7 characteristics of a People Company

7 characteristics of a People Company

SkyScanner, Huddle and Just Eat. They’re some of the world’s fastest-growing and innovative companies. But they also have one thing in common critical to their success: how they value their people. They put their employees first.

At Sage People, we call companies which do this ‘People Companies’; when it comes to the crunch, they truly put the success of their people at the top of the list for company success.

But what are the secrets to these high-growth, progressive companies that put people first? We think there are seven things to look out for.

  1. People Companies create meaningful, positive workforce experiences

Someone who has wholly positive experiences at work, and finds their work engaging and meaningful, is going to be a greater asset to a company than someone who doesn’t.

We’re not talking about ping pong tables and free food – we’re talking about organizations where employees feel truly engaged, empowered and inspired. For example, giving employees projects that reflect their passions and values, and empowering them to own it and deliver the best outcomes as a result.

Meaningful workplace experiences are different for each employee, and companies which put their people first get this; they understand their employees’ motivations, and tailor their approaches to each employee as a result.

  1. People Companies understand, and use, the power of their employer brand

Ask yourself: is your company a great place to work? That’s the question potential candidates will ask themselves. They’ll follow your company’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn feeds to see if you’re a good organization to work for. And they’ll search the internet to see how your brand compares with your competitors and other leading brands as a workplace.

Companies like Pebble {code} and Shopify know this – and are prepared. They apply customer marketing strategies to how they recruit and retain people. They understand that they can attract the best, by marketing themselves to the best.

  1. People Companies make decisions based on People Science

In a People Company, leaders get insight on what drives their workforce through People Science. They use data to develop stronger insights about their people and motivations. This can be used to make more informed evidence-based people decisions – and used for predictive purposes, so that managers can start to make more proactive decisions.

People Companies use insights from People Science in everything they do. They use it to design workforce experiences, market themselves to candidates, and understand employees’ behaviour and motivations.

  1. People Companies have continuous conversations instead of annual appraisals

The days of annual appraisals are over. People Companies know this, and instead have continuous conversations. They provide regular feedback throughout the year. And they use approaches like peer-led ‘shout outs’ to reward performance (something we do at Sage People). Instead, they capture feedback in a much more frequent and iterative manner, which drives quicker improvements in performance.

Many forward-thinking, fast-growth and innovative companies are agile in their approach to building a product or managing a project – the same goes for how they manage their people and feedback, too.

  1. People Companies embrace mobile and on-demand working

With the ever-growing skills crisis and war for talent, People Companies know that workplace flexibility is the vital to attracting, engaging and retaining the best people. As the makeup of work teams continues to evolve, and the modern workforce becomes more tech savvy, more mobile and more dispersed, fast-growth companies are embracing new ways of working.

We live in an on-demand world where employees, as consumers, can do their grocery shopping, order dinner, and hail a cab on mobile. Employees expect this kind of immediacy at work too.

  1. People Companies automate HR processes, and design better ways of working

People Companies give their employees autonomy to do things themselves, such as booking holiday, setting objectives, or managing their teams. They use people systems that are designed for their employees, and provide better experiences.

People Companies are getting ahead by automating transactional processes, and leaving their leaders free to focus on people. They get quicker feedback and take remedial action. By continually redesigning better ways of working in this iterative manner, People Companies see a quicker impact on engagement and productivity.

Our recent research, ‘Becoming a People Company’, supports this. It found that fast-growth companies are performing better than others on this; typically, 80% have embraced HR automation versus 53% in lower growth businesses.

  1. People Companies have Chief People Officers

In a People Company, the HR function is evolving quickly to embrace new skills and roles, such as People Scientists, business psychologists, designers, and marketing and communications specialists – and are led by a Chief People Officer.

This role is typically found in forward-thinking fast-growth companies such as the likes of Skyscanner, Huddle, and Just Eat.

However, having a Chief People Officer does not simply make an organization a People Company.

To be a People Company, HR leaders (or people leaders!) need to think about how they leverage new approaches, new roles and new ways of design to create truly great workforce experiences for their people.

Do you work in a People Company? To find out more, read our whitepapers on great workforce experiences and People Marketing – and try our profile tool to find out.

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