What is a people first culture?

people first

The world of work is changing. Once it was enough to have a job, with a decent salary and benefits. Now people are looking for more. Whether that be flexible or hybrid working, learning development and career opportunities, a better work-life balance, or the chance to do something that will make a difference in the world. A people first culture is one that prioritises the needs of employees and customers above all else. In this article, we will explore what a people first culture is, why it matters, and how companies can cultivate this type of culture.

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So, what exactly is meant by a people first culture?

A people first culture is a company-wide approach that puts the well-being and happiness of people at the centre of its values and operations. This means that the company’s decisions and actions are focused on the needs and desires of its employees, customers, and other stakeholders. In a people first culture, the company values the individuals who make up the organisation. Staff are recognised and appreciated, in order to help them feel more connected and motivated. rather than viewing them as a means to an end.


Why does it matter?

A people-first culture is important for several reasons. First, when employees feel valued and supported, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work. This translates to better performance, increased productivity, and higher employee retention rates. Additionally, customers are more likely to be loyal to a company that treats them well and puts their needs first.

In contrast, a company that prioritises process over people may experience high turnover rates, low employee morale, and negative customer experiences. This can lead to a damaged reputation, decreased revenue, and a lack of trust from both employees and customers.

Corporate employees are more productive than ever—when they have the freedom to unlock their true potential and work when they choose to work and from where they want. Remote working has also shown to improve the company’s profits.



How to cultivate a people first culture

Creating a people-first culture requires a concerted effort from everyone in the organisation. Here are some ways that companies can cultivate this type of culture:

1. Lead by Example

Leaders can model the behaviour they want to see in their employees by prioritising the well-being of their team members and demonstrating that they value them as individuals.

2. Listen and Respond

Companies must create an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, ideas, and concerns. It’s essential to actively listen to feedback and respond to it with actions. Building your coaching capability is an excellent way to achieve this.

3. Provide Support

People first managers provide the necessary resources and support for employees to succeed in their roles. This includes training, mentorship, and tools to do their jobs effectively. A coaching approach is not only a highly sought after leadership skill, but also provides this much needed support for high-performing, collaborative teams.

4. Recognise and Celebrate

Recognise and celebrate the accomplishments of your employees. Celebrate success together, being proud of team efforts as well as individual achievements. This promotes a culture of teamwork. Recognition might be in the form of public recognition, company newsletter mentions, awards or communities of practice.
Consider also ‘celebrating failure’, when you’ve tried to do something differently but didn’t quite make it. There are lessons to be learned and failure shows that you are reaching for beyond the status quo as a team!

5. Protect psychological safety

Transformational leaders hold a shared expectation with members of their team that they will not embarrass or punish anyone for sharing ideas, taking risks, or asking for feedback.
The Enterprise Change Pattern builds the psychological safety needed to create inclusive, self-sustaining change. After all, change is inevitable. Leaders who successfully embed the Enterprise Change Pattern into their organisation’s DNA, promote these people first qualities. Consequently, they gain the advantage of a self-sustaining change program by ensuring that everyone has their voice heard and feels included.

6. Prioritise Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

A people first organisation values diversity, equity, and inclusion. People first companies cultivate a workplace that is welcoming to all employees, regardless of their background or identity. In this culture, each person’s unique perspective, background and thinking style is celebrated, thus avoiding groupthink.


In conclusion, a people first culture is a mindset that puts the well-being and happiness of people at the centre of everything a company does. By prioritising employees and customers, organisations can create a positive work environment, increase engagement and retention, and improve customer experiences. By cultivating a people first culture, companies and leaders can create a more sustainable and successful future for themselves and their stakeholders.

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