The benefits fully engaged employees bring to a company are already well known. But while many see engagement as promoted through events and interaction, modern thinking backs a wider scope – namely, creating a more human workplace. Now, as COVID-19 recedes, a Human Workplace is being billed as the optimum environment to return to work to.
Certainly, human resources departments are always concerned with finding ways to enhance employee engagement, not least because the effort is worthwhile. Research shows it leads to higher productivity, lower employee turnover and overall bottom line boosts.
Employee engagement is loosely defined as the way employers make employees feel valued, involved and happy to contribute to the growth of the company. The question has always been how best to create these conditions?
With trust and communication between employee and employer key factors, the human workplace is recognised as an ideal way to enhance that sense of value and willingness to perform.
What Is the Human Workplace?
At first glance, the events, activities and general policies that companies introduce as part of their employee engagement strategy serve their purposes well. Whether it is done via offering professional development opportunities, promoting more open communication or simply encouraging employees to socialise together, happier employees have delivered results.
Nevertheless, engagement is usually low. According to Gallup’s State Of The American Workplace 2020, just 35% of US workers are considered to be engaged. It has been growing in recent years but only gradually, with 30% in 2012 jumping to 32% in 2015, 33% in 2017 and 34% in 2018.
However, teams with engaged employees show substantially better customer engagement, suffer fewer accidents, register higher productivity and even a 21% higher profitability rating than teams with disengaged employees.
Many people returning to work post COVID-19 have already had to face professional and personal difficulties – even tragedies – over lockdown. The human workplace is rooted in the idea that personal life is important to an engaged employee and can enhance a sense of belonging. Ultimately, it shows an employee is a human being, not just part of a corporate machine. So, do it right and it’ll create more than just a positive vibe.
Creating A Human Workplace
Establishing a culture of inclusivity is a core element in the creation of a human workplace. But how can we do this? Here are a few steps to take.
- The Personal not just The Professional
A human workplace recognises the ‘person’ rather than the ‘employee’. But the person is becoming easy to forget as technologies threaten ‘real connection’. It’s about being aware and supportive, which builds personal bonds, increases loyalty and, in turn, engagement. Some of the ways to recognise individuality are to:
- increase collaboration
- keep roles flexible
- recognise the employee’s major life events
The processes and procedures a company operates under are important, but over-systemizing how things run can be counter-productive. People do not ‘love’ procedures, even if they love their job, so it’s a good idea to tone down company processes and avoid micro-management if the human factor is to be promoted.
Collaborative environments are more open and creative by definition, allowing colleagues to share ideas, solve problems together and communicate in real terms. So, promoting greater collaboration and endorsing flexibility to discover their own solutions, boosts the human touch.
You already know there is no such thing as a perfect employee – even a perfect manager. But this underlines the importance of keeping employees agile. It’s about knowing the individual talents of team members, the value of their perspectives in problem-solving and planning. If you utilise these employee talents, and give them more responsibility, it boosts their sense of value. After all, people have a variety of interests and abilities, so why not bring all that into the mix.
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