I have been part of a robust international network of people focused on humanity in the workplace for quite some time. I recently started to have conversations with people from different backgrounds by asking them about what would need to change in their organizations to make their work experience more enjoyable and fulfilling. I also asked them how they would describe their ideal work day.
The insights people have shared with me have been both thought-provoking and consistent. Most have said they are being treated like a resource; not a person. What is missing for them is being seen as a human at work.
These conversations really got me thinking about these foundational questions:
· What does humanity at work look like?
· Do we need to both understand its deeper meaning and why it is needed?
· Would it make a difference, if any, in our world?
· And what impact would it make on business if we could make the workplace more human?
These are not easy questions to consider as our current definition of what happens at work separates our professional self from our personal self. We are constantly being reminded that we are two people as we are also told that we need to balance our work and our life. We go to work to do a specific job as professionals whether it is working at a financial institution or in hospitality. We have a role to play in the big picture of the organization.
Many of us have learned that the business culture is one of efficiency and productivity, where we must be professional. What it means is that our private and personal life is separated from who we are while we are doing our jobs. The culture may talk about teamwork but most of us have been working in highly competitive environments that are not very collaborative. We constantly pursue goals that set us apart from others so we can be number one in every category.
What differentiates us from machines, though, is the following
1. Creativity: our ability to imagine possibilities and make them happen
2. Critical thinking: our ability to analyse situations and make decisions
3. Empathy: our ability to listen and care deeply about ourselves and others
More than ever, in the age of digitalization, I believe these 3 characteristics are very important for what lies ahead of us. And yet, they can only develop if our business structure and culture allows them to emerge alongside the need for efficiency. Efficiency, at all costs, is no longer sustainable without taking into account the need for more empathy, creativity and critical thinking at work. We need to bring people back into the heart of business and start on a new path of how we redefine success.
Today, we have one of the highest global levels of employee disengagement in the workplace. We have departments who work in silos with a high degree of internal competition that does not serve organizations. Isn’t it time for us to stop and reflect about the root cause of why this is happening and what our opportunity is to make work more human? Maybe we need to understand the need for efficiency and at the same time, move more toward building trust and cooperation instead of tearing us apart in our functions?
For me, I chose to be a salesperson because I had a natural and curious interest in connecting with people. Having a real interest in people has meant that it takes time and investment in building long-term relationships with people. Why? Because it takes time to be seen as a trusted partner and to build an atmosphere that creates an enjoyable business experience.
I wrote about this in an article before – we reached the peak of what “Me” can do from now on only “WE” will take us further. But without treating humans for who they are and investing time to build relationships, it might be hard to achieve—but not impossible.
As I think about how we can make these shifts for the benefit of business and society, I found myself watching Margaret Heffernan´s quite famous TED talk again. I have to admit that at points I couldn’t help but laugh at how well she captures these issues. If you have not seen it, please enjoy and reflect!
I would be very happy to hear about your ideas on bringing humanity to the workplace.
What would it look like for you if work was more human?
Would it make a difference? And if so what kind of difference?
Do you feel you would enjoy your work more? Why?
Would work be more meaningful to you?
Or do you think it won´t change much?
I am looking forward to your reply and learning from you so we can expand this conversation and make some meaningful shifts in how we live and work.
Many thanks to Ayelet Baron for all our inspirational thoughts exchange and conversations about the above mentioned. And to my valued network of friends who is driven to bring more humanity to work – you all know who you are – thanks for being part of this journey!
Republished with permission of the author.
Featured Image/graphic link added by Enlivening Edge Magazine.