Bring Your Human to Work (Part 1)

July 23, 2019 Process Improvement

Erica Keswin’s book, Bring your Human to Work: 10 Surefire Ways to Design a Workplace That’s Good for People, Great for Business, and Just Might Change the World, has some great advice for those of us involved in creating Great Places to Work.

She writes that “Honoring relationships is the theme that brings everything a human workplace stands for together.” What does she mean by “honoring relationships”? She states that “it’s about everything we do in the workplace – creating values, running meetings, deciding who to hire, using technology, choosing whom we partner with, and evaluating and rewarding talent.” I would add it also includes how we communicate and treat one another and the level of importance we put on building relationships.

In this blog, I’ll share the first 5 surefire ways to build and sustain a human workplace.

1. Be Real – Don’t just talk about brand, values and mission but be sure you are living and breathing them. Encourage employees to bring their best selves to work, be honest, engaged, and fully empowered. Create an environment where that is possible – be the best leadership team you can be, be transparent, and don’t just say you want employees to be empowered – make it happen.

2. Play the Long Game – Sustainability is playing the long game. Build company practices that account for “the complexity” of people’s real lives. Create and honor a diverse and inclusive workplace. “Lean into bumpy,” meaning challenge every assumption, belief, practice, policy, procedure, and habit and resist the human tendency to seek “equilibrium.” Sustainability means that you focus on those commitments that may, in the short run, cause a little pain, but in the long run, create a sustainable, thriving workplace.

3. Find the Sweet Spot Between Technology and Human Connection – This perhaps is the greatest challenge. The more technology provides solutions to get things done without human interaction, the more intentional we need to be to find a good balance between the two in the workplace. The author suggests that we always ask this question, “What is the best medium of communication to honor a relationship?” I would bring it back to the question, “What is the experience you want the client to have?” Clients buy from people who create great experiences. Sometimes a great experience can be placing an order as quickly as possible and getting it as soon as possible or it can be that you arrived on time, introduced yourself, called to convey difficult news (rather than put in an email), or just stopped by to check in and see how things were going.

4. Mind Your Meetings – The author states that “Each year, we waste an estimated $37 billion on unproductive meetings, with executives spending up to 23 hours of their work week in meetings.” Meetings are necessary, and they do provide the human connection. Learning how to run purposeful meetings is a skill and an art. Be sure every meeting has a purpose, a clearly defined outcome and process, and send out pre-work so that when you come to the meeting it can be productive. There is nothing worse than showing up to a meeting and having someone read something to you. If everyone commits to sending out materials to read and review ahead of time, your meetings will be purposeful, and you will get the outcomes you want and need.

5. Well-being at Work: Find the Human Side of Wellness – The author states, “It’s not difficult to make the argument that providing a path to wellness is just plain human.” Study after study has shown that companies that have effective wellness programs have a reduced turnover rate (9%) to those who don’t (15%). What is a “highly effective” wellness program? It focuses on “physical, social, financial, spiritual and mental wellbeing.” When a human being shows up to work, they don’t just bring their worker self, they bring their whole self!

Theresa Gale
PRINCIPAL, TRANSFORM, INC.