Getting the basics right – why a people strategy is important for growing businesses

Business owners often expect staff to buy into their vision and be as excited as they are about their offering to clients. What they often forget about, however, is their offering to the people who work for them! I’ve worked with clients who have a fabulous business with ground-breaking products – and yet there’s no kettle in the staff kitchen.

If you want to grow your business, you need to demonstrate to staff that they’re on the journey with you. In fact, if there are five or more people working in your business, it’s time to be proactive and make sure you have a people strategy in place.

If you’ve made it this far without one, great – but don’t expect that luck to last forever! There is a lot that can go wrong if you don’t have a clear structure, job descriptions, salary benchmarking or policies in place to deal with sick leave or maternity pay. Without the basics, you risk either losing staff or leaving yourself open to problems further down the road.

What is a people strategy?

A people strategy just means that you have a plan to ensure that the people in the business – your staff – have the means to help you achieve your business goals.

A basic people strategy should ensure that:

1. Staff know the purpose of the business and its objectives, and that these aren’t just communicated once, but regularly.

2. There is a clarity on what everyone’s role is with a clear organisational structure so that everyone understands how their work – and the work of other colleagues – contribute to the business goals.

3. Everyone understands the values of the business and the behaviour that demonstrates this.

4. Good performance is recognised, and not just in terms of salary; acknowledging a job well done is a powerful tool to increasing engagement and productivity in staff, and they’ll take more pride in their work.

5. You have key HR procedures and policies in place that not only reassure staff when it comes to things like sick leave and maternity pay, but also help you deal with difficult situations such as grievances and disciplinary action.

6. You care about your staff’s wellbeing. This is an increasingly important element of a good people strategy. People want to feel supported and treated as an individual, so the more you demonstrate this through things like employee assistance programmes and yes, that kettle in the kitchen, the more attractive proposition you’ll be as an employer.

7. You know who will be doing what at each stage of your growth plans. Growing businesses inevitably need new staff. Having a people plan means knowing who you need and when. So many business owners underestimate the number of people that are needed to get work done, so make sure you set realistic expectations and goals.

Nearly all of the above are reliant on good communication with your staff. I cannot overstate the importance of this; so many issues are caused by mis-communication!

Once you have a people plan in place, you can then start to think about initiatives that will attract people into the business and make them want to stay with you. These will vary depending on the nature of your business; but having the basics in place first and foremost will form the strong foundations from which to build your reputation as a great employer.

If you would like help building a people strategy into your business plan, call People Puzzles on 020 3633 6830.


Vic Foster, People Director

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