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3 essentials to building the human workplace

27th Jan 2022
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During the pandemic, digital transformation of the workplace was an urgent necessity. But as we’ve swiftly adjusted to virtualised ways of working, it’s now the need for a Human Workplace that is taking centre stage.

What is a Human Workplace? It’s a new paradigm of work that leverages the power of human connection to build resilient, high-performing teams that thrive in the hybrid workplace and beyond. Instead of focusing on how to get the best out of employees, the Human Workplace enables and inspires employees to give their best.

Sceptics who are unfamiliar with the Human Workplace may question whether it’s an intangible concept, without real benefits. In fact, building a Human Workplace has a concrete, measurable impact on an organisation, from metrics like recruitment, retention and employee engagement, to employee experience and aligning employees to organisational goals.

Here are three key steps to creating a Human Workplace that enables HR to meet its goals.

1. Embrace DE&I

A truly Human Workplace has diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) at its core. As Jen Reimert, VP, solutions consulting, Workhuman explains, “Promoting and highlighting DE&I efforts helps employees feel safe, respected, and more connected, which can lead to a stronger sense of community and increased productivity. This drives happier, more engaged humans, which is paramount right now.” Likewise, given the Great Resignation currently facing employers, and the resulting talent shortage, being an organisation that is fully committed to DE&I is a key consideration for many candidates today.

A diverse workplace allows for different ideas and perspectives, and in a Human Workplace, the voice and contributions of every employee are recognised, enabling previously overlooked groups to shine. By fostering a culture of recognition, organisations can ensure people feel seen, celebrated, and appreciated for who they are and what they do.

2. Double-down on feedback and communication

A Human Workplace nurtures two-way feedback throughout the organisation. When coaching and feedback is celebrated, whether from managers, teams or peers, people can benefit from real-time performance feedback that is instructive and constructive.

What’s more, by utilising a continuous performance management model within the organisation, HR can foster a workplace that makes it easier for every employee to support, mentor, and reward one another.

A Human Workplace, grounded in gratitude and acknowledgement, “improves performance, deepens relationships, drives engagement, ties together geographically dispersed teams, inspires better work, and builds trust in your brand,” explain ‘Making Work Human’ authors Eric Mosley, CEO, Workhuman and Derek Irvine, Workhuman SVP strategy and consulting.

3. Champion your company culture

While a company’s culture is made up of all the beliefs and behaviours of everyone in the organisation, HR has a central role to play in shaping what that culture looks like. “Culture is the soul of the organisation and HR leaders are there to instil faith in the company by embedding ethics-driven values and rallying the workforce around a shared vision and mission,” observes Egon Zehnder.

A formalised recognition programme that is values-based is an effective way for HR to help align the entire organisation to a shared purpose and vision, and integrate those ideals into everyone’s day-to-day. As Susan Snelling, head of global reward operations, bp, explains, “With safety as one of our core values, [our programme] allows our employees to recognise each other for their contribution to safe operations. We can use this to reinforce these great behaviours.”

Conclusion

In the Harvard Business Review, Michael O’Malley, Ph.D. notes that, “[a]lmost all of the corporate founders and CEOs we spoke with told us that they built their companies with people in mind…To them, a healthy culture is as important as a healthy balance sheet.” 

These business leaders understand that having an engaged, energised, and motivated workforce is fundamental to achieving a business’s top priorities, whether that’s employee productivity and retention, or greater customer loyalty, sales, and profits. 

Building a Human Workplace creates an environment where social connection, diversity, individual empowerment, community, belonging, and a sense of meaning can flourish, allowing both people and the business to prosper.

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