We asked around to find out…
This spring we are on a journey to expand our community and learn what’s on people’s minds. To that end, in March we attended Transform, a week-long thought leadership conference that seeks to drive the conversations and innovations shaping the new workforce, workplace, and work of the future.
What an exciting week! We attended panel after panel, there was so much to take in. And it reminded us how exhausting learning new things can be! Newsflash – AI was the hot topic of the conference. On our second day we decided to shake it up a bit. Rather than being passive learners sitting through panel discussions, we decided to spend our time in the Exhibitor Forum – the interactive hall where vendors with cutting-edge products and services gathered – along with puppies, crafts, chair massages and coffee! You could feel the energy in the hall – it was literally buzzing. This was our kind of place!
We have been playing around with our marketing message and were curious to test some of our assumptions. This was the perfect place for some qualitative research. Booths were filled with a large diverse group of Millennials and Gen Zs, groups we have not had as much access to, so this provided an opportunity to capture their voices. These were primarily sales folks, which we liked because they were both motivated to succeed and understand the importance of human connection, and not ambivalent about sharing their opinions. So we got curious and dove in.
We’d approach a booth, ask the obligatory “what do you do” and after answering it about us, we would playfully ask a few questions:
- What makes humanity in the workplace important?
- What happens when it works well?
- What happens when it doesn’t work?
- What’s one thing you do to bring more humanity to the workplace?
Below are the wonderful range of answers we got from this great group of people who were energized and excited to talk to us. We hope you learn as much about the meaning of humanity in the workplace as we did!
What makes humanity in the workplace important?
- Oh my gosh because we’re all humans. I think I am allowing people to be seen and for who they are, and recognized for who they are, and celebrated for who they are. It is important at work, and it makes us want to show up and work harder and be better every day.
Well, I would just say like that’s a core function of social society, its social fabric. It’s necessary to participate in a way that works for everybody’s benefit.
- The work, it’s done by people. For me, because I spend so much time there, right? These are your people, your second home. If I spend 8-10-12 hours a day with people I want to make sure I understand them and who they are, the person inside. I’m a manager of people so I want to make sure that I know a person well enough that I can reach them in the way that they’re going to learn fast and not take offense to some coaching.
What happens when humanity works well?
- Yeah, when it works, business outcomes are driven by effective people strategies. The impact on people strategies, they are made possible by well resourced and supported humans.
- It’s the type of conversations you’re having with your direct managers. Are you only talking about the goals to accomplish for the business or are they checking on you as a person? Are they asking about career development and interested in you as a person? If not, humanity is not working.
What happens when humanity isn’t working?
- When it’s not there, it’s transactional, which doesn’t lend to a sense of belonging. It’s just a job. However, I think if you want to get people invested into what you’re actually trying to accomplish, you need humanity.
- Like, it’s sad for everybody involved. There is the work you do for the actual company and the business itself, but like, there’s a core sense of purpose that I think is necessary. Our humanity is important in lived experiences and should be well supported. Otherwise, you know, we’re just going to be cultivating a population of underserved and unhappy people. And that’s a tragedy.
- I think it’s where people are assuming the worst of another person and then they no longer communicate with an empathetic approach or hopeful outcome. Then people become more siloed, especially in remote, and instead of working towards one goal, every department and individual is working against the other ones. And then we can never turn anything around.
- Toxic bosses are the most obvious example – when they are in it for themselves, they’re not in it to help you grow. And teams who have secret conversations are playing politics, running rampant protecting themselves. They don’t want to know me, I know that. They’re not in it to help me grow as a leader.
What’s one thing you do to bring more humanity to the workplace?
- I think I just try to treat everything like, to not be afraid to lean in to others. To say, “I’m sorry I made a mistake, how are you”?
- I really try to understand why collective issues are happening and try and drive for solutions. Like hearing everybody out and then trying to figure out what the best solution would be for the team, but also for the company, and how to make sure everyone is listened to.
- I start with for what’s good for business because if a business is doing well, I can see my people protected and grow. Beyond that, it’s hearing where they want to be, what they want to be working on, giving them projects that are new and challenging for them. I like to give people opportunities they wouldn’t necessarily think are possible. All of a sudden, they light up!
- I’m a very big believer in the little things. As soon as somebody joins the company, I go out of my way to say hello, see if they want to get coffee. If somebody is working late, I check on them, see if they want a snack. I try to do those little things in whatever role. I try to call of all my people on my team and try to chat them up about what they are doing every day. I know sometimes I can feel so pressured – all the time.
- And so, just checking in – how are you doing? How are you feeling today? How is your day going – anything like that. That person connection, that’s how I bring more humanity.
- I think I’m a really good listener.
Inspired – now over to you!
After leaving the panels behind us, this voyage into the hall was so fun and engaging. Everyone was so eager and excited to talk about humanity, what it means to them, and how important it is! Now it’s you/your team’s turn to answer these questions, and discuss them with your team. You’ll likely be as amazed as we were with the insights.
This week, we are attending the Work Human conference in San Diego (April 17-23). If you are here too, let us know. We’d love to meet up!
Humanity works because of you!
Kate & Debbie