A group of workers having a laugh together whilst working.

Putting People First: The Essential Strategy for Success

With the workplace continuing to evolve at a rapid pace, a fundamental question arises: Are companies truly embracing a people-first approach, and what does it really mean?

In today’s tech-driven world, job-specific skills have long been the focus of recruitment and professional development efforts. However, a notable shift is underway, placing increasing emphasis on skills that are inherently human and difficult to automate. Skills such as resilience, creativity, effective communication, and adaptability are coming to the forefront. This is highlighted further by a lot of us having more varied roles compared with a couple of years ago, to cope with a diminishing workforce and tightened budgets.

Organisations are now recognising these invaluable assets in an era where AI simply cannot replicate the essence of human interaction. According to industry experts, this shift towards prioritising human-centric skills is not merely a trend but a necessity for businesses aiming to thrive in the face of ongoing technological advancements. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a huge need for people to get on board with the technology available to us, or risk getting left behind. But, HR professionals in particular, are urged to adapt their hiring processes to recognise the importance of adaptability and emotional intelligence alongside traditional qualifications.

Hendrik Dietrich, head of Custom Summary Service at getAbstract, emphasises the significance of continuous learning in this new paradigm. “As technological advancements accelerate, the need for lifelong learning becomes ever more apparent. Learning in a social context, through peer collaboration and mentorship, is highlighted as a key trend, fostering essential skills such as communication and problem-solving.”

In parallel, the role of managers is transforming, with a renewed focus on personalised development and support. Recognising that managers are the arms of organisations reaching everyone, and the pivotal role they play in driving performance and fostering positive workplace cultures is essential.

There’s also the ‘return-to-office’ trend to deal with, with several major companies such as Boeing and UPS recently calling workers back to the office five days a week. Returning to the office often brings its own challenges with heightened burnout and reduced engagement, leading to people leaving, quiet quitting, or coffee badging. But, like most things in life, there is a flip side, it generally helps foster effective communication, collaboration, and internal talent development.

Dean Carter, Chief People and Purpose Officer at Guild, emphasises the importance of outcome-based performance management over micromanagement. As companies strive for equitable flexibility, trust emerges as a central tenet of the employer-employee relationship, necessitating a shift away from surveillance-based approaches.

In conclusion, the shift towards a people-first workplace is not merely a philosophical ideal but a strategic imperative for businesses navigating the complexities of the modern workforce and we need to help leaders bring this to life and not let it sit in a strategy document. By prioritising human-centric skills, investing in continuous learning and development, and fostering a culture of trust and flexibility, organisations can position themselves for sustained success in an ever-evolving landscape.

Check out our Human Leadership Pulse Check, to ensure you’re on the right lines.