people meeting PE058

An Opportunity for Change through People Management

Great people management could hold the key to shaping a human era of work.

We have heard countless times before–the world of work is being reset and we have an opportunity to build something more engaging and sustainable than before. Organizations are being held to account for outcomes beyond profits and growth, and this means leaders and HR are having to rethink how the core mechanics of their businesses operate.

What are we trying to achieve?

Individuals have spoken, loud and clear. Priorities for work are now multi-faceted, and people are willing to take more personal risks to seek employers offering what is most important to them:

  • Autonomy, balance, and well-being: Increasing levels of burnout and well-being issues, combined with a taste of more flexible approaches to work, as well as an aging population, are all factors that have made this a priority for many.
  • A sense of belonging: Over half of the UK workforce does not feel a sense of belonging in the workplace. Employees who feel they belong have a 50% lower turnover risk and 56% better overall job performance.
  • A fair and inclusive culture: Catapulted up the list of non-negotiables for so many, and across multiple lenses, this is well-reported to enable broader outcomes.
  • Meaningful work: The rise in desire for purpose-driven work and having an impact on the world has been well-documented.
  • Ongoing learning and growth: Career development continues to be a key motivator for people at work and has grown in urgency as LinkedIn data revealed employees who move into new jobs internally are 3.5x more likely to be engaged than those who stay in their current jobs. As soon as a new hire joins, the clock starts ticking!

Organizations must improve their employer value proposition

To attract, retain, develop, and mobilize diverse and talented people, organizations have to evolve their employee value propositions or risk being left behind. In a technology-enabled, global, and dispersed workforce, choice is plentiful. Designing work, roles, cultures, learning opportunities, and compelling career paths to meet the needs of our context and employee expectations must be central to every company’s growth strategy.

Employees who feel they belong have a 50% lower turnover risk and 56% better overall job performance.

Managers hold the key to bringing work to life

The glue binding people and businesses together is squashed in the middle–the people managers. But they have a crucial role to play in creating, translating, and personalizing the experiences of employees; ensuring that individuals’ multi-faceted priorities are met. In short, they bring to life everyday experiences of work. Yet, they are increasingly on the sharp edge of constant change, ambiguity, and complexity.

The goals and objectives of managing others are fast becoming much more holistic. Great people management can drive more than productivity. Links are increasingly seen between those leading teams of people and outcomes such as mental health and well-being, levels of engagement, experiences of inclusive and trust-based cultures (psychological safety is a key component), as well as individual feelings of happiness and contentment. An organization’s readiness for the future, through skill development and talent mobilization, as well as its capability to accelerate changes following mergers, acquisitions, new regulations, or time-limited opportunities to drive growth, also depend upon people managers to make this possible.


Did you know?
A manager can account for 70% of variance in engagement scores and, in addition to meaningful work and career progression, employees cite having an uncaring manager as the top reason for leaving jobs


People management for a human era

Managing teams in today’s work environment requires enabling, empowering, and connecting others so that individuals are future-ready and able to move to different jobs, teams, and projects, to maximize their growth and impact on the business’s success.

Using our science-led understanding of people at work, we at SHL have captured the behaviors critical to success in people management roles today. Drawing upon the latest research, we have categorized this by 3 main outcomes:

  1. Building a human culture - Built on trust and two-way adult-adult relationships. Valuing transparency, inclusion, and empathy.
  2. Enabling meaningful work - Creating connection through meaningful work. Striking the optimal balance - People, Purpose, Profit.
  3. Becoming agile & insight-led - Nimble and ready for constant re-alignment to optimize business opportunity & individual potential.

The skills and behaviors needed for success in people management historically will not enable success today. Organizations must move fast to support, develop, and empower this group to enable business longevity. With the right people and skills, equipped with the best tools and support to develop and grow, managers can help organizations bring a new, more fulfilling, and durable world of work into reality.

Read more on the skills required for achieving these outcomes, and 6 steps to identifying great managers in SHL’s latest releases.

headshot sarah mclellan


Sarah McLellan

Sarah is a business psychologist who spends her days seeking to understand and optimize the power of people to help individuals and organizations flourish. As Director of European Professional Services at SHL, she’s responsible for an international team who design talent solutions to help solve business challenges for hundreds of companies around the world. Sarah has been partnering with organizations for over 15 years, consulting across talent acquisition and talent management. She is passionate about optimizing the role people science can play in shaping the future of work.

headshot edward rivlin


Ed Rivlin

Ed is a chartered occupational psychologist with almost 20 years of experience helping international organizations improve talent decisions using people science. He has particular focus on balancing both established and newer research to find pragmatic solutions that can improve clients’ talent strategies throughout the employee lifecycle. As a leader of a European Professional Services team, he has seen the value of talent assessments in improving business performance and is passionate about sharing this with both team members and clients.

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