Historically, business strategies have focused on production and business outcomes. Human capital was considered nothing more than a means to an end. The world is changing, however, with "the growing realization that somehow amidst efficiency, productivity, and career advancement, our very humanity has lost out,” as author Tim Leberecht describes it.
Today HR leaders can help humanize the organization; leading the charge toward building a world of work that marries business-minded and relationship-oriented strategies for success.
Position HR to humanize organizations.
Your employees are the most valuable assets in your organization. Without your employees driving business activities, your company cannot innovate, grow, or evolve. Your HR department is, or should be, viewed as so much more than a non-producing department, responsible for lowering risk and limiting damage.
Sadly, not unlike like legal departments, human resources departments have spent the last several years repositioning themselves in the eyes of management. HR has had to prove its worth to the C-suite, by demonstrating its ability to think like innovators, solve complex problems, and at the same time, retain keen focus on people and what they require.
With a growing global movement to support mindfulness, well-being and wellness in the workplace, today’s HR leaders are optimally positioned to demonstrate the value and business benefits of humanizing the organization.
People resources -- human resources -- deserve executive attention, support, and appreciation.
Create incentives by humanizing the organization.
People are not well-oiled machines. It’s time for every business leader to stop thinking of them as such. Today, people require more than financial compensation to thrive in a business setting. The top talent is looking for organizations that embrace inclusivity, collaboration, and transparency.
Humanizing an organization creates incentives for the best candidates to apply, improves employee engagement, and develops a sense of loyalty and exclusivity. These factors directly impact business outcomes including customer perceptions, profitability, and competitive standing. For organizations to thrive in the modern global marketplace, they need a balance between business and human resources.
Drive humanization within your organization.
Every step of the employee lifecycle offers an opportunity to improve the human experience in the workplace. HR leaders can lead by example and facilitate relationship-oriented interactions between colleagues and supervisors by:
1. Focusing on the details.
Something as simple as how a new employee pronounces his or her name can have a profound effect on the employee experience. Encourage staff members to welcome and support each other along the way. Teams and departments should never feel isolated or unable to speak openly and honestly during the workday.
2. Opening up communication channels.
Traditional hierarchies can close off innovative thoughts and activities. While all businesses need some level of managerial structure, consider creating more transparency within the communication process. Encourage employees to take part in decision-making processes and avoid practices that belittle or alienate an employee for speaking up. And remember, sometimes, the best ideas come out of the left field.
3. Invest in learning activities that are fun.
Few employees relish reading a long and tedious guide and taking a test. For training and ongoing education, think outside the box. Let employees take ownership in their continuing education. Pair experienced senior team members with new recruits in mentorship programs.
4. Listen actively.
Active listening is a skill that few professionals fully understand and even fewer practice, sadly. Active listening means hearing what someone is saying, acknowledging and validating a person’s perspective, and responding with a thoughtful and supportive remark that demonstrates your understanding.
5. Use data to express the value of relationships.
Every person-oriented activity that HR pursues has business value, but that value is not always easy to see or understand. Use analytics to demonstrate the value relationship-based activities have from a business perspective. Employees want to know their actions are creating something worthwhile, and executives may need to see the connection between HR and business outcomes to be able to embrace a relationship focus.
6. Balance relationships with business everyday.
Investing in people is investing in the success of an organization, and today’s global marketplace demands that investment. HR leaders can drive that point home by using recruitment strategies, training experiences, benefits packages, and other initiatives to show appreciation for hard work and encourage future success. As more organizations start to see the hard return on investment associated with humanization, they will begin to implement similar humanization practices.