3 Ways to Create a More Human Workplace
There’s a lot going on in the world right now. Organizations are looking for ways to support and retain their employees. To help HR and senior leaders gain a deeper understanding of how to better cater to core human needs, Workhuman recently released a research report on “The State of Humanity”. The report covers workplace topics such as safety, fair pay, work-life harmony, growth, inclusion and belonging, and recognition.
One data point that I found interesting was 21% of workers are looking for a new opportunity. Keep in mind that this report was created a few weeks ago when the unemployment rate was significantly lower, and organizations were having tremendous difficultly finding qualified candidates. Obviously, organizations want to address it by finding ways to support and retain employees. The question is how?
That brings me to the second part of the Workhuman report. Of the 21% looking for new opportunities,
- 33% say they’ve been sexually harassed at work (more than 2x higher than the survey average),
- 73% have experienced burnout, and
- 42% don’t trust HR.
Organizations have some work to do and the answer is more than just a policy or program. It’s about creating a more human workplace.
3 Key Drivers for Creating a More Human Workforce
In thinking about the report and what it takes to create a more human workplace, I was drawn to three business books I’ve recently read. The books focused on the concepts of purpose, autonomy, and engagement.
Driver #1 – Purpose. In Priya Parker’s book, “The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters”, she talks about the different types of gatherings that take place in business. For example, gatherings to exchange information, solve problems, and make decisions.
I understand that right now we aren’t super focused on gatherings. But virtual meetings are still a type of gathering. And some people might say, “Oh, it’s just a meeting.” and even “Virtual meetings are never very good.” But that’s exactly my takeaway from Parkers’ book. If we want more human workplaces, then we need better gatherings – both in person and virtually – that align with our organizational purpose. Because there’s a direct connection between purpose, organizational goals, and employee performance.
Driver #2 – Autonomy. Dan Pink writes in “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” that there are three qualities in high-performing organizations: purpose, mastery, and autonomy. Purpose is about alignment with the organization. And mastery is having the tools to be successful.
But to me, the final quality – autonomy – is the hard one. It’s also especially important because it helps the organization achieve its strategic goals. Employees can become autonomous when they know the company’s purpose, they have the tools to do their job well, and they are given the ability to make things happen. Autonomy is the quality that sets high performing organizations apart from simply performing.
Driver #3 – Engagement. In the book “The Power of Moments”, co-author Dan Heath shares that moments are the key to helping employees and organizations reach their goals. Not just the celebratory moment when the goal is accomplished but all of the smaller moments (aka milestones or micro-victories) that happen along the way.
When organizations celebrate moments, they allow employees to see how far they’ve come and give them the motivation to do more. Organizations that create more moments ultimately create organizational momentum. And it’s that momentum that helps companies reach their goals, which benefits the bottom-line.
A Human Workplace Promotes Purpose, Autonomy, and Engagement
I like to think about these three drivers – purpose, autonomy, and engagement – like a three-legged stool. We need all of them to create a more human workplace. And we want them in a certain level of balance. Regardless of what’s happening in the business world, organizations need the best talent to meet their goals. That not only means hiring the best but keeping them.
It means creating a human workplace where employees understand their purpose, feel empowered to get the job done, and are excited about the future. We know you have a lot on your plate right now. Bookmark this page or download the report to learn more about “The State of Humanity”. I’m already hearing organizations talk about putting plans in place for when employees will be returning to work. Having a more human workplace should be a part of those plans.