A recent survey by Lattice and YouGov found that more than half of employees are burned out at work, and of those burned-out employees, 38% said they don’t believe their employer cares about their wellbeing.
The report also found that burned-out employees were more likely to say they didn’t understand their performance expectations, a conundrum that leads employees toward disengagement and poor performance. Simply put, when employees don’t have what they need to succeed, they’re unable to help the business succeed.
That’s why hiring platform Greenhouse prioritizes a people-first culture, a business strategy that leads to extraordinary results and a central part of the company’s transparent, supportive workplace environment. Sarah Harnett, Greenhouse’s director of People Business Partners, and Seán Delea, global manager of talent acquisition, attest to the power of people-first practices to drive measurable success for any business.
Winning companies understand that employees are their most valuable asset.
Proving the ROI of People-First Business Practices
The first step HR leaders need to take when building a people-first organizational culture is making the case to executives built on data. Start by showing how people-focused practices drive revenue. This begins with the hiring process.
“Talent is critical to the success of the business,” Delea said. “Winning companies understand that employees are their most valuable asset, and they know that having the right workforce increases company profits.” This approach allows companies to hire the right people to drive the greatest possible value.
For Greenhouse, two strategies have been central to building a successful culture.
1. Structured Hiring
Delea defines structured hiring by what the approach strives to avoid: hiring based on gut instinct, team miscommunications, and leaving interviews up to chance. Instead, the goal of structured hiring is to provide a uniform candidate experience across the board, consistent with people-first hiring practices.
Hiring teams make decisions based on data and evidence, identifying ideal candidates according to the business objectives of the role and using a rubric and a deliberate process to assess candidates. This method lets companies build a more fair, thorough, and equitable hiring process.
2. A Culture of Talent Management
Fostering a culture of talent management, Delea said, has been a “game-changer” for incorporating a people-first mindset into the hiring process at Greenhouse.
Talent management means hiring isn’t just the responsibility of a company’s talent acquisition team. Rather, it’s an organization-wide commitment “driven by leaders who see talent as a strategic advantage to their business,” said Delea.
Greenhouse general manager of EMEA, Colm O'Cuinneain, played a key role in nurturing candidates for hard-to-fill positions at the company. His efforts dramatically reduced the time to hire an account executive, which Delea cited as a prime example of people-first hiring: “It’s connecting the dots between hiring the right person and then the business value that person adds.”
Using a Slowdown as an Advantage
When the market dips, hiring slows too — but this doesn’t have to be entirely negative. During a hiring slowdown, recruiters should turn their attention to strategic activities that might slip through the cracks in times of high-volume hiring. Delea said that a slow season offers recruiters a chance to focus on what’s important — not just what’s urgent.
When hiring slows, the Greenhouse team focuses on standardizing its interview kits, an effort that will support people-first priorities by leading to greater consistency and less bias in hiring.
During a slowdown, prioritize strategic recruiting projects that have been on the back burner. That will help your organization be better suited to meet challenges when recruitment picks up again.
The heart of a people-first business is creating spaces where everyone belongs and...business decisions consider every employee's experience.
Investing in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB)
The heart of a people-first business is creating spaces where everyone belongs and ensuring that business decisions consider every employee's experience. But these outcomes are only possible with a commitment to DEIB.
When prioritizing diversity efforts, Harnett says that the starting point is investing in a team dedicated to DEIB. At Greenhouse, this team helps foster a culture of belonging and employee feedback.
They implement the people-first practice of giving individuals of underrepresented identities a chance to share their stories and educate the rest of the organization during town halls. The company offers other DEIB initiatives like fertility benefits to support families and a global passport program to help employees work abroad for six weeks a year.
These efforts build an inclusive culture for employees. But they also benefit the business in measurable ways. DEIB broadens the talent pool and sparks more creative and innovative thinking, Harnett explained. It also helps employees feel safer and more comfortable sharing their whole selves.
Ultimately, these initiatives must be more than a nice-to-have, as embedding DEIB across all people strategies is crucial for driving real business outcomes with employees who know they’ll be respected and included at work. “While it’s the right thing to do,” Harnett said, “it also makes commercial business sense to prioritize DEIB in your people-first practices.”
This article features ideas from How Do You Achieve and Measure Success as a ‘People-first’ Business? the seventh installment of our webinar series, For the Love of People. Visit our library of on-demand webinars for more.