Trinity HR Blog Posts

The humane touch

Do you wake up on a Sunday feeling anxious at the thought of having to go to work on Monday?

Well you’re definitely not alone.  According to a recent study conducted by Randstad 2018, 40% of employees think of leaving their jobs due to suffering with burnout, which I find astounding.

Throughout my career, I have come across countless examples where, organisations have become so focused on profit that people are treated as human doings instead of human beings.  In many of these organisations, leaders have forgotten that their greatest responsibility is toward their people and if they treated their people more humanely, the financial results would follow.

Society places an expectation on us that when we are at work, we have to behave in a certain way.  When we turn up for work, we are expected to put on our ‘work faces’ so that we can assume the proper emotional stance for work.

It’s not considered appropriate to display ‘extreme ’emotional reactions such as crying, showing anger or frustration.  Unfortunately, this means that we end up leaving a little bit of who we are as a human-beings at the door.

The challenge with adopting this very moderated workplace, is that we create an alternative universe in which human beings are not supposed to act as human beings. 

When we strip humanity out of business, it creates an environment in which unethical decisions and behaviour are more likely to occur, because it no longer feels human.  It also stifles creativity, innovation and people are less engaged than they could be. 

It is my belief that each of us has a moral responsibility to humanity and organisations play a significant part in shaping society.  Work should be a place where we can thrive and combine work and life together.  Creating more humane workplaces isn’t just a nice thing to do, it’s the right thing to do.

Whilst there are many organisations who thankfully have transformed their cultures and been converted into more humane workplaces, the corporate governance failures, sexual harassment scandals, the widening gender pay gap and worker exploitation, show that for the majority of businesses today, we still have some way to go.

I recently read a story about a 25-year old Warehouse worker, who described his life as a robot.  It’s sad that some organisations are turning people into robots and those workers can only do so much for so long before they can’t do any more… Neglecting people to focus on the numbers, only works for a while, but it’s never sustainable.

For the shift to happen to more humane workplace, it needs to be driven and role modelled from the top – by our senior leadership teams. In the book, Humane Capital; How to Create a Management Shift to Transform Performance and Profit, the author, Vlatka Hlupic, explains how companies can do well by doing good and how they can maintain profitability while benefiting the world around them.

The book’s content is supported by insights from interviews with 58 CEOs, Chairmen and other senior leaders of industry globally.  It suggests that the current model of work is broken and to achieve success in business today, leaders need to shift their thinking.  The one differentiating factor these leaders agree on is that people are a differentiator. And by creating humane places of work, we ensure that people continue to provide the competitive edge.

The time is now.

Being humane in business therefore means creating an environment in which employees feel connected, cared for and appreciated.  When our people understand the purpose of the organisation, when they are encouraged to bring their whole selves to work understand how their role helps achieve results, they are more inclined to give discretionary effort which will impact financial results.

The world of work is changing and so our approach to how we manage employees has to undergo transformation too. Whether you manage a team remotely or locally, people work for people and not organisations.

What is it not?

By creating a humane workplace, I am not suggesting that everyone skips through fields of daisies holding hands and signing Kumbaya. Of course, we need to hold our people accountable for  achieving results, but by providing a humane workplace people are authentic human beings, they are allowed to express emotions and bring their full self to work and therefore feel more inclined to deliver outstanding results. After all, if you want a 100%, you need to allow them to bring their 100%.