People strategy for now and the future – how to close gaps

Planning for a best People Strategy is essential. Your business strategy amounts to no more than words on a page if you don’t have “the right people in the rights seats on the bus”.

All elements of your employee life cycle must be linked: 

  • from attraction through to talent management, 
  • leadership development, and 
  • ongoing performance management. 

There is a great reward too in doing this. Studies tell us that organisations that prioritise their employee experience are four times more profitable than those who do not.

People Strategy v HR Strategy – what’s the difference?

HR Strategy tends to focus more on the planning side of people such as structures for hiring, onboarding, developing, and retaining. 

People Strategy is more about helping employees to grow, by creating an environment that nurtures and enables high performance. People Strategy usually focuses on: 

  • values, 
  • fostering diversity, 
  • inclusion and employee wellbeing, and 
  • predicting and reacting to workforce needs. 

In essence, creating a culture where employees share equal billing with shareholders and business goals.

According to the world-renowned Boston Consulting Group, the three pillars for developing a people strategy are leadership and culture, talent and skills, and HR


In these challenging times, organisations must elevate the most important asset they have: their people. By focusing on the fundamentals of people strategy—leadership, culture, talent, reskilling, and HR—companies can emerge stronger, more agile, more innovative, and better able to respond to an ever-changing environment.”


I’d like to explore two of these pillars.

Leadership Culture and Strategy

There are many levers at a leader’s disposal to drive their organisations success and effectiveness.  Strategy and Culture are the most important. 

Strategy provides clarity of the company’s goals and helps to align people around them. Culture tends to express goals through organisational values and beliefs. Culture also guides tactics, activity, and implementation.

One thing is sure and that is culture and leadership are linked. Poor leadership and resultant toxic culture usually determine the fate of a business. Studies tell us up to 30% of employees say they left because of poor leadership. These findings highlight the need for every organisation to address this factor.

Culture in more detail

Culture is a more puzzling lever to activate. The reason for this is mainly because Culture can be ambiguous and embedded in unspoken behaviours, people’s mindsets, and social expectations.

Many leaders don’t always appreciate the power of culture. 


A recent Gartner Survey revealed that 75% of leadership believe that they run a culture of flexibility. Unfortunately, only 57% of employees agreed. 


This lack of appreciation can cause many leaders to either let culture go unmanaged or delegate it to HR, where it can slip to a secondary focus for the business. 

Successful leaders embrace the ambiguity of culture. In my experience many leaders I have met avail of the valuable culture diagnostic tools to understand where their orgnaisations culture is right now. These tools help them to answer questions such as: 

  • Is it more of a creative culture or a reactive culture? 
  • How do the culture snapshot of the board and senior leadership vary from the operational managers’ perspectives? 
  • How “real” is the conversation in the business?

Gaining clarity around culture can be as confronting as it is enlightening – but well worth the investment of time and focus. We partner with many specialists in this area, so reach out if you’d like to explore further.

Talent and skills

Sixty-four per cent of the world’s most admired companies say they have a good understanding of workforce needs two or more years into the future compared to 54% of their peers. 


That same recent Gartner Survey I referred to earlier also revealed the same 75% of leadership also felt that they did a good job incorporating employee voice in decision making. Unfortunately, in this case only 47% of employees agreed. 


The forced extreme disruption, which was the last two years, has meant that most businesses naturally thought more about survival than future talent and skills needs. Now is the time to think about your future talent and skills requirements. Some steps to take include:

  • Ensure Employee Pulse Surveys acknowledge and act on the feedback provided
  • Use customised psychometric assessments to identify traits and skills gaps
  • Incorporate customised 360° surveys as part of your development programs
  • Facilitate regular check-ins between individuals’ teams and managers

Lastly, lockdown work from home is different from long-term working remotely. Most organisation psychologists accept that loneliness, communication, and isolation can trigger depression. 

So, if there is a disconnect in your business between HR policies, the leadership strategies propelling them, and employee sentiment on the ground, greater emphasis must be placed on the needs this new work approach demands. 

For example, consider what capabilities and skills (soft and hard) are essential to be future-ready? Do all employees possess the discipline, conscientiousness, and results orientation to deliver in a hybrid environment? What might this mean for remote work and the flexibility we can offer? 

Through our business offering, we have many people analytics resources and tools to assist with both these pillars. Reach out if you’d like to discuss how we can help with the future of your people.