“The human workplace is one that adapts, innovates fast, involves everyone, communicates, understands and acts in perpetuity. It creates relationships rather than transactions.”- Andy Swann, author The Human Workplace: People-Centred Organizational Development.
Has your workplace and workforce become disconnected, disrupted and disengaged? Then now is the time to bring things down to a more ‘human’ level. But what does a human workplace look like? We feel it’s spending time listening to, engaging with and developing your humans, which in turn could give you and your business the edge. Your people are, after all, your most important asset. Help them to thrive and your business will follow.
Engaging with your people makes for a more engaged workforce. It means to listen and show understanding, as well as expressing empathy, warmth, emotion, creativity, strength, patience, honesty and authenticity.… in fact, all the things that make us human.
Are we painting an unrealistic picture here? … at Acceler8we don’t think so. We are human, so let’s start acting like them again. People are at the core of everything we do. Our aim is to re-engage with employees, reigniting the spark in your people by treating them like humans. Our training programmes reignite confidence and optimism, the traits that you probably employed your people for in the first place!
Creating and maintaining a workplace where your employees really want to be is surely half the battle to creating a company where customers really want to be too. It’s not all bean bags, office slides and ‘Beer Fridays’ though. Of course, these things are great at attracting candidates and rewarding the current employees, but it should go deeper than that. Engaging with employees is the start but keeping them engaged and fulfilled is the aim.
Looking at the whole workplace culture, your processes, your structure, your leadership style … the whole shebang will get the ball rolling. Andy Swann’s book (quoted above) is a pragmatic guide which shows how this can be achieved. It looks at global visionary companies, Microsoft, CGI, Universal, Lego, SAP, and BBC Worldwide and others to see how they are getting it right. How they are people-focussed.
Andy talks about community and instilling a sense of community within the workplace. As humans we thrive within communities, we need communities. Connecting with others is a basic human need. It’s in our nature to work together towards a common purpose, something that is bigger than ourselves but one in which we have an impact on and can contribute too.
As humans we thrive on realising our importance, it makes us want to do better and want to achieve more. If we’re not achieving, if we’re not feeling we are making a difference or feeling fulfilled than what’s the point? When complacency sets in, productivity goes down, but when everyone feels they are part of the common mission, this is where the magic happens and the sparks fly!
It makes sense to apply this to the workplace. Treating the workforce as people with potential, with ambitions, hopes and dreams, and emotions all working together as a community, shows them respect and in turn empowers them to strive further and flourish.
“When people are unleashed to be amazing on their terms (within the parameters of the organisation), their potential is unlocked.”- Andy Swann.
Achieving a more human / people-focussed workplace can start with rethinking complicated polices and detangling complex processes. Dated, tired systems and polices and procedures will zap the humanity out of people, making them tired and dated too. To paraphrase Liz Ryan in her article for Forbes on How to Build a Human Workplace:
“You have to look at where your rules and policies are blocking the mojo that would otherwise be flowing….. They slow you down, and insult your employees, thus stealing from your shareholders for no business reason at all."
So, work on that mojo. Cut through and cut down on bureaucracy, keep things simple, be flexible, thankful, give feedback, keep it real and measure success. The key is to enable rather than force your people to do well. Talk about things, communicate and gain trust.
Obviously, it’s not something that can happen overnight, but get the conversations started and the rest will follow. The idea of a human workplace should run throughout your leadership style, throughout your employee engagement, throughout your customer service and beyond. We know that when your colleagues and employees are truly engaged on a human level, your customers will be too.