The definition of a “people-oriented company” is one that cares about their employees and is invested in their success. The individual is respected, valued and empowered.

Focusing on people makes good business sense. In the increasingly competitive landscape of goods and services, a company’s people are the differentiator. And companies aren’t just in competition for customer dollars. Even in tight job markets, skilled and high-performing employees have many options. Great company culture helps organizations stand out to attract—and keep—top talent.

Here are five characteristics of people-oriented companies.

1. Good Work Is Recognized and Rewarded

People-oriented companies recognize that achievements deserve to be acknowledged and rewarded. This may take the form of bonuses, perks like extra vacation time, awards, and even simple actions such as a heartfelt “thank you” or small gift. Incentive programs can be beneficial in motivating employees to meet specific goals.

There is an understanding in people-oriented organizations that employees are individuals, and as such don’t respond to recognition and reward in the same way. Some employees love being in the spotlight at a company awards ceremony, while others are uncomfortable with public praise and would be far happier with a private note of thanks. While some are motivated by monetary reward, others are motivated primarily by appreciation and knowing they are part of the company’s success.

2. Employees Are Seen and Treated as Valued Partners

People-oriented companies recognize that all employees, no matter how “big” or “small” their role, are vital contributors to the success of the company and its brand. Employees are treated accordingly, as valued partners. There is a culture of mutual respect.

What does this look like in practice? Employees are listened to by leadership, their input sought, and their feedback acted upon. This might take the form of “town hall” style meetings, inclusive brainstorming sessions, or one-on-one conversations. Profit-sharing options give employees a chance to literally invest in the company’s success.

Employees who know themselves to be valued partners have a vested interest in the success of their projects, and are willing to go the extra mile. They feel appreciated and needed, which can result in lower turnover. And by listening to and seeking input from all employees, companies can discover new ideas from sometimes unexpected sources.

3. Investment in Employee Success and Growth

People-oriented businesses make employee success and growth a central priority. In the employee’s current role, that includes providing the tools, training and support needed to succeed. There is an understanding that the needs of each employee are unique—some may need more direction to feel supported, for example, while others thrive if they are given more autonomy.

This works on the principle that an employee’s career success and the success of the company go hand in hand. Discussions with employees about their career path and promotions from within give employees incentive to stay with the company and continually grow. Internal and external training, industry conferences, and college tuition reimbursement not only equip employees with valuable skills, but send the message that they are valued.

4. Employees Are Valuable as People, Not Just as Employees

People-oriented companies understand that employees have a life and priorities outside of work. This may be reflected in benefits such as paid parental and family leave, allowing for flexible working hours, onsite daycare, or efforts to limit excessive overtime.

Attention is paid to the employee as a whole person. Wellness programs, gym memberships, massage, and yoga classes help employees feel better and reduce stress. These perks also help companies stand out in recruiting and retaining top talent.

Programs like these benefit the company along with the employees. It only stands to reason that employees who feel good and are less stressed will be more productive and perform better.

5. Service Is Key

Employees are not the only individuals of focus in a people-oriented company. Customer service is of the utmost priority. The two are seen as inextricably linked—when employees are happy and take pride in their jobs, they naturally want to make their clients and customers happy. It motivates and energizes them.

Service can extend into the community as well. Company-sponsored community service projects, volunteer opportunities, and paid time off or flex time for volunteering encourage employees to extend their attitude of service.

Looking for More on Workplace Culture?

Our Great Ideas blog has plenty of articles on creating a people-oriented company culture, improving communication, building employee relationships and more.