Defining “People First”

March 7, 2016      By Ultimate Software

Ultimate Software began more than 25 years ago with a core belief: Always put people first. This founding principle drives all we do—from creating a culture that’s made Ultimate the Best Large Workplace in Technology; to designing our award-winning human capital management (HCM) platform, UltiPro®; to providing our customers with the HCM industry’s most valuable service.

We know what “People First” means to US, but we wanted to know what it means to the people outside of Ultimate: those who’ve witnessed what happens when businesses put their people first.

So we asked several HCM influencers, “What does ‘People First’ mean to you?”

Here’s what they said:

Sabrina Baker: “Putting people first means leaders spend more time creating and cultivating relationships with employees than they do anything else. It means focusing on employee development more than product development. In a people-first environment, leaders understand that, by focusing on employees first, the innovation, efficiency, and productivity will follow.”

Steve Boese: “To me, putting people first in the workplace means that the leaders of the organization are committed to creating and maintaining a culture of caring, and, perhaps more importantly, of inclusiveness. It emphasizes that every employee at every level is important, not just for the skills they have and the work that they do, but also as individuals who are ‘real’ people and are valued members of the community. Putting people first shows everyone that they matter, they are valued, and they are supported—and that, in turn, should lead to thinking about and treating the organization’s customers in that same manner.”

Ben Eubanks: “When I think of ‘People First,’ my mind instantly turns to the policies and processes we use within our organizations. Many are set up for efficiency, compliance, or ease of use on the HR side, but they are unpleasant or downright awful for employees to navigate. Want to be an organization that puts people first? Think of them when you’re creating those tools and processes—if it’s making their lives harder, maybe you’re going in the wrong direction.”

Paul Hebert: “‘People First’ means assuming competency, commitment, and caring on the part of every employee. It means asking how you can help them—not how they can help the company. Putting people first means finding a way to link what the people find meaningful to the meaning of the company. It means caring about employees at a human level and not simply as resources to drive company value. It’s about enhancing employees, not engaging them.”

Sharlyn Lauby: “Putting people first means taking care of the employees who take care of the customer. As a human resources professional, I’ve always thought of that as my job description. When employees are happy and engaged in their jobs, then customers are happy, and it shows in sales and service. That’s how I connect what I do with the bottom line.”

Jennifer McClure: “To me, focusing on ‘People First’ in the workplace means ensuring that we communicate effectively with all employees about where we are headed as an organization, and how they (individually) fit into that vision. Employee engagement is an outcome of people feeling like the work that they do matters and that their efforts are noticed. So keep your employees informed, and ensure that they know how they fit into the company’s plans!”

Tim Sackett: “I’m a big fan of servant leadership. To me, putting people first means, as a leader, you’re doing everything in your power to make those people you work with successful. If they’re successful, our organization will be successful.”

Matthew Stollak: “Putting people first in the workplace means ensuring employee input is considered and valued. In addition, it means providing the appropriate resources so that employees can do what they do best.”

Janine Truitt: “Putting people first means seeing your employees as whole human beings and understanding the complexities, opportunities, and abilities that come to work with them every day. ‘People First’ means everyone matters and you regard people’s well-being and success as a priority.”

What does putting people first mean to you? We invite you to share your thoughts on social media using #PeopleFirst. Be sure to also visit Ultimate’s new #PeopleFirst page to learn what “People First” means to our employees—and what it can mean for your people and your business.

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