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7 ways to build a more human workplace

From embracing humanity to celebrating employee successes, experts from Hollywood, sports and academia provide insights on how companies can put a heartbeat back into their workplaces.

4 min read




This post is sponsored by WorkHuman.

Why does a human workplace matter? According to experts from business and academia, when employees feel like their company respects and cares about them, they are more engaged in their work and dedicated to the organization’s mission. And when this happens, morale thrives and business booms.

So how do organizations build this type of environment? It was the question on everyone’s mind at this year’s #WorkHuman event in Orlando, Florida. The three-day event featured presentations from celebrities, sports figures and business leaders, all geared toward answering this question. Here’s a roundup of seven lessons from this year’s speakers.

Embrace your humanity

Embracing your humanity is key to producing your best work, according to actor Michael J. Fox. Workplace blogger Jennifer V. Miller writes that Fox’s doctors gave him just 10 years to continue acting, following his diagnosis with Parkinsons in 1991. Fox said his craft improved after those 10 years passed because he could no longer employ the strategies he had always used. “I couldn’t rely on my old acting tricks, like ‘shocked expressions #365’,” said Fox. “My acting now relies on my humanity and it’s some of the best work of my life.”

Get rid of “zombie practices”

It’s time to ditch the traditional performance review, said Globoforce CEO Eric Mosley. He called the annual drudgery “zombie practice” and a “single point of failure” in organizations. New practices, including crowdsourced recognition, are providing companies with smarter, more constructive ways to evaluate performance, identify top talent and deliver meaningful feedback to employees.

Banish bureaucracy

Bureaucracy chokes the human spirit from organizations, according to business management expert Gary Hamel. He challenged organizations to adopt a more human mindset in order to position themselves for success.  “It’s impossible to build a business for the future without building one that is fit for humans,” Hamel said.

Be present—and powerful

What makes us face plant during big moments, like job interviews or important client meetings? You are “not being present” or “grounded in the moment,” said author and Harvard-trained researcher Amy Cuddy. In her presentation, Cuddy outlined the three characteristics of presence and explained how power and body language go hand in hand. She also offered advice for developing our own personal power and presence.

Focus on the “why”

Do your workers know who they serve and why? Sports Illustrated editor Don Yaeger suggested this is critical to engaging employees and driving business outcomes. In his presentation, Yaegar offered advice for helping employees see the big picture behind their work and cited an example from the US men’s national basketball team.

Choose happiness

Happiness and optimism are not simply nice ideas. According to researchers (and married couple) Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan, they are the keys that unlock true potential in employees. Workers that embrace optimism have a positive influence on their peers and work environment and are more equipped at managing challenges. The duo offered simple ways companies can help foster these practices through social recognition and more meaningful communication with employees.

Celebrate success—often!

Do your employees know they matter? Globoforce executives offered several suggestions for making recognition a practice at your organization. Implement platforms and practices that allow all employees – not just managers—to acknowledge achievement, said Chris French. Make it personal and connect it to your company’s values and mission, suggested Traci Pesch. Say thank you, advised Brenda Pohlman. These gestures matter, said Derek Irvine in his keyonte, and go a long way toward building a more human workplace.


WorkHuman 2016 Summer Series

You don’t have to wait a year to learn how you can make your workplace more human. Join us in a city near you during the #WorkHuman 2016 Summer Series. Throughout July and August, we’re offering intimate, half-day workshops in New York, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco. Learn more here.