Humanity in the Workplace

humanityWhen most people hear the term “human resources,” they think of the part of an organization that handles paychecks, benefits, and employee-related forms. But consultant Mary Schaefer wants to change this vision. At a recent TED Talk (“Putting the ‘Human’ Back into Human Resources”), Schaefer offers a few insights to help infuse more humanity back into the workplace.

Treat people humanly: If you treat employees “humanely” you provide them with basic, essential needs, such as lunch and bathroom breaks. But if you treat employees “humanly,” you address core human needs – appreciation, a sense of belonging, and meaningful connections. Addressing human needs makes all the difference, says Schaefer, and will positively affect your bottom line.

Believe in people: Pay attention to those who express an interest in developing and growing in order to advance. Believe that when human beings are encouraged and treated respectfully, they will be motivated and rise to the occasion.

Strive for higher engagement: Studies have shown that just 30 percent of U.S. employees are engaged, meaning they feel connected to a company, work with passion, drive your company ahead, and increase profitability. But this data also reveals that 70 percent of employees have basically checked out, feeling under-appreciated and disconnected. Change this by asking for employees’ opinions via employee engagement surveys. It is also essential to follow up accordingly.

Value people: Let your experience be your guide. Think about a time when you felt valued (your work was praised), or when you made someone else feel good (“You handled that well.”). Bring coffee to a colleague who you know is working extra hard. Managers, if possible, should try to check in with employees every day. If employees feel acknowledged, they’ll feel like they belong and work harder.

Make a commitment today to honor your employees’ worth and potential. It’ll be on ongoing journey, but it’ll bring power to both sides.