Ultimate Software's Blog

“People First” in Action

Ultimate Software is so successful because the organization works with a great culture, creates award winning products, and delivers exceptional customer service. All three must be great in order for business to succeed.

By now, we understand that employee engagement gives way to the employee experience. Meaning, it’s time to focus on automatically creating an outstanding employee experience so engagement just happens. But, in order for that to happen, the employee experience cannot mimic the traditional employee lifecycle. It needs to focus on people.

In a person-centered lifecycle, HR professionals aren’t spending their time developing processes. They are identifying and developing talent. They are helping the business set the priorities when it comes to talent strategy. And they are designing work that is open and accessible in order to maintain a competitive advantage.

Leadership Gaps Impact a “People First” Culture
Organizations looking to move toward a person-centered lifecycle must invest in their leadership teams. According to the Deloitte 2015 Global Human Capital Trends Report, 90 percent of respondents surveyed cite leadership as “important” or “very important.” However, the data also suggest that organizations have made little or no progress. The capability gap for building great leaders has widened in every region of the world, with only 6 percent of companies feeling fully ready to address their leadership issues.

Putting People First
The key to a person-centered lifecycle is making people the center of organizational strategy. Think of it as a three-legged stool of sorts, with the legs being products, services, and culture. People touch each strategy, and without the right people…well, the strategy isn’t what we planned. Organizations need to align people with their products, services, and culture.

Make Great Products
Having the best talent and putting people first does not absolve a company from making good products. The best products come from the company’s efforts to find the best talent and treat them well. The challenge is syncing up business outcomes with talent strategy.

Organizations expect leaders to manage business outcomes through the performance management process. However, recent research has shown that performance management ratings are not accurate predictors of actual business performance—meaning, ratings have zero correlation with business unit performance.

A people-first product strategy embraces transparency and innovation. Work is open and collaborative. Employees feel connected to their work and understand its impact on the bottom line.

Deliver Excellent Service
This means not only deliver excellent service to customers, but also deliver excellent service to employees (who work with customers every day). Service needs to be extraordinary and efficient.

Today’s business leaders have to spend their time wisely. As reported in the Harvard Business Review article, “Reinventing Performance Management,” Deloitte tallied the number of hours it spent on performance management and found that completing the forms, holding the meetings, and creating the ratings consumed close to 2 million hours a year.

A people-first service strategy invests in development at every level of the organization. It supports employees becoming masterful in their roles, so employees can take care of customers.

Create a People-First Culture
A people-first company culture should support product innovation and respectful service. To make that happen, leaders need to be given the tools to properly hire, onboard, train, etc. It also means giving leaders performance management tools that add value. In addition to being a lengthy process, performance evaluations are also one of the costliest employee processes. The average organizational cost of a performance appraisal is $2,500 per employee, per year.

It’s time to give leadership a performance management process that puts people first. Leadership is ready to coach and mentor employees to do their best work.

The future of work is here. It’s centered around people who will take your business to the next level. It’s time to create a people-first culture by focusing on the future of people at work.