actively people-centric and sadly, don’t even know what it means to be people-centric. 

To be people-centric is to put your people at the heart of everything you do, always. It’s putting the ‘human’ back into Human Resources.

This approach calls for a pretty big mindset shift amongst HR teams and management, and in some cases even requires a change in processes and procedures, typically when it comes to decision-making. To be people-centric takes commitment, which is often why it falls flat. But with the right tools and leadership holding the organisation accountable and helping to consistently and relentlessly prioritise people, it’s achievable and the results it yields are extraordinary. 

An organisation that truly puts their people at the heart of everything they do is an organisation that’ll flourish from the inside out. It’s all good and well claiming you’re a people-centric organisation, but if it’s not happening on the inside results won’t reflect on the outside. When we speak of results, we speak of reputational benefits: attracting greater talent and eliciting customer loyalty through enhanced brand reputation, as well as spinoff benefits (which matter most): creating high-performance teams, enhancing productivity, reducing staff turnover and absenteeism, generating greater revenue, and becoming industry leaders. 

Focus on how your people feel and why

To be people-centric is to be concerned with how your people feel and why at every key touchpoint of the employee journey from onboarding to exit. It’s also about hearing the feelings and needs of your people before making decisions and implementing change, and hearing from them again once decisions and changes have been made and implemented. This is best done through employee engagement surveys that focus on employee emotion. This way you’ll not only receive people-centric data necessary to make decisions and manage change, but understand your people’s emotional journey.

Create a culture of people-centricity

If you and your organisation want to be people-centric and reap the rewards it yields, everyone from the top to the bottom needs to know and understand what this means, and commit to supporting and participating in such an approach. Every process, every decision, every business function should be lead by the people. Employees need to know that they are the organisation. They need to know that their voice is not only valued, but necessary. To emphasise the importance of the employee voice and to become a fully-fledged, people-centric organisation you first and foremost need to establish communication channels that employees can use and feel confident in

Improve diversity and inclusion

Putting your people at the heart of everything you do goes beyond empowering and valuing their voice, it’s also about creating a working environment that helps your people to thrive. To create such an environment, diversity and inclusion needs to be front and centre. Your people will only thrive if they feel included, represented, valued and supported. Plus, an environment that lacks diversity and inclusion is an environment that lacks varying skillsets, perspectives, ideas and creativity. In fact research confirms that 75% of senior execs would leave their company for one that values diversity.

Encourage purpose-driven work

Meeting financial goals and objectives is important, especially to leaders and management, but it’s not everything to employees. Employees are not typically driven by financial outcomes, they’re driven by purpose. Employees want to work with meaning and intention which is why it’s so important for leaders to create purpose-driven goals and encourage purpose-driven work for employees to want to excel. To be people-centric is to think about how your people want to work and what inspires and motivates them to do the work. It takes leaders and management to separate their drivers from that of their people. 

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