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People-First HR: Why 2024 is All About Putting Your Employees First

Posted by Devayani Bapat

April 29, 2024

People are the driving force behind a company’s success, making it imperative for businesses to create environments that nurture their growth and well-being.

Many companies have invested heavily in digitally-driven budget allocations in recent years, prioritizing technology and innovation. However, there’s a noticeable shift happening this year—a tilt in favor of the people.

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Imagine you’re part of a SaaS company where resources are poured into cutting-edge research, development, and tech innovation. Your office is staffed with state-of-the-art robots designed to handle tasks autonomously—scheduling meetings, taking calls, brewing that hot cuppa coffee—all with precision. But what happens when one of these robots malfunctions or requires an upgrade?

While technology remains essential, it cannot replace the irreplaceable elements of human interaction. That’s the essence of the shift in 2024—global trends are pointing toward a people-first approach. Let’s look a little closely at what that means for businesses today. 

What is People-First HR?

When companies prioritize their employees’ well-being and foster a positive work atmosphere, they embody a people-first HR approach. This approach goes beyond simply clocking in hours and completing daily tasks—it’s about cultivating a healthy work environment that drives employee engagement and allows them to thrive. This approach also emphasizes implementing practical DEI principles (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) within the workplace, paving the way for continuous growth and development. 

Implementing employee engagement initiatives is especially vital in the private equity, SaaS, and technology sectors, where jobs can be excruciatingly demanding. In such companies, HR departments must recognize that talent retention and motivation are critical for success. By adopting a people-first HR strategy, small and big businesses can significantly enhance employee satisfaction, strengthen team collaboration, and drive superior performance and returns, instilling confidence in the workforce. 

Why is it important?

Having a people-focused or people-first approach can help a company in more ways than one. Not only does it help boost employee engagement, but it also fosters loyalty. As a result, it contributes to the company’s overall growth and success. We have listed a few reasons that show that this indeed acts as a critical factor that influences the employee value proposition, which refers to the unique set of benefits and rewards that an employee receives in return for their skills, capabilities, and experiences, in a firm, making it an essential part of HR policies implemented. 

Improved engagement leads to employee retention:

In the modern workplace, ‘quiet quitting’ is a term used to describe a situation where employees do only the bare minimum required instead of genuinely engaging with their jobs. This poses a significant challenge as it can lead to decreased productivity and employee morale. The trend is primarily fueled by a lack of engagement, as highlighted in a Gallup report, which found that many employees worldwide are mentally checking out at work. They remain physically present but are emotionally and mentally disengaged, resulting in minimal effort that meets only the most basic job requirements.

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This disengagement can harm a company’s productivity, culture, and employee morale. Disengaged employees are less likely to invest in building relationships with their colleagues, participate in workplace activities, and commit to doing better at their jobs. This lack of connection and belonging can further disrupt their job satisfaction and loyalty toward the company. 

Addressing this issue is crucial for organizations, particularly as we move into 2024 with a focus on people-first HR strategies. HR departments must resort to budget allocation and curate strategies that will help counteract quiet quitting. Creating an engaging workplace where employees feel a sense of belonging is especially important. This goes beyond competitive salaries and benefits but involves a more holistic approach to creating a more inclusive and meaningful work environment. HR services for SaaS startups, mainly, must take extra care to include learning and development programs and a space for employees to grow and upskill. 

Putting people first enhances productivity and builds a workplace where employees are enthusiastic about contributing, growing, and building lasting relationships with their peers. This shift is essential for cultivating a resilient and dynamic workforce ready to meet future challenges with commitment and innovation.

It contributes to the employer brand:

Many job seekers’ first step after receiving an interview invitation is checking prospective employer ratings on platforms like Glassdoor. Suppose a company has poor reviews from former employees. In that case, it can seriously deter candidates, often leading them to ghost recruiters entirely. This sheds light on the crucial role of a people-first HR strategy. 

In today’s competitive landscape, HR departments must be vigilant about maintaining a company’s online reputation. From social media platforms to networking sites and job boards, monitoring reviews and ensuring that existing employees are satisfied with initiatives is paramount in a world where cancel culture is prevalent. A people-first HR approach isn’t just about keeping employees engaged and happy; it’s also about fostering a positive reputation for the employer brand. This is particularly significant for SaaS companies, where innovation and agility are paramount, and a strong employer brand can make the workforce feel proud and valued.  

Proactive HR services for SaaS companies can be a game-changer, helping these enterprises attract and retain top talent despite fierce competition. SaaS startups often operate under higher pressure to innovate and deliver exceptional solutions, which can cause HR focus to shift. In such cases, HR outsourcing for SaaS startups, which involves contracting with a third-party HR service provider to handle specific HR functions, can be highly beneficial. While employees focus on maximizing growth, third-party HR teams can tailor policies to suit their needs, driving engagement and a positive work culture. Outsourcing HR services can also alleviate the load and cost for companies, reducing the need for further assistance from in-house teams. 

Moreover, implementing effective employee engagement initiatives is crucial, particularly in sectors like private equity, where the workforce is often highly skilled and has considerable employment options. Employee engagement initiatives for private equity companies can significantly boost morale, productivity, and loyalty, directly impacting the company’s success and reputation. Embracing a people-first HR philosophy and investing in quality HR services helps build a positive employer brand and creates a supportive and engaging work environment. This strategic focus is significant for attracting top talent and achieving long-term success in the competitive SaaS sector.

The Key Takeaway:

The importance of having a people-first approach has become increasingly apparent. Employee expectations have evolved, and companies must recognize the need of the hour. For companies to attract and retain top talent, HR departments must invest in people-first strategies, which can include initiatives to improve work-life balance, promote employee well-being, and foster a positive work culture that ensures their teams and employees are happy and engaged with their work, creating a sense of loyalty and accountability towards the business. 

This shift towards a more empathetic, employee-centered HR model is not just a trend—it’s a strategic imperative that fosters innovation, drives productivity, and builds a resilient and inclusive corporate culture. Companies that commit to being people-first invest in their future, not just their teams, as a happy team translates into enhanced business performance, vital initiatives, and a desirable employer brand. The only way forward is to embrace a people-first philosophy, ensuring it seeps into every aspect of HR strategy in 2024 and beyond, setting a new standard for what it means to support and empower the workforce truly.

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Want to know more? In addition to HR, benefits, recruiting, and payroll through its PeopleOps, Escalon’s Essential Business Services include FinOps (CFO services, taxes, bookkeeping, and accounting) and Risk (business insurance). Talk to an expert today.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only. Escalon and its affiliates are not providing tax, legal, or accounting advice in this article. If you would like to engage with Escalon, please get in touch with us here.


Devayani Bapat
Devayani Bapat

With 6 years of experience in copywriting and social media management across genres, Devayani's heart lies with weaving words into stories and visuals into carefully crafted narratives that’ll keep you wanting more. She carries with her, her pocket notebook, a trusted confidante that goes with her wherever she goes, and scribbles down into it anecdotes on the go. Her secret weapon for keeping all things copy interesting! Apart from writing, Devayani is huge on travelling. You'll find her booking her next adventure while she's on her current one. And while on those adventures, you'll find her devouring true crime books one after the other. Whether it's a low down on a recent case or one that occurred 70 years ago, she can cook up a story narration you'll never forget.

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