Six Ways Leaders Can Humanize an Organization

March 22, 2018

Six Ways Leaders Can Humanize an Organization

Smart business leaders know that without productive employees, there is no possibility of a successful business. In previous times it was expected that employees would accept what they were given and do what was necessary; they would be expected to go above and beyond, regardless of circumstances.

Employers had only one thing on their minds: growth of the business and financial success. The welfare of the employees was not a top priority. The cards were always held by the employers; they were the ones paying the wages.

Fortunately, attitudes towards employees are finally changing. Employees are no longer merely pawns on a chessboard. There is now understanding that if employees are happy, they will be contribute in a fruitful way toward the success of the business.

Management attitudes are changing...

Businesses have started to treat employees like human beings, rather than workers whose only relevant wishes are company related. With this in mind, human resources departments have modern tasks on their hands: they must be able to "humanize" the organization.

Previously, human resources departments were essentially risk mitigation departments. It was HR’s job to filter in the best talent, and filter out the "malfunctional." They would protect the company from tribunal claims, negotiate deals, and clear up any internal messes. Training programs were often sterile and lifeless, with little consideration for the employee experience.

Now, humanizing the organization is paramount. Here are six ways that human resources departments can achieve it:

1. Focus must be shifted onto employee welfare
Today’s human resources departments are having to up their game. Employees quite rightly want to feel that they are valuable assets, rather than well-oiled cogs in a machine. HR teams all around the world must now be more adept than ever at problem solving; they also have to come up with creative ways to show consistent support to employees.

This means that they must continue to devise optimal best practices, rolling with the punches as well as the inevitable company evolution. All superiors must have the attitude that employee wellbeing is paramount, and it’s the job of HR to make sure employees are aware of it.

2. Managers in all departments should interact with integrity
Now that employees are no longer happy to settle for a decent salary in order to feel happy in the company, managers in all departments have had to rethink their approach. Collective success now requires management to adopt a more genial and compassionate approach; employees must feel included, that they are part of something and that they’re appreciated.

When a business is loyal to its employees, the employees are likely to respond in kind. This in turn impacts customer perspective; if the company treats employees well enough to retain them, it will be seen as integral and trustworthy.

3. The infrastructure should facilitate connection
Employees are human beings, and human beings require a positive experience overall to function optimally. Most humans don’t thrive in isolation, and the same goes for entire departments. Humanizing the business means encouraging employees to behave naturally, even while at work.

That means both employees and supervisors should be encouraged to connect with and support each other whenever possible. They should be free to share ideas, and the company should set up facilities and systems in a way that allows employees to interact easily; the better they know each other, the happier they will be.  

It is helpful to stage events that will allow the entire workforce to socialise with each other on a one-to-one level. Hierarchy should go out of the window from time to time.

4. Authenticity should be embraced
An authentic workplace is a pleasant workplace. However, authenticity was never really a main priority until recently. To be authentic is to be free: free to be who you are, and to speak your mind (respectfully, of course). It also means you’re free to assert your boundaries.

When employees feel that they can be authentic, they will feel appreciated. Fearful employees that don’t speak their minds are not reliable assets. When a better deal comes up, they’re likely to up and leave. Whereas if they know that they’ll be listened to, they’re more likely to attempt to iron out issues instead.

5. Employees should be included in decisions
Obviously managers are managers for a reason; they need to retain their authority to keep the order within the organization. However, there is nothing to lose by including employees in the decision-making processes. Employees may have some excellent ideas that benefit the company.

Such inclusion is even more necessary when decisions will affect the employees personally. When they feel that they’ve been given some kind of say, they will see that the company cares about their wellbeing. Managers will be perceived as humans that they can relate to, rather than superiors that should always be appeased.

6. Training should be interactive, engaging, and interesting
Rather than throwing a book at a new employee and expecting them to absorb it, human resources should make training engaging. Training will be an ongoing necessity for most businesses, but if the employee’s experience is to be taken into consideration, the way training is presented must evolve.

For example, mentoring can be a mutually beneficial experience for seniors and employees. It builds relationships while at the same time, it passes on in-depth experience to students in a real, relatable way.

There is no reason that tests can’t be thought provoking and even entertaining. This may not be achievable within very serious departments, but when possible, it doesn’t hurt. When an employee feels any kind of emotional connection with the information, they are more likely to retain it.

When courses are necessary, the content should be carefully considered and the presenter personable and engaging. The more interactive a course is, the more memorable the teachings will be.

The best investment is always in the people…

Human resources departments are responsible for implementing and overseeing most of the above changes. When the entire business adopts these attitudes, it is almost certain that the business will reap the rewards. When employees are listened to, included, supported, and properly compensated, they will give their all.

Likewise, when they see superiors as other humans who accept their authenticity and meet it with the same, the workforce becomes exactly that: a force to be reckoned with. By treating employees in the way they deserve, businesses simply can’t lose.

The Authors: 

Daniel Ross is part of the marketing team at Roubler, a workforce management and payroll cloud software founded in Australia. Their mission is to change the way the world manages its workforces.