In today’s competitive marketplace, employers have to play to win. One of the most effective winning strategies is your People Strategy. With 2013 just around the corner, you may already be in the process of defining budgets and strategic objectives for the coming year. But, if your company is defining strategic objectives without addressing your employees’ ability and desire to achieve them, you are placing your organization’s goals in jeopardy and will likely not reach your desired destination. Including a People Strategy places focus on your company’s most critical variable—its employees.

What should be considered in a People Strategy?

1. Employee Engagement is the measure of your employees’ emotional commitment to their work and your company. Engaged employees choose to go beyond what is expected and required of them, which contributes greater value to your organization. A recent Forbes article described an Engagement-Profit Chain where engaged employees offer their “discretionary” effort to lead their organizations to higher service, quality and productivity. This is shown to lead to higher customer satisfaction, which leads to increased sales, which leads to higher levels of profit, which leads to higher shareholder returns.

2. Leadership is the single, biggest contributor to employee engagement, performance and retention. From first level supervisors to c-level executives, members of management possess the greatest opportunity to influence culture, align employee performance with business objectives, attract and retain talent. Training and measuring your management team on these key areas translates to adding value exponentially.

3. Employee Development is key to ensuring employees are equipped to deliver on job requirements and performance objectives. Creating opportunities for employees to be challenged and advance their career contributes to employee engagement and retention and positions your organization for growth.

4. Company Culture is perceived as important to business success by 94% of leaders and 88% of employees. Yet, only 19% of leaders and 15% of employees strongly believe their culture is upheld by their organization (“Culture in the Workplace” 2012 report by Deloitte). Every company has a culture, but great companies have taken deliberate steps to create a culture that contributes to attracting talent, increasing employee engagement, and retaining top performers.

5. Organizational Development positions your company to effectively respond to changes such as significant growth or downsizing, product/service additions, market changes, key contributor retirements, leadership and ownership changes, acquisitions and mergers. Anticipating and flourishing through these phases can be a game changer for organizations. This requires first recognizing the impact of these changes to your workforce and then committing to the planning, communication and tenacity necessary to successfully navigate through change.