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What are the benefits of a people-first business approach?

Posted by Shivali Anand

March 3, 2022    |     4-minute read (666 words)

More entrepreneurs are recognizing the advantages of creating people-first ventures that prioritize employee satisfaction in addition to profit. Perhaps in part due to the Great Resignation and the quest to retain talent, the buzz around people-first companies seems to be more than a passing trend and is instead only picking up steam.

What is a people-first business?

The people-first concept is predicated on the belief that employees are more important than profits, because businesses cannot thrive without an engaged workforce.  When employees are valued as individuals and their well-being is prioritized, the approach says, businesses become more innovative and profitable.

This implies that every decision and process in a people-first company is made with people in mind. Business leaders may even put initiatives on hold if doing so is in the better interest of employees. In short, they are committed to making employees feel valued under the assumption it is better for the business in the long term.

The advantages of running a people-first business

People-first enterprises are not only fantastic places to work, but they also tend to show better financial performance and higher levels of employee satisfaction.

Take a look at these three benefits of a people-first culture:

Happy employees translate to happy customers – CEOs of people-first businesses are convinced the benefits of adopting this culture is real. "When your people are happy, your clients are happy–no matter what industry you're in," said First Hospitality Group’s ex-president and CEO Bob Habeeb.

Measurable improvements – According to Choose People founder and CEO Kris Boesch, studies show that culture-driven organizations have 22% higher productivity, 26% fewer errors, 41% lower absenteeism and 30% higher customer satisfaction than other businesses.

HR perks - Employees who are engaged and inspired are twice as likely to suggest a company to friends, and the individuals they refer are almost three times as apt to get recruited and stay on the job.

How can your organization develop a people-first culture?

You can only get better results if you make the "people-first" motto a part of everything you do at work. Here's how to go about it:

Language – Instead of task-oriented language, use the language of compassion in the workplace. 

Check the differences between people-first and traditional profit-first businesses for clarity:

People-first organization Profit-first organization
How are things going for you? How's it going with your project?
What are your opinions on the project so far? Will you complete the job by the due date?
Is there anything I can do to help? What sales have you made lately?
Is this a fair scope and timeframe for the team? How much money will this project bring in?


The aim is to make staff feel appreciated as individuals rather than cogs in a machine, which will only impair performance and could lead to resentment. Make time to check in with employees frequently to ensure they are set up for success and growth.

Compensation  Don't hoard all the profit for personal gain. Consider what part can be shared with employees.

Celebrations – Take pride in your team's accomplishments. Take the time to acknowledge their successes, big or little, on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. Not only should financial achievements be celebrated, but so should personal achievements. Recognizing someone's engagement or marathon finish, for example, shows you care.

Hiring – Consider focusing on how candidates will fit into your team, in addition to evaluating their skills, when interviewing prospects. Hire individuals for who they are as people and teach them the skills for a project.

Work-life balance – Encourage staff to maintain a reasonable work-life balance. Ascertain that they can care for themselves and their loved ones and that they are encouraged to do so. This may include offering flexible schedules or remote schedules and a compressed workweek, for example. 

Create a ripple effect — Finally, encourage employees to put people first in other parts of their lives. This will have a cascading effect of putting others first that extends beyond your immediate circle of influence and organization.

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