In 2017, Big Sea was recognized as one of six company finalists for the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s inaugural People First Award. This is the first human resource award of its kind, recognizing that talent and people expertise not only deserves recognition, but is also critical to business strategy.

Tampa Bay Business Journal People First Awards

Aligning people strategy with business strategy has become increasingly common among businesses of all sizes. More and more, you’ll find HR with C-suite level representation and for good reason — attracting top talent is one of the biggest challenges for businesses today. You are never too small or big to operate with a people-first mentality. So much so that taglines are starting to include the soon-to-be-overused term.

People-first looks good in Tampa Bay

Big Sea was proud to be listed as a finalist, among some pretty intimidating talent. There was a healthy mix of industries, including accounting, healthcare, marketing, higher education, business services, and insurance.

In a room full of large company HR pros, we found ourselves surrounded by kindred spirits, talking about the people-first policies that make all of our companies go round. We were inspired by the efforts our fellow finalists put into positive work environments, inclusivity, and professional and personal development opportunities. Based on their commitments to their people, I’m sure there is some big innovation and industry-leading service happening in those companies.

A bit of social science about people first

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, written in 1943, still rings true for us. If you’ve taken any People Development, HR or Psych course, you’ve heard of Maslow. If you’re thinking about how to make your company a bit more people-first, start with a Google gander at the Maslow pyramid and ask yourself how your company’s culture and policies approach the core sources of motivation.

Is your company a place where your team can fulfill their potential and feel connected to their team?

Going people-first is an evolving consideration, as your company goes through its growth stages and has the ability to be ever more competitive. That said, you don’t need big budgets to get your people-first on.

Want to learn more about how your employer brand affects your business? Check out, The Rise of Employer Branding in a Talent Hungry World

Big Sea’s people-first principles

Fulfillment. We’re all about what fits for our team. That means culture, clients and projects that inspire and energize us to ideate and create with fervor.

Core Values. We live by them. They promote a positive work culture and provide us all the ability to grow by being good to each other and our clients. Every year our team votes on who has embodied each of the Core Values the most. It’s a stiff, but friendly, competition.

Professional development. From in-house lunch and learns, hosting and attending local dev and design meetups, to conferences like Inbound, we are all about skill sharing.

Connection. We’re one connected team committed to elevating each other’s work and happiness. We have collaborative breakout spaces, Ship It Days, and Fun Fridays. We team up as LunchPal mentors, and attend communication workshops together.

Inclusivity. Big Sea people are all about people — all people. We’re registered with the St. Pete Police as a safe place because we want to be clear that we foster inclusion. We accept you.

Transparency. We work to be open and honest and to provide clarity. We’re open and honest with clients, and with each other, even when it’s uncomfortable.

The basics. Benefits, work from home, and being open to basic flexibility needs to keep life in a groove state and to have the headspace to do amazing work.

Perhaps it’s because we are a relatively small team (23 so far), but for us, there really is no other way than people first. As we grow, our intention is to always be a people-first company. We are not a robot-driven profession, just yet. We expect a lot from our people in terms of bringing their best selves to the office, delivering quality and originality. In turn, it’s fair for them to expect a corporate culture that puts them first.