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What is Employee-Centric Leadership? Why is it Trending?


“Employees who strongly feel connected to their organization’s culture are 3.7 times more likely to be engaged at work, 68% less likely to feel burned out and 55% less likely to seek another job.” – Gallup Research.


Grounded in the belief that the welfare of employees is tied to productivity and results, employee-centric leadership prioritizes staff needs, well-being, and professional development – that’s its appeal.

As companies deal with high employee turnover and participate in competitive labor markets for talent, adopting an employee-first approach to managing people is becoming more attractive to employers.

This article explores employee-centric leadership, and why it’s trending with employers and the people they manage.

Employee-Centric Leadership Defined.

Employee-centric leadership is a leadership style that prioritizes employees’ well-being and autonomy, facilitating open communication and support within the organization.

The style emphasizes valuing employees as critical assets, involving them in decision-making, and recognizing their contributions.

Employee-centric leaders aim to create a positive workplace culture that enhances engagement, productivity, and organizational success. 

“Employee-centric leaders promote and support continuous learning and intellectual curiosity as part of an individual’s ongoing development. They understand and view it as a means to help individuals faster adapt to change, be agile, and take on new challenges.” – Michelle Bennett. 

When Should Organizations Encourage Employee-Centric Leadership?

Organizations should encourage employee-centric leadership when employee engagement, retention, and satisfaction lag.

Employee-centric employers are especially attractive to talent during competitive job markets such as the Great Resignation.

Embracing employee-centricity optimizes performance, drives innovation, and promotes a sense of organizational synergy. 

What Characteristics Do Employee-Centric Leaders Have?

Communicate with Transparency

Employee-centric leaders prioritize open and honest communication with their teams, sharing information freely and regularly. They understand that transparency builds trust, reduces uncertainty, and empowers employees to make informed decisions. 

Empower and Trust Team Members

These leaders empower their teams by delegating authority, encouraging autonomy, and trusting employees to make decisions. They recognize that trust builds confidence, encourages ownership, and accountability. 

Recognize and Appreciate Performance

Employee-centric leaders actively acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of their team members. They understand that employee recognition improves employee morale, motivation, and team synergy. 

Encourage Development and Growth Opportunities

Employee-centric leaders prioritize their employees’ professional development and growth, providing opportunities for learning, skill-building, and career advancement. They recognize that investing in employee development strengthens the team, enhances retention, and fosters loyalty. 

Takes an interest in Employee Well-being

Employee-centric leaders prioritize the well-being and support of their team members, both personally and professionally. They demonstrate empathy, offer resources for work-life balance, and provide support during challenging times, fostering a culture of care, resilience, and mutual respect.

Characteristics Do Employee-Centric Leaders

“Establishing and maintaining an employee-first focus in your business may sound counterintuitive, but a litany of research has demonstrated why it is not only the right thing to do for the humans in your organization but also the right thing to do for the bottom line.” – Jonathan H. Westover. 

Five Companies that Promote Employee-Centric Leadership

Microsoft Corp.

Microsoft facilitates a strong sense of community through effective internal communication across all departments.

For instance, Microsoft incorporates a “CEO Connection” page into their internal communications plan, allowing employees to network with staff and leaders.

Additionally, they promote professional development by recognizing and celebrating employees who showcase a growth mindset through videos and other means. 

Alphabet Inc. (Google)

Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, prioritizes employee engagement by offering unique compensation and benefits beyond competitive salaries.

For example, Google has  introduced a transferable stock option program for employees in 2006, demonstrating a commitment to rewarding employee loyalty and innovation.

In Addition, their famous 20% creative time and 80% work program encourages employees to take autonomy and pride in their work, leading to groundbreaking innovations like Google Adsense. 

Salesforce Inc.

Salesforce engages employees by offering competitive benefits and work perks tied to the company’s overarching values and sense of responsibility to their local communities.

The company provides paid volunteer time and a competitive matching policy for charitable contributions, empowering employees to make a positive impact outside of work.

Moreover, salesforce facilitates diversity and inclusion through employee-led Equality Groups centered on common backgrounds, identities, or interests. 


Mastercard emphasizes diversity and inclusion as key drivers of employee engagement, backed by extensive employee training and continuous feedback mechanisms.

The company prioritizes creating an inclusive work environment where all voices are heard and valued, promoting innovation and better business results.

Mastercard has also adapted to flexible work arrangements, allowing employees to work remotely until they feel comfortable returning to the office. 


Apple cultivates a culture of collaboration and teamwork, reflected in its open office design and fluid company hierarchies

For instance, the company encourages employees to take risks and see failure as a step toward success, promoting autonomy and innovation in the workplace.

And, Apple offers competitive benefits and compensation, including free stock shares and wellness options like in-house fitness centers, prioritizing the holistic well-being of employees. 


“Leaders are the frontline when it comes to fostering belonging for individuals and creating this environment in their teams. It’s been found that when individuals feel like they belong, it can lead to a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% reduction in turnover risk, and a 75% reduction in sick days, making it a worthwhile pursuit for everyone involved.” – Michelle Bennet.


Companies that create inclusive work environments, champion continuous learning, and recognize the humanity within the workforce, such as Microsoft, Alphabet Inc., Salesforce, Mastercard, and Apple, have set benchmarks for putting employees first.

Organizations that develop employee-centric leaders prioritize people-first principles and are often rewarded with increased loyalty, higher productivity, and a surge in creativity that drives innovation.

As leaders, embracing these practices encourages sustainable and competitive advantages that empower individuals and companies to thrive in a dynamic global marketplace.

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