CEO and cofounder of Workhuman, Eric Mosley, explains the way forward is by bringing more humanity to the workplace.
The onslaught of challenges faced by businesses this year – from coping with the COVID-19 pandemic to coming to terms with social and racial injustice – have permanently changed the world of work. This is about much more than trying to figure out a back-to-office plan.
The future of work is here, and with it brings an opportunity to reinvent how businesses operate in a new world where remote work is no longer a perk, where our work and home lives are forever entangled, and where employee health and safety are of top concern.
No one has a crystal ball that can predict how the global health crisis and economic uncertainty will unfold in the coming months and years. Yet leaders need a better way forward, right now. As my colleague Derek Irvine and I write in our forthcoming book, “Making Work Human: How Human-Centered Companies Are Changing the Future of Work and the Work,” the way forward is by bringing more humanity to the workplace. It’s about building a profound connection between employees and the organization by building a sense of belonging, purpose, meaning, happiness, and energy in every person. Work is a relationship, not a transaction.
A bit of history
A formal recognition of our shared humanity can be traced all the way back to 1948, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It’s a brief and noble document, just as relevant today as it was more than 70 years ago. Among the rights listed are those in Article 23, which begins, “Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employments, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.”
There are reasons to celebrate the world’s progress since Eleanor Roosevelt led that effort to recognize basic rights for all. Extreme poverty has declined; basic education and healthcare are more widely available; and for all their flaws, modern business and nonprofit enterprises have raised the material well-being of humans at a scale beyond the most optimistic projections of 1948.
But something big happened in the last 30 years, as the old psychological contract between corporations and employees dissolved. Once, most employees tolerated bureaucracy, inequality, and inauthenticity in exchange for job security. As job security disappeared, people became more mobile out of necessity. They found they had more choices of where and how to work, and whom to work with. The most talented, who had the most choices, saw that they didn’t have to leave their principles or personalities at home when they went to work. Leading companies learned that culture was the most important factor attracting talent.
A culture infrastructure
Indeed, maintaining a thriving culture where everyone is moving in the same direction toward shared goals is an even greater imperative – and even greater challenge – in 2020. What is company culture without a physical office space or in-person interactions? No casual banter between co-workers who sit next to each other. No happenchance meeting in the kitchen over coffee. No “How are you this morning?” when you first sit down at your desk. Suddenly – if you’re not careful – there’s a vacuum where these genuine moments of human connection and interaction used to be.
Even before COVID-19, Workhuman called workplaces the new community. Then, during the early months of the pandemic, the ways in which people reached out to support their co-workers and neighbors confirmed that belief for us. Purpose, meaning, and gratitude came to the forefront of our workplaces as crisis showed us what was really important.
Our new book, “Making Work Human,” shows business leaders step by step how to implement a culture of performance and gratitude in the workplace, seizing the competitive edge, and driving business sustainability. By dramatically and authentically improving the employee experience, you’ll improve business results. “Making Work Human” provides everything you need to get there, especially in these unprecedented times.