Design a People Strategy That’s Right for Your Organization

June 02, 2023

Use this blueprint to connect the structural elements of your people strategy with your company’s vision, mission, and business goals.

As a human resources professional, chances are you’re good with people.

Now, would you say the same about your organization as a whole? If so, you probably have a well-designed people strategy in place.

Managing people is both science and art. Employers must meet essential requirements, like ensuring employees are safe and paid on time. But to sustain a thriving workforce that drives business outcomes, companies also need to creatively attract, engage, retain, and develop the best-fit talent.

A people strategy is a blueprint to help HR practitioners and leaders build trust with candidates and employees, so the company has the workforce it needs now and in the future.

As with any blueprint, it’s good to start with the right foundation.

What Is a People Strategy — and What Isn’t?

A people strategy connects business outcomes to employee experience by demonstrating your values in action. For example, if one of your business goals is to innovate and create new products, what does success look like for employees?

As with all business strategies, your people strategy is built on the foundation of your organization’s vision and mission. From there, an effective people strategy has four cornerstones:

  1. Recruitment
  2. Engagement
  3. Retention
  4. Talent Development

Each cornerstone consists of strategies that, together, create a workforce who can uphold your values.

Before you start building, you need to install a sturdy floor to support that workforce. That’s where your HR strategy comes into play.

What’s the Difference Between HR Strategy and People Strategy?

An HR strategy provides direction to the HR team so they can implement best practices across the employee lifecycle. It describes how HR delivers value to the business.

A people strategy outlines how HR — and the organization at large — delivers value to employees through personally and professionally rewarding experiences. Which then delivers value to the business.

When a strong HR strategy is implemented with a great people strategy, employees reward your company with loyalty. In turn, your company saves on recruitment costs, increases productivity, and leverages in-house expertise.

Does Your Organization Need a People Strategy?

There’s plenty of research about employee experience and its impact on business outcomes. A people strategy helps you build a holistic experience that reinforces your values.

The potential results of a well-executed people strategy are far-reaching:

  • Employees and leadership are aligned and working toward the same business goals.
  • The HR team can provide the services, benefits, and tools that empower employees to do their best work.
  • The organization keeps and continues to grow its knowledge base by developing talent from within.

How to Create an Effective People Strategy

In her HR blog for Spotify, Katarina Berg explains how a people-first approach must be purpose-driven. She describes the company’s people strategy as a “complete package” consisting of:

  • Genuine values that reflect their people’s motivations
  • A shared vision and purpose
  • A manifesto with tangible examples of how their mission and values come together on a daily basis.

How do you assemble these components into a cohesive — and executable — people strategy?

To create the people strategy that’s right for your organization, start by assessing the talent needs that align with your short- and long-term business goals. What gaps need to be filled to reach those goals? How will you find the right talent and keep them? And how will you future-proof your workforce so it’s resilient when inevitable change happens?

Pro Tip: Don’t Forget Your Talent Philosophy!

As you develop a people strategy, consider how it fits with your talent philosophy. A talent philosophy is your organization’s beliefs about talent management, including how performance is measured, how much to invest in leadership development, levels of transparency regarding employee career potential, and more.

Defining your talent philosophy with leadership brings consistency to how your organization approaches talent management. The tenets of your talent philosophy should be reflected in your people strategy to provide further alignment across the organization. This helps ensure your approach to talent management is holistic and reflects your company’s values and culture.

Learn more about building a talent philosophy.

Determining what works best for your organization takes time and a little trial and error (i.e., evaluation and adjustment.) Your blueprint will never quite be finished, but that’s OK. You can continue to refine it even after construction begins.

Before we start building, we need to know our people strategy can support our values and business goals. That means it needs to be load-bearing and able to withstand outside pressures. What elements will ensure our people strategy is structurally sound?

6 Key Elements of a People Strategy

The goal of your people strategy is to attract, retain, engage, and develop a workforce that will keep your company in business. Let’s look at some of the key structural elements that will help you activate your strategy.

Attract the Best Candidates

  1. Employer Brand — The employee experience starts from the moment you post a job opening. To start the relationship on the right foot, create an employer brand that is rooted in your values. Your employer brand not only makes your company attractive to candidates, it also introduces them to your culture so they can see if their values align with yours.

Retain Your Top Talent

  1. Employee Well-Being — There are many ways employers impact the well-being of their workers, from keeping them safe to providing financial stability to addressing mental health needs. When employees feel their employer cares about their overall well-being, they are 69% less likely to actively search for a job and three times more likely to be engaged at work.
    Does your people strategy prioritize the support and services your workforce needs and wants?
  1. Recognition Programs — Everyone likes to be recognized when they go above and beyond. While few would turn down a merit pay increase, peer recognition programs are a great opportunity to boost employee morale while showcasing real-life examples of your values.

Engage Employees Intentionally

  1. A Culture of Connection — Building a strong company culture that fosters communication and collaboration has many bottom-line benefits, including increased productivity and reduced absenteeism. It’s also a way to keep your business moving forward.
    In a survey by Gartner, among employees whose organizations have high levels of intentional collaboration, 75% also report having high levels of team innovation.
  1. Employee Feedback — However you design your blueprint, your people strategy should include opportunities for employees to share their feedback. There are several ways to measure levels of employee engagement, such as turnover rates — but that’s an HR measurement. Put people first by giving them a voice through surveys to keep a pulse on employee sentiment.

Develop Tomorrow’s Talent Today

  1. Skills-Based Training — Rapid shifts in technology, combined with a competitive talent market and evolving employee expectations, have organizations rethinking the traditional job-based work model. Both employers and workers are now prioritizing skills and the opportunity to develop them.
    In their 2023 Global Human Capital Trends report, Deloitte found 66% of workers are more likely to stay at a company that values and makes decisions based on their skills and potential.

Read More: Top 5 Talent Development Strategies

What Does a People Strategy Look Like?

Your people strategy is built on the foundation of your organization’s unique vision. As you ladder up to your business outcomes, you’ll make the design choices that best reflect your values.

Take Paylocity, for example.

Everything we do is rooted in our shared values. They are our North Star, our guiding light. They drive how we make decisions, treat each other, and define success.

While we can’t give away all our secrets to being an award-winning employer of choice, here is an example based on Paylocity’s people strategy.

Keep in mind, your people strategy isn’t set in stone. It will evolve as your organization adapts to shifts in the labor market, not to mention unforeseen business disruptions. Even after the strategy has settled, you can always put on an addition or re-decorate!

Bring Your People Strategy to Life with a Modern HR Solution

Now that you’ve custom-designed your blueprint, it’s time to start building your people strategy. As with any construction project, having the right tools on hand makes the process go much more smoothly.

Luckily, here at Paylocity, we have the advantage of using our own solution.

Built-in communication and collaboration tools, along with in-depth human capital analytics, enable our HR team to drive connection across the company. Having the best HR technology at our disposal does more than make us a best place to work — it also lets us achieve accelerated growth and innovation.

See how a modern, flexible HR and payroll platform can help you improve employee experience across your organization and deliver a winning people strategy. Request a demo today.

To learn more about Paylocity’s people-first culture, check out our Careers page.


Reach Your Workforce Wherever They Are

We all want to get more done with less email and fewer meetings – yet reaching a workforce, whether they're remote, on-site, or hybrid, can be tricky. Improve communication, enable engagement, and connect all your employees with Community. This modern social collaboration tool allows your workforce to access newsletters, policies, and emergency updates, while also giving a central hub for your employees to come together.

Connect Employees