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People strategy, build one employees actually want

Develop a people strategy that your people want, your leaders can support and your tech company needs.
People strategy,   Talent Attraction

Build a people strategy for your people, not your C-Suite





Why you need a people strategy

Want to exist a year from now? That’s why.


What it should include

Don’t guess. Ask your employees what they want.


Why C-Suite shouldn’t be designing it

Do the highest paid people really know what employees care about?


Top 5 tips for developing your people strategy

Build it from the ground up, empower your people, and back it up with action.



Why you need a people strategy


Your people strategy is the plan you put in place for attracting, developing and retaining top talent. It should tell a clear story about the type of employer you are, what you really care about and how much you prioritise the growth and wellbeing of your people.

As with a lot of things pre-pandemic, companies could be quite lazy about developing their people strategy. Employers didn’t feel the threat of people walking away from a stable job, so they weren’t prepared when lockdown lifted and people started to realise there was more to life than sticking at an unfulfilling job just because the office was 20 minutes down the road.

The whole world is coming out of this strange period of time with a new perspective, resulting in candidates wanting much more from their careers — and having less barriers to getting it. Take note if you want to stay relevant 1, 3, 5 years (or even just six months) from now.



What it should include


Talent attraction


The future of your business depends on the top talent you hire to grow it. How are you going to find the best candidates and convince them to choose you over a competitor? What do you offer that they don’t? You need to give people a reason to think you’re worth switching jobs for.

Candidates want to work somewhere with a strong purpose, where true flexibility is a given and the opportunity to thrive and grow isn’t just for the loudest voices with the flashiest CVs. If you’re going to appeal to the right people, you’ll need a well-developed employer brand, an employee value proposition that gives employees what they actually want and an impactful careers website that brings all of that together into a compelling story.


Talent development


Do you have a clear structure for developing people? Are your people leaders empowered to promote team members based on their contribution to the business? Are employees fairly rewarded when they progress, or have you created tight banding that restricts the growth of internal candidates? Do you have clear policies in place so that everyone is developed and rewarded fairly?

These are all things you will need to consider if you want to create employee advocacy and avoid people feeling like they need to look elsewhere to progress their careers.


Employee engagement


This is arguably the most important part of your strategy. Engaged employees are those who feel supported by leadership, respected by peers and motivated to contribute to your business.

But engagement is tricky to measure — and an engaged workforce isn’t necessarily a happy one. In their Global Workplace 2022 Report, research company Gallup found that employees who are engaged at work but not thriving have a 61% higher chance of ongoing burnout than those who are engaged and thriving.

So, how do you create an engaged workforce that can thrive too? Start by committing to do everything you say you will. Engagement relies heavily on trust and communication.

If you choose to regularly gather feedback, ask honest questions about leadership, empowerment and personal wellbeing. More importantly, use that information to adapt your policies, address any underlying issues and communicate honestly with your whole business to let them know what you’ve learnt — and what you’re doing about it.




The best kind of company culture makes people feel safe, included and positive about the work they do (and who they do it for). It should be driven by your company purpose and a strong employer brand, but it can’t be dictated; it needs to grow organically.

You can influence culture by hiring a diverse team, setting clear business and team goals, and having policies in place to reward and support employees. Crucially, you need to regularly ask your employees how they feel about your culture and look for signs that the reality is not matching your ambitions.

If you don’t work hard enough to build a positive culture, or ignore the things driving a poor one, you face a huge potential risk. In their Global Culture Research Report 2022, SHRM found that 90% of employees who rate their work culture as ‘poor’ have thought about quitting.

On average, 50% of the UK employees they spoke to have thought about leaving their current organisation.

Top 5 tips for developing your people strategy



1. Build it from the ground up


Your people strategy is all about giving your employees what they need to thrive and stay engaged with your business — so let them decide what’s best. By doing it this way, your employees will feel like they’ve had a voice and their opinions have been heard, which will drive much higher engagement and brand loyalty.

We’re seeing endless transformations happening across product and service design. Is it time for a people transformation next? There’s certainly a need for it. People are your biggest asset so they need to feel valued and supported, but a lot of processes and policies are outdated and don’t suit the way people want to work and engage with their employer now.

If companies don’t invest in modernising and adapting their people strategies to meet today’s expectations, they risk becoming insignificant in the market and losing their best talent to competitors.


2. Follow a clear process


Developing a people strategy can feel like a daunting task because there’s so much riding on it. We’ve developed a process that will help you successfully build a people-first strategy.


A) Consider your audience

If you were developing a client strategy, you’d ask what they want to achieve before you start. If you were transforming a website, you’d ask potential users for their experiences in using it. Now is the time to take the same approach to building your people strategy: understand your employees and what motivates them.


B) Gather data to support decisions

Run workshops with people from across your business to map out what they need at each point of their career. Run smaller breakout sessions to pick apart each theme. Collate all of that information, identify what your employees like/dislike, want/don’t want. Pull it together into a report that can be shared.


C) Assess what’s needed

You’ve got the insight that tells you what people want. Now you need to assess how well you meet those needs, and where you need to make changes.


D) Then ask if it works for the business

There isn’t an endless pot of money to invest, so you will need the C-Suite to agree to it. Once you have a clear view of what’s needed, take it to the leadership team who can price it, model it and work out what can/can’t be done. Whatever you propose will still need to work for the business financially, but it’ll be a lot closer to the mark if you’ve put the work in before you go to them.


3. Empower your people managers to make it happen


The tricky bit about this is making sure you have the right managers in the first place. Research company Gallup found that companies make a wrong decision about who to hire into a management role around 82% of the time. You could be paying the wrong people to do a mediocre job — or worse, undo everything outlined in your people strategy.

Part of the challenge is the linear route to progression in organisations and the ‘accidental managers’ that creates. People who are very good at their job and want to grow tend to get to a point where progression involves taking on people management responsibilities — with no guarantee that they’ll be any good at it, and often very little support in showing them how to do it well.

So, start with rigorous hiring processes (part of your talent attraction and development strategies), define clear responsibilities and expectations, and provide in-depth training for new leaders. Help them understand how to nurture a well-performing team and build in the time for them to spend developing and supporting their direct reports.


4. Back up insight with action


Large organisations tend to rely heavily on surveys. They’re often created with the right intention — but if you ask a question, you need to be willing and ready to act on the response. Lack of action will drive disengagement and either put people off responding next time or only attract disillusioned colleagues which will skew your results.

If you’re going to run a survey, you need to find more personal, approachable methods of talking about the results and dig deeper to find solutions to the challenges your employees are sharing with you.


5. Let your people define it, but don’t expect them to do all the work


We firmly believe people strategies should be developed by people who are representative of your wider workforce. But that doesn’t mean the C-Suite is off the hook.

One of the challenges we’ve seen in some areas of people strategy, particularly DEI, is where lots of organisations talk about doing the right thing then leave it to a few active employees to lead  internal networks tasked at supporting DEI initiatives. This is not their full-time job, and it’s also not something that can be done side-of-desk.

You should have someone (or a team, depending on how big your business is) centrally placed in your Talent function who is responsible for facilitating conversations, supporting with research and doing the leg work.

If you want engaged employees contributing to the future of your business, respect their opinions and use their time wisely.

We’re embedded with unicorns, soonicorns and global enterprises. We get people strategy.