January 03, 2023

Meeting Employee Needs with a People-First Plan for 2023

Strategies, practices, and trends for HR and People leaders building a plan for the new year

The coming of a new year presents an ideal time to look back and reflect on what was accomplished, what was learned, and what will be carried into the new year. For HR leaders, this is a time to begin devising a new strategic plan to promote the growth and development of your people and, by extension, your company.

Today, prioritizing people means putting the people who keep your company moving forward first — all people. It means listening to the employees and managers to find out what worked for them this past year and what support they believe they need going into the new year. It means reflecting on how current programs have and have not served employees. And it means making decisions based on what was learned through your experience overseeing programs as well as taking into consideration what you heard from your people through surveys, feedback, and yearly reviews.

To support HR and people leaders in building a people-first plan that meets the needs of their employees in the new year, we hosted a live event. We called on the expertise of a number of business and people leaders, asking them to discuss strategies, practices, and trends to consider when planning for the new year.

In this post, we’ll highlight the lessons, challenges, and trends experienced by Sarah Sheehan, Bravely’s Co-Founder & President and Katasha Harley, Chief People Officer at Bravely, as well as Bravely customers ZsaNell Smith, Director, Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at FMC, and Anthony Onesto, Chief People Officer at Suzy.

Demonstrate your understanding of the business to secure budget

In a down market, it’s especially important that employees are as engaged as ever. Keeping employees focused on and enjoying their work, as well as what is driving their productivity, is key.

Here’s how you prepare to discuss the topic of people programs with the executives deciding on your budget for the year: Demonstrate that you understand where the business is in addition to the pulse of your employees and the company culture.

You know your people better than anyone. Connect your goals and people initiatives to the business, particularly important in these uncertain times, and position yourself as a business partner. As companies start to cut back, it’s important that you are able to show what cutbacks in certain areas will cost the company. Look at the different programs and tools you’re currently providing employees, assess what value they provide both people and the company, and be able to speak to anticipated ROI. You might have to do more with less, so begin exploring how you build up efficiency with what you determine to be essential people programs and benefits.

To learn more about how to secure budget for your people initiatives, read Bravely’s guide here.

Recognize the value people bring to your organization

How did we end up in a place where people are being told they should be lucky they even have a job? Sarah was quite curious about where that sentiment came from, and she was even more curious about how to dispel that idea.

A thought: Likely, the idea was born of the devaluing of employees and their contributions to the organization. Don’t let that become part of your company culture. Show employees that you’re committed to supporting people initiatives and programs, don’t just talk about it. “Walk the talk that you talk,” says ZsaNell.

It’s no mystery that Gen Z and Millennials are relatively more likely to hold leaders accountable if what they have done turns out to be noticeably different from what they said. Be consistent.

The current market is unstable for everyone — people and businesses both. Your people are helping to fuel you through that market, and they’re still with you. Continuing to invest in them to keep their heads in the right place will keep people believing in your company and the work they’re doing.

5 people-first trends to prioritize in the new year

Before the panel discussion wrapped, each leader left the audience with a piece of advice, an area of focus on in 2023, they believed worth prioritizing.

1. Get more personalized in HR — This ultimately leads to productivity increases and decreases attrition. How do you achieve this? It comes down to listening, surveying employees, understanding what people want, and making sure you have leaders who know what their people need.

2. Improve leader and manager effectiveness — People leave managers more often than they leave companies. With this in mind, it’s important to invest resources in ensuring your leaders are effectively trained and prepared to lead, develop others, support growth, and manage people.

3. Create growth opportunities — People are looking for ways to growth with their current company. Of course, people are looking for upward mobility, but they also need opportunities to grow within their existing role (lateral growth).

4. Focus on employee needs — Discussed above and thoroughly throughout the recorded live event, it is more important than ever that leaders listen for, reflect on, and address the needs of their people.

5. Double down on emotional intelligence — This is the apex of focusing on employee needs. Support your people in engaging further by helping them identify and align their end goal with that of the company.

Build reflection into your personal plan for 2023

As your plans for the year ahead begin taking shape, remember to take a step back, connect with colleagues, and discuss the importance of what you’re doing when you can. It’s easy to remain hyper-focused on what’s happening within our virtual or real walls and forget to zoom out. Remind yourself why you do what you do.

Watch the event recording to learn more about the topics shared above as well as hear all of the discussion.

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