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People-Centric Approach the Secret to a Thriving Workplace



  • Leadership & Strategy

People-Centric Approach the Secret to a Thriving Workplace

Employee well-being and a thriving culture are emerging as retention strategy priorities. In an episode of the HRMorning podcast “Voices of HR,” Claude Silver, the chief heart officer at VaynerMedia, provided a people-centric blueprint for companies to build a culture of kindness, compassion and belonging.

One of the key strategies she’s implemented across her organization is designating “culture champions.” These are employees who act as ambassadors of the company’s values and encourage connections across the organization.

They’re the kind of people who give Silver “a sense that [they’re] interested in something bigger than just coming in every single day and doing their day job.”

These culture champions are empowered to support their colleagues and ensure no one feels isolated. “When you ask someone if they want to be a culture champion, they light up. ‘You chose me? … Why me?’ … That’s what I’m looking for. Someone [who] will just go the extra mile to make someone’s day a little bit better,” she said.

After new hires have been on the job for between 90 and 120 days, Silver said she meets with them and if they haven’t made any work friends or met people outside of their department, she’ll say, “I would love to introduce you to nine [of our company’s] culture champions around the globe. You’re going to have 15-minute conversations with them.”

Listen to the full episode here

People-Centric Feedback

The way Silver describes her organization’s feedback process is also indicative of a people-centric culture. Rather than relying on traditional annual reviews, the company has adopted a quarterly growth check-in system, where the focus is on supporting employees’ professional development. This ensures employees feel they have a clear path for career advancement within the company.

She also mentioned a “kind candor” philosophy to feedback. Employees are encouraged to provide constructive criticism in a way that’s both truthful and helpful.

“If we are creating that safe space, and removing fear from that conversation, we can be honest. We are coming into it with really one thing in mind, which is how can we help you? What is it that you need from us?” she said. This fosters a people-centric culture while encouraging continuous improvement.

Finding the Fear

Another people-centric aspect of Silver’s role involves proactively finding any “fear” or “cancer” within the organization — terms used by VaynerMedia CEO and social media influencer Gary Vaynerchuk to describe issues such as cynicism, bullying or micromanagement.

She described a conversation she had with a senior executive, addressing complaints about him being a micromanager: “‘Tell me what’s going on. Do you not trust them? You’re safe here. You’re doing great here. However, that’s a big vulnerability.’ … What was going on [was] his father was being moved to a nursing home. Well, that’s a huge life event. And he felt powerless. … There’s a solution to almost everything here. What is it?”

By encouraging open communication, Silver and her team are able to identify and address challenges before they escalate, ensuring that employees feel heard, supported and empowered.

Getting the Ball Rolling on a People-Centric Culture

An empathetic, people-centric culture is a strategic imperative that can drive long-term growth and resilience. If it’s the direction you’d like to see your culture moving in, what’s the first move?

“You always want to benchmark where you are. So benchmark where these 20 people are in their happiness and their fulfillment, in their enjoyment of work, in their wanting to come back to the office, whatever it is,” she said.

“Go to your CEO, your CFO, whomever it is, your board, and say, ‘I’d like to do a study. It’ll take six to nine months. I only need a little bit of money.’ And then you start having courageous conversations with [those employees]. You start doing a book club. You start spending time with one another, getting to know one another, creating those safe, courageous spaces for one another. And in six or nine months, whenever your study is over, you will … survey them. And I guarantee you will see a spike in enjoyment, pleasure, wanting to come to work, wanting to be in the office more.”

By embracing a people-centric approach, employers can create an environment where employees feel valued and inspired to bring their authentic selves to work.

Watch the full episode here

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