Skip to main content

What is a people-oriented culture, and does your company have one?

As more and more companies move to more flexible work models and people are less likely to stay in one job for an extended period of time, companies need to invest in employee engagement and success in new ways to remain competitive.

Here’s how leaders can foster a people-centred culture in any type of business.

What is a people-oriented culture?

In the words of Shannon William Hurn, an Australian rules footballer and captain of the West Coast Eagles, “culture is what you do when people aren’t looking.”

Company culture can be partially defined by the employees’ behaviour when they are not under direct supervision and act on their value-based instincts.

The concept of a more “people-oriented” culture opposes traditional models based on hierarchical systems and productivity.

That traditional model is gone. And so is the idea of repaying an employee’s loyalty with continued permanent employment.

Prominent aspects of this type of organizational culture include:

  • High levels of empathy
  • Recognition and praise
  • A positive work environment
  • The ability to give and receive constructive feedback
  • High levels of employee engagement
  • Employee success is taken seriously
  • Employees feel respected and valued

Authenticity and transparency are also essential to enable communication in the workplace and ensure that everyone, including C-Suite executives, participates.

Creating a company culture involves selecting a series of values that define the company, itself and the products it stands to represent. You must encourage those values in your employees’ everyday behaviours as a leader.

Empathy is Essential

Empathy is putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes to understand and anticipate others’ situations. Many HR leaders already have this skill, whether they know it or not.
For leaders, this is crucial for understanding employees. But empathy is also essential when understanding customer and client needs.

Offer Constructive Feedback

It’s one thing to praise someone and quite another to have regular conversations which help people know where they can improve and what actions are most important to the businesses’ overarching mission and goals.

The older idea of offering yearly performance reviews should be replaced with something more casual and consistent. When employees have regular conversations and feel they can both give and receive criticism, they will understand how to grow and feel more empowered.

Feedback sessions help all parties clarify whether employees are content with their actions and why mistakes are being made.

Foster a Positive Work Environment

Recognition and praise are essential parts of fostering a positive work environment. It’s important to give detailed feedback and be genuinely grateful for the employee’s strengths and accomplishments.

Positivity is an excellent tool for success. On the one hand, it will allow leaders to use the tools mentioned above in the case of a business win. On the other hand, positivity will help a business learn from its mistakes in case of a loss.

This work ethic will inspire employees to do better, experiment more, and feel encouraged to share their ideas with colleagues and superiors. After all, there is no shame in failure, but there is shame in trying to hide it. And a positive work environment will ensure that this will not happen.

Giving thanks is feedback, which tells the employee they’re on the right track. It can also be used as an icebreaker, making it easier to surpass social or emotional barriers. Last but not least, giving and receiving thanks will create trust, both horizontally and vertically.

Show People they are Valued

Of course, no one thinks of their employees strictly regarding productivity or profit! But if you are too focused on business matters and not taking time to show employees they are valued, it might seem that way to them.

A people-oriented culture is a culture of mutual respect where people can relate to each other and feel they are treated fairly.

In this type of environment, leaders listen and have active conversations. They make all employees feel like they are a vital “cog” in the wheel and offer incentives like profit-sharing to make employees feel valued.

When employees are appreciated and valued, they will stick around and contribute great ideas.

A Focus on Work-Life Balance

More and more people today enjoy flexible work schedules and working from home. And while this may not be the best fit for your business, you may want to consider that there is more competition than ever today with other companies who offer such perks.

Part of this is that people feel more like people when their employers understand they have lives outside of work. Childcare, health concerns, exercise, and simply getting enough sleep are examples of everyday things which work models typically don’t account for.

Some ways you can encourage balance at the workplace include:

  • Onsite daycare
  • Paid time off
  • Lunchtime yoga classes
  • Gym discounts
  • Formal work-from-home arrangements
  • Extended health benefits

Anything you can do to help employees make their day-to-day schedules less stressful will send a message that you value and appreciate them as people. The result should be happier, more productive staff.

A People-Oriented Culture is Crucial to the Success of Your Organization

By focusing on empathy, praise, recognition, and positivity, you will create a company culture that empowers teams to be at their best.

And as we all know, a business is only as good as its employees.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of a well-developed company culture, let’s connect: or

Enjoyed this article? Here are three more to help you:

The 7 Traits of an Agile Leader
How to Personalize Training so it Inspires Learning
6 Key Behaviors and Traits That Define Strong Executive Presence

Leave a Reply

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.


Inscape Consulting Group
Greg Nichvalodoff, BSc. BM (Honors), MBA, PCC, CMC
Office: 604.943.0800
Mobile: 604.831.4734