Home » Knowledge Hub » » Go People-First in Challenging Times

Go People-First in Challenging Times

25 January 2023

Progress Software - Katie

Story by
Katie Kulikoski Chief People Officer - Progress


In challenging economic times there are many initiatives organisations can put in place to help their people. But everything must be based on employee need.

As if the general acceptance of remote working hasn’t added enough complexity for people managers, the current economic challenges have piled yet more pressure on HR teams to support and retain their most valuable assets – their people.

Employers are struggling to keep staff retention on an even keel, with HR and hiring managers scrambling for ideas to attract the best talent. Whilst many realise they need to be people-first, it’s hard to know where to start to deliver on workers’ evolving needs.

Based on Progress’ AllSpark employee survey, financial pressures are weighing heavily on employees’ minds due to inflation concerns and higher household costs. Understanding and appreciating workers at this time couldn’t be more critical.

Key considerations for a people-first strategy

It’s clear that workers do not want to go back to the way things were pre-pandemic. Research by Reed investigating what workers really want reveals that, after a salary increase (50%), flexible hours (24%) and more perks and benefits (24%) rank as the factors most likely to make workers stay in their roles.

In order to meet workers’ rising expectations, employers can consider some basic foundations for a people-first strategy to put their workers front and centre of everything they do. These can include flexible working practices, wellbeing and financial support and unusual employee perks:

Establishing flexible working practices

Progress’ “employee-choice” Future of Work policy, gives employees the flexibility to determine how frequently they work in the office, with some limitations. This aims to balance the desires of employees for flexibility and choice with the teams’ needs for in-person collaboration.

As an associated initiative to boost employee productivity, people teams can introduce a Team Enablement portal with practical toolkits and resources to help workers thrive in the evolving workplace and facilitate successful collaboration.

The business’ own employee survey in 2022 revealed that 95% of employees feel supported by this flexible work arrangement

Health and wellbeing support

It’s vital to have an employee wellbeing programme that focuses on the physical, mental, and financial health of all employees.

Organising free employee workshops or webinars for financial planning assistance can offer discussion and support around one of the biggest root causes of stress.

Offering an employee assistance programme, as well as access to webinars and resources around parenting, nutrition, and mental health can help to support those with caring responsibilities.

Tuition reimbursement is also a valuable perk for those with dependents who are upskilling.

Holiday perks

Encouraging workers to make the most of their leave is critical. Offering flexible holiday, subject to manager approval, is a sensible strategy, along with a paid day off to celebrate birthdays. Strongly encouraging employees to rest and recharge by taking their full allocation of time off can help to support their mental health and general wellbeing.

Going further to offer additional leave and time-off benefits, like flexible sick time, parental leave, and paid time for voluntary community initiatives can make an employer especially attractive in these tough economic times.

Sustainability initiatives

Increasingly employees are linking their company’s actions to combat climate change to their job satisfaction; this means it’s important to implement sustainable practices that minimise harm and maximise benefit to the environment.

Making such improvements to office spaces, as Progress has, can include the installation of solar panels, new electric meters, new water meters or switching all light fixtures to LED energy efficient light bulbs.

Financial support

Ensuring workers are valued and appropriately compensated for their work is critical.

Progress’ most recent employee survey revealed that remuneration is weighing heavily on employees’ minds, due largely to pressure from the rises in living costs. As a result, in September 2022 all full and part-time Progress employees, active or on leave, in roles up to and including Senior Manager received a one-off bonus equivalent to 2% of their annual base pay (approximately one week’s salary).

Employee perks

There are many ways to build a tight-knit culture that keeps workers feeling part of something special.

This can include employee events like “Bring Your Kids to Work Day”, wine tastings, a virtual talent show, or trivia contests and fitness challenges that provide fun opportunities for employees to connect.

Smaller team-orientated activities such as paint nights and trivia nights help us stay connected from afar. In 2021, Progress held a ‘thank you’ themed year-long celebration of our 40th anniversary in business, which included employee giveaways and a free virtual concert.

Being truly people-first will build loyalty

People policies that support workers’ real needs must be driven right from c-suite level to build a culture of support through more open and connected leadership.

This means having a leadership team that communicates transparently with employees, collects feedback and acts on that feedback.

In addition, marketing-influenced initiatives, such as a brand refresh, can empower employees with information and establish a clear identity. This might include launching new corporate values, a revised vision, brand pillars and new branding.

Now more than ever, employers must show workers that they care about them and their ecosystem each step of the way.

A robust people-first strategy, which recognises the challenges facing an organisation’s own employees and builds initiatives in critical areas of flexible working, wellbeing and financial support, social opportunities – and even a financial gesture – is the best approach to build long-term loyalty and trust.




Latest Events

The Good That HR Does

At a time when HR is dealing with considerable stresses and strains, both in business and in the wider world, this webinar concentrates on the good HR delivers.
The good that HR does

Attract Top Talent: Master Social Media Recruitment for the Modern Workforce

The talent landscape is changing - Millennials and Gen Z now make up a growing majority. By 2025, 75% of the workforce globally will be Millennials. Are you planning your Employer Branding priorities with them in mind?
Master Social Media Recruitment for the Modern Workforce

Spring Networking Event

In the surroundings of the National Treasures: Constable in Bristol “Truth to Nature” exhibition, we’re hosting a free drinks and networking opportunity for you to meet and connect with business leaders and colleagues.
spring networking event hrw

May 2024 – Employee Benefits: How to Stop Wasting Money

Are you throwing money at employee benefits or a health and wellbeing programme that aren't appreciated?
employee benefits how to stop wasting money

June 2024 – All Promises? Is AI the Answer to your HR and L&D challenges?

The impact of AI on the workplace and working life in general has been the subject of much speculation, but what of the impact on HR itself? With the ability to offer key data for HR streamline work processes, AI could be the answer hard-pressed HR professionals are looking for.
all promises is ai the answer

May 2024 – Equality, Diversity, Inclusion: Put your money where your mouth is

Is EDI still a vital part of every business' agenda and what good does it deliver for HR?
equality, diversity, inclusion webinar

AI in the Workplace, The Potential, The Pitfalls and The Risks

In recent years, advancements in AI technologies have surged, permeating nearly every industry and facet of our lives. From automating routine tasks to augmenting human decision-making, AI holds the promise of revolutionising productivity, efficiency, and creativity in the workplace.
AI in the Workplace

Apr 2024 – Reward and Recognition – is that the best you can do?

What are the standard ways HR should be seeking to reward and recognise its employees - and what are the more innovative ways?

Mar 2024 – Leveraging Digital Learning Tools: Empowering HR Teams for Success

In today's fast-paced business landscape, the role of HR teams is evolving rapidly. To stay competitive and foster organisational growth, companies must leverage effective learning programs strategically.

Mar 2024 – The Efficiency Programme: How HR can maximise technology benefits

There are huge promises and potential for the use of AI and technology in HR and in this session we discuss the best way ahead for HR for technology and AI use.

Effective Resourcing Models & How We Guarantee the Integrity of Inclusive Recruitment Regardless of Approach

A opportunity to debate how can we adopt a cohesive inclusive approach that enhances the candidate experience without creating barriers between us and the talent essential to your organisational success.
15 may 2024 sanderson effective resourcing models

Feb 2024 – It’s All HR’s Fault

Despite being a trusted voice in the C-suite, HR is still viewed with distrust and outright disdain by many employees – the very people HR is there to support.
Its all HRs Fault On demand Webinar

Jan 2024 – Health and Wellbeing: Making it Personal

If you’re investing in a health and wellbeing strategy, you want to make sure it meets the needs of your workforce.

Dec 2023 – Year in Review 2023

In this webinar we brought back some of our previous 2023 webinar speakers who gave their view on the past 12 months.

Nov 2023 – Reward and Recognition for the International Workforce

In this webinar we explored the dispersed workplace and asked what it means to support employees all over the world.
Reward and Recognition for the International Workforce

Streamlining Year-End HR Operations

Providing seasonal support, ideas and inspiration, this webinar covered the challenges and opportunities presented to HR professionals at this time of year.
Streamlining year-end HR operations

The HR World Autumn/Winter Networking Drinks 2023

At this exclusive evening senior HR leaders were able to meet their contemporaries, talk to other HR thought leaders and experts and access The HR World’s unique network of game-changers and decision-makers.

Compensation Planning – The key to a motivated and satisfied workforce

Compensation and reward strategies have changed radically over the past few years with the impact of the pandemic and the trends that followed.
Compensation Planning - The key to a motivated and satisfied workforce

Oct 2023 – Talent Acquisition: Why your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is more important than ever

This webinar addressing talent acquisition majored on the Employee Value Proposition (EVP).
Talent Acquisition – Why your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is more important than ever

Resourcing Models, Insource, Outsource or Hybrid what are the best solutions?

Discussions on the evening were led by two invited experts Jim Richardson, with spells at Santander and Royal Bank of Scotland as Global Head of Talent, Jim now advises corporate businesses on their TA models, and, Ross Crook, Managing Director at Sanderson Solutions.
Resourcing models round table

Sep 2023 – Retention: Holding on to The Talent You Need

The post-pandemic workforce now presents more of a challenge in terms of feeling satisfied and content in the workplace. This webinar on retention also provided a masterclass on employee engagement.
Retention holding on to the talent you need

Aug 2023 – Professional Development: Making the Step Up

What does it take to be an HR Director, or to take a position at Board level? This webinar looked at professional development for HR leaders.
What does it take to be an HR Director?

Jul 2023 – Employee Benefits: Then, now and next

The importance and value of giving employees choice on rewards and recognition.
Employee benefits, then now and next.

Jun 2023 – HR Data: The Key To Delivering Real Value

This webinar on HR Data brought home the importance of understanding the value of people data not just to HR but to the business as a whole.
HR on demand event - HR data: the key to delivering real value

RPO Market – Insource, Outsource or Hybrid: What are the best solutions?

The HR World and Sanderson Managed Services Ltd held an exclusive Round Table dinner to explore and debate the current RPO arena.

AI as part of the hiring, on-boarding and retention processes

The HR World and Sanderson Managed Services Ltd held an exclusive Round Table dinner to further the discussion of AI among Senior HR Leaders.

May 2023 – AI in HR: The Perfect Balance

AI is hitting the headlines right now as experts forecast a future that’s powered by tech. But what will this mean for HR?
On demand hr webinar - Ai in HR

Apr 2023 – HR Tech: Ensuring your technology delivers for all your people

Technology continues to throw challenges at the HR function as the speed of change increases and new technology (anyone noticed something called AI?) enters the arena.
HR tech on demand webinar with Sympa

Mar 2023 – Equality, diversity, and inclusion: Reshaping thinking for action

In this webinar we explored how ED&I can have a real impact for businesses. At the centre of the discussion was the idea of changing thinking in order to make things happen.
Equality, diversity, and inclusion: Reshaping thinking for action

Feb 2023 – Leading With Agility: How to give your business the behaviours and mindsets it needs for volatile times

This webinar took as its focus agility and how businesses can develop and maintain these skills among its workforce.
This webinar took as its focus agility and how businesses can develop and maintain these skills among its workforce.

Jan 2023 – How can you create a culture of health and wellbeing in the workplace?

This webinar tackled the important and timely issue of creating a health and wellbeing culture in the workplace.
How can you create a culture of health and wellbeing in the workplace?

Bridging the gap: what can employers learn about emerging talent to drive better hiring strategies?

Join us at this cross-learning, in-person event as part of The HR World Culture Clash series, bringing HRDs, founders and emerging talent together to build a better workforce for the future.
Bridging the gap: what can employers learn about emerging talent to drive better hiring strategies?
HRW Membership@2x@2x

Are you a senior HR professional?

Join our membership to shape the future of work, get exclusive access to events, white papers and research content, profile your work, gain access to support from HR experts and celebrate your successes.

Become a Partner

Please get in touch to talk about how we can help your business make an impact in the world of work through our content marketing, partnership plans and advertising.