poeple first company culture

How To Build A People First Culture

Whenever there is a difficult situation, things tend to adapt themselves by changing fast. Something similar has happened in the organizations over the past two years because of the difficult situation we were in. There was a pandemic and it changed everything from work expectations, to what it means to have a good culture in an organization. HR departments were talking about people-first company culture even before the pandemic but now the discussion seems more urgent.

Work-from-home culture gave existing employees a new way of working that is flexible and aligns more with what they want. At the same time, we are seeing a new generation of the workforce whose expectations are different from the previous generation. These massive changes have forced organizations to rethink their culture and adapt to the new way of running an organization.

In this article, we are going to discuss how people-first culture that provides a plausible solution to this culture shift. We will also give actionable tips for you to start adopting a people-first culture and save your organization from “The Great Resignation”.

What Does It Mean to Have a People First Culture?

As the name suggests, a people-first culture refers to a culture that prioritizes people over profits. Adopting this philosophy leads to a culture where employees feel satisfied and they work better. As they work better, the organization thrives and earns profits over time. How paradoxical it may sound, but that’s what people-first culture is.

Most organizations are successful in building a people-first culture when they are small. As there are fewer people, everyone is helping each other out and it’s easy to see the effects of the efforts they are putting in. As the organization grows, it becomes hard to build such a culture as there are a lot of people and some organizations even get greedy for profits. It becomes a major reason for their toxic work culture. Toxic work culture starts to affect the employees and ultimately their profits.

Why People First Culture?

Increase Employee Retention

4.25 million people quit their jobs in January 2022 which is almost 1 million more than the previous year.

This clearly shows that employee retention is a big problem for the HR department of any organization nowadays. Earlier people had a lack of choices but the pandemic gave everyone a chance to rethink and explore. Due to all the choices and changing expectations, the number of employees leaving the job is on the rise.

Building a people-first culture helps in solving the employee retention problem by focusing more on the needs of employees. As you solve the problems that employees face, their chances of staying betters up. It also sends out a positive message to the whole workforce that you’re making your organization a better place to work.

Increase Employee Productivity

In research conducted by TAB, 86% of employees said that company culture directly affects their productivity.

Being a people first company is a step toward better employee productivity. It focuses on collaboration and recognition which improves employee engagement. Engaged employees treat the work as their own, rather than just a checklist to complete. This happens because they get more enthusiastic about their work as they are not just working but constantly helping each other out.

This builds a culture that is not only productive for you but also makes you feel a part of the company.

Employee Feel Like They Belong

People’s first culture has “people” in its name for a reason. It focuses on people and their growth which leads to the growth of the company. If you are invested in your employees’ growth, they will be invested in your growth. It must be a part of your people and culture strategy.

They will feel like they belong to the organization and will be motivated to work. It reduces the rate of turnover by 50% and makes them less stressed which leads to better behavior towards customers and fellow employees. It also builds a positive work culture for everyone to grow and thrive in.

Employees Will Take Care Of Customers Better 

The best part of a people-first culture is that the employees are excited to work. As they are excited to work, they give their best and treat the customers better. We have all heard that “the customer is the king” but only a happy employee will treat the customer like a king. When employees treat customers better, you get good business in return that ultimately drives profit.

Creating a People-First Culture

Listening And Communicating Well

You can’t expect to build a people-first culture without listening to the people first. Over 1/3rd of the employees think that their companies don’t listen to them. No employee likes to work in an environment where they are not heard because the complaints keep piling up.

By listening to your employees, you not only make them feel important but you also get to gather data about what they want. To better grow your organization, people, and culture, the data becomes invaluable. This data can be used to make the required changes in the culture that comes with the growth of an organization.

Better Feedback Systems

A feedback system is necessary to build a people-first culture. To be focused on the people, you have to build systems that constantly understand their problems. 

It is different from just listening to employees. A feedback system makes sure that everyone gets equal representation in the company for diverse opinions. It also shows that you keep employee feedback into account when making a big decision which makes them a part of overall decision-making.

Culture Of Recognition

57% of young employees say they want to make a difference or do something enjoyable as a job. It’s in clear contrast with the earlier generation where 64% put making money as a priority.

This shows that people-first culture is not about money, it’s about employees trying to make an impact. By recognizing employees’ roles in the company and telling them how important they are, they can understand the difference they are making. As they will understand the responsibility and importance of their role, they will perform better and enjoy their role as well.

You can see how one of our clients Kutuki used EngagedWith to build a people-first culture via employee recognition.

Align With Company’s Values

A company’s culture is based on a company’s values. These values define how the employees are supposed to handle any situation. It also creates an environment where employees collaborate without any problems.

A company’s values build a common vision for everyone. When employees are clear about their company’s values, they feel like they are contributing and they understand the right ways to contribute. It’s important for an employee to contribute otherwise, they feel like just another part of the machine.

You can see how aligning company values with recognition culture helped Polygon and its employees build a people-first culture

Make It Accessible To Employees

All the efforts you are trying to build a people culture are useless if people are not a part of it. To make them a part of it, you have to make all the tools accessible to the employees. 

It must be easy to reach out to anyone for help. Their feedback must be taken regularly to better the organization. They must be appreciated for the help from peers and showing company values.

One of our clients Whello made it accessible to give recognition and built a people-first culture through EnagageWith.

Employee Wellness

Employee wellness is another important aspect to touch upon while building a people-first culture. You have to take care of employees beyond work because they are people beyond work as well.

Through a great wellness program, you reduce their health risks which are directly correlated to job satisfaction. It also helps in increasing employee morale and productivity. Such programs have been proven to decrease absenteeism, which is a good sign for any company.

Recruitment and retention also become easier. People with families consider wellness programs an important factor when joining a company. With a good wellness program, you are inviting better employees to work who will contribute to your overall culture.

How EngageWith Build People First Culture

EngageWith is an employee engagement app for Slack and Microsoft Teams. It helps in building a people-first culture through its various tools for your employees to stay and succeed with organizations for a longer time.

Build a people first culture right with EngageWith by clicking here

Make your organization a better place to work

With tools like:

  1. Reward and Recognition
  2. Aniversary Awards
  3. Pulse Survey
  4. eNPS
  5. Anonymous Feedback
  6. Manager Feedback Survey

It covers all the bases to keep up with the changing employee culture. By using EnagageWith in your workspace, you make your organization better because you put people first.

Employee recognition helps in keeping them motivated and surveys help in making the organization better in alignment with employees. This creates an environment for every employee to thrive.

Improves Engagement

As your employees feel like they belong and align with the company’s values, it improves employee engagement. People are driven towards a common goal and deliver the best performance.

Improving engagement also improves retention and saves a ton of time and resources wasted on employee turnover.

Improves Performance

When people are recognized for their work by peers and their managers, their performance increases. With EngageWith in your workspace, it becomes super easy to recognize someone’s effort. It also aligns the efforts with the company’s value which makes it even better. It also creates a culture of recognition and helping each other which makes the workplace much more inviting.

Create a culture that keep up with the changing landscape with EngageWith


As our workforce is changing, the expectations that come with a new workforce are changing. People are reconsidering what it means to have a work-life balance. They do not make every decision in life around their jobs. The great resignation is just a push in this direction due to the pandemic. Companies that will keep up with the change will thrive and beat those who won’t so it’s great to understand the pattern and take HR decisions accordingly.

How do you build an employee’s first culture?

Employee first culture or people first culture can be build by:
1. Listening And Communicating Well
2. Recognizing Employees
3. Aligning Company’s Values
4. Employee Wellness

How do you become people first?

Becoming people first is just about keeping people over profits. It is about understanding the fact that better employees will be better to customers, and that will beneficial to the company’s culture and profits in longer run.

How do you create a people’s First HR strategy?

You can build a people’s first strategy by understanding its benefits and then applying some methods. These methods are recognizing employees for their effort, making them feel valued, understanding their problems, solving them and align comapny’s vision and of employees.

Tushar Tayal

Marketing Intern at Springworks || Writing content for B2B SaaS and web3 businesses || A podcast host interested in psychology and philosophy.

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