3 steps to a successful people strategy

Everything you need to know about developing a people strategy

People make companies - we are one hundred percent convinced of this. Putting employees at the center is not only important for the further development of a company, but is also one of the foundations for corporate success. "People make companies" is basically another name for "People Strategy".

What is a people strategy?

A good people strategy is a framework, a vision, and a set of goals with specific actions that revolve around employees. Among other things, it is about fostering engagement and retention, identifying needed competencies, and attracting new talent. Above all, however, it is about shaping an appreciative and positive corporate culture. With a result that impacts productivity: People who feel seen and valued, and enjoy working in a company are proven to work better. 

A successful people strategy is closely linked to the business strategy. It's also clear that if people and business goals are moving in different directions, it can only end in a costant back and forth. There has to be a large overlap so that everyone is looking in the same direction.

Why do I need a human resources strategy?

A human resources strategy fulfills various concrete benefits from different perspectives. First, there is the people team, which leads the development of the HR strategy. The strategy is where everything is tied together. The people team applies the measures of the people strategy at all stages of the Employee Lifecycle (e.g. development, retention) - for example, in terms of strengthening employee loyalty, increasing productivity or reducing fluctuation. The HR team oversees the People Strategy objectives, measures the success of the activities and makes adjustments. 

For the employees of a company, the positive working environment is the central element within the People Strategy. A good People Strategy includes development opportunities for the entire team. Employees set goals together with their managers and benefit from further training opportunities or career paths. A good People Strategy also has a direct impact on the employees in terms of corporate culture, because a major point is the creation of a positive, respectful and appreciative atmosphere. 

For the company, a successful People Strategy can act as an enabler for achieving or exceeding the targeted business objectives. The likelihood of this happening increases when the employees:s enjoy working for the company, are engaged and have all the necessary skills.

OK, understood. The only question is, "How do I develop a good People Strategy?" How fortunate that you found this blog article.

The 3 steps to a successful People Strategy

Step 1: Where do you stand? (Analysis)

Before developing anything, you should look around: Where is the company right now? Imagine a long-distance run: Nobody runs without a plan. So go ahead: Collect data about the current personnel situation (quantitative data collection). The more knowledge you gather, the better your foundation for developing a successful People Strategy. Here are a few ideas:

  • How many employees are in the company?
  • What skills and competences does the team cover?
  • Are there signs of overload in the company (e.g., increased sick days, high turnover rate, team conflicts)?

Now comes analysis step number two: What about the strengths and weaknesses of the personnel situation, its opportunities and risks? You don't evaluate these on the basis of gut feeling, but with the help of employee interviews, anonymous surveys or feedback forms, or discussions with managers (qualitative data collection). Again, here are a few suggestions:

  • Where does the cooperation within or between the teams succeed - where are there problems?
  • Which teams see a need for support in a certain field?
  • How comfortable do the employees feel in the company?

Step 2: Where do you want to go? (Formulate vision, derive measures)

Now it's time to set the company's goals. Compare these goals with what you know about the company's personnel situation: Are there enough employees on board to achieve the goals? Are there the necessary skills, competencies and motivation in the workforce? Are the necessary team structures in place for ambitious projects and goals? And if not: What is needed? 

By answering questions like these, the gap between the status quo and the envisioned outcome is revealed. Together with the results from the quantitative and qualitative data collection, goals for the HR strategy and related measures to attain them can be developed.. Examples are such as this one:

VisonExamples of measure
Expand/develop competencies- enable further training

- Adapt talent acquisition to the company situation
Reduce sick days- Investigate psychological stress through internal surveys or discussions

- Expand company health management Sponsor memberships in sports courses 
Increase employee satisfaction- Conduct team-building events

- Introduce flexible working (time) models

- Create individually tailored added value
Improve corporate communications- Review and, if necessary, expand or streamline communication channels

A workshop format in which management, executives and the team can also participate is suitable for creating a vision and deriving suitable measures.

When deriving suitable measures, it is important to look not only at the current situation, but also at the short-, medium- and long-term future, for example:

  • What will employees need / will the company need in a few months? 
  • What challenges might the employees / the company face? 
  • How will the labor market or the demand for skilled workers develop?

Here it is important to formulate hypotheses and develop corresponding solutions. In this way, the company remains flexible and can react to potential problems at an early stage.

Once all goals and measures are on the table, develop an "action plan". This contains the respective procedure with its identified steps including time schedule, responsibilities and controlling.

Step 3: And action!

Now it's time to implement the People Strategy. One of the most important points now is communication. The best people strategy will not be successful if the team does not understand it and therefore does not follow it. Good communication can be achieved, for example, through storytelling (conveying content in narrative form, for example, by means of short stories or examples) and a visualization of the strategy, including vision, goals, measures and responsibilities. 

Also communicate that the People Strategy is flexible and "lives" from the ideas and feedback of the team. It is important that the goals and measures are made understandable and transparent. Explanations and justifications must not be missing. Here, I like to fall back on the W-questions, which are helpful as always: What are we doing? Who is in the lead? Why are we doing this? What goal are we pursuing? What do you get out of it?

The way is the goal: Keeping the People Strategy up to date

To keep your people strategy up to date, you should check it at regular intervals and make adjustments as necessary. To do this, you check predefined key figures to see whether set goals have been achieved and conduct surveys among stakeholders and the workforce. 

You also monitor external developments, for example, on the labor market and other areas that are important for your company field. Make sure that people strategy and business strategy continue to work together like well-coordinated synchronized swimmers.

A People Strategy doesn't have to be perfect from the start. The key is to test measures. If they don't work: Get rid of them! It's no big deal if you find that something isn't having the desired effect. Then try something new. Always remain open to feedback and completely innovative ideas. What may sound crazy today may be the reason why employees appreciate your company tomorrow.


  • A People Strategy contains measures for retaining, promoting and developing employees.

  • A People Strategy is a roadmap for creating and developing a positive and appreciative corporate culture.
  • A People Strategy is flexible. It receives updates by regularly reviewing the success of the measures and by collecting feedback from employees on their work experience.



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