What does it mean to make a workplace more “human”? Given the current technology boom, it’s easy for organizations to strip out the human element of every process, even if they do this unintentionally.
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Specifically, it's easy for employers and leaders to get so caught up in daily tasks and quarterly goals that they forget they are leading a team of people, not machines.
This lack of "humanness" could be a major contributing factor to the overwhelming number of disengaged workers. A June 2016 survey from Gallup found that only 32.7 percent of 7,327 U.S. employees surveyed said they were engaged at work.
It’s time, then, to bring humanity back into the office. Here’s how to make the workplace human again:
1. Establish a recognition plan.
Recognition reminds employees that they are valued and demonstrates how leadership views its staff as more than just workers. Sincere expressions of gratitude add a lot of value to the employer-employee relationship.
A 2016 study from Globoforce found that when employees had been recognized within the previous six months, they were more than twice as likely to believe that leaders cared than those who had never been recognized.
A recognition plan should be created and tied to company values. Some 80 percent of the 828 employees surveyed agreed that their company leaders cared about and actively tried to create a more human workplace that was focused on employee well-being. When employees see their role impacting long-term organizational goals, they are more engaged and motivated.
Create a recognition plan that aims to motivate. Send out a survey, or ask each employee how he or she likes to be recognized. Then, build a committee and create criteria for avoiding arbitrary recognitions or favoritism.
Make sure immediate management provides the recognition, to make it more personal. A bad plan outsources recognition to HR. People like to be valued by those they work closest with.
Finally, execute the plan and reevaluate it continually to improve processes and make the plan the most effective. Involve fun gifts and create raffles to engage the staff.
2. Create fun team-building games.
Fun should be a priority in the workplace, and since team-building is essential in boosting morale and adding more of a human element to the office, companies need to combine the two.
Create fun events that include gamification and activities. Gamification can stoke the competitive fire in the team in a unique, light-hearted way. For example, start a health-related competition that incorporates fitness wearables so employees can see live leaderboards that factor in exercise metrics.
Consider hosting fun events outside the office as well. Hold a seminar at a restaurant, buy group tickets to a sporting event, throw holiday parties at outdoor venues or rent out a section of a cocktail bar for happy hour.
Don’t approach morale and team-building in a dry, boring way. People want to engage with and connect on a more human level outside the stuffy formality of a corporate initiative. Let team members loosen up their ties and feel comfortable being themselves.
3. Adopt a transparency policy.
Don’t become a secretive workplace, with closed doors, whispered meetings and cryptic messaging. When companies act secretively, they leave employees guessing and struggling to fill in the gaps of information.
The Globoforce study found that when employees agreed that, “My company is open and transparent with information,” they were 50 percent more likely to agree that their leaders cared about creating a human workplace.
Show respect by being open. Make this a core value and put it into action. Employees should know that their company shares important information with all levels of the organization.
Transparency is a two-way street. Invite employees to provide feedback, and give them some say in decisions that will affect their teams. People want to be heard.
When employees surveyed agreed with, “I feel like my opinions, voice and ideas matter to company leaders,” they were 43 percent more likely to notice their team’s emphasis on adding humanity to the office.
4. Offer professional development.
Part of a human workplace centers on helping the people on the team reach their individual goals. Offer growth opportunities. Investing in employees and their professional development shows that the company cares about their personal goals as much as organizational goals.
For example, help them with goal-setting and career-planning. Once they understand where they want to grow, offer educational resources like online academies or tuition reimbursement to help them further their education. Provide ongoing feedback on their performance as well so they can achieve their goals and help the company help them make their vision a reality.