Technology, it almost goes without saying, has made just about everyone’s personal and professional lives easier. While advancements in technology have created smoother processes, more effortless ways to connect with loved ones and coworkers, and give us immense volumes of information readily available, it’s easy to argue that technology’s infiltration into every aspect of our lives has brought with it the notable downside of removing the human element from those same parts of our lives it’s made more efficient.
In workplaces everywhere, some version of the same question is top of mind: how do we reinstill some of the humanity that we’ve perhaps lost by our increasing reliance on technology? It’s a huge question, to be sure, but luckily, it’s also one with tangible, actionable answers.
In pursuit of these answers, our friends over at Terkel asked their community of business professionals and leaders for their best insights. From conducting one-on-one check-ins to taking care of your employee’s overall well-being, there are more ways to facilitate a work environment that feels a lot more like it’s built by humans with humans in mind. After all, technology might power our teams, but it shouldn’t define how they feel and function.
Here are 14 ways to add more humanity to your workplace:
Prioritize employees’ work-life balance
“In this day and age, we need to adapt to what employees want. Top of mind for most is a good work-life balance and cohesive company culture. I believe it’s important to take the time for everyone to have a safe space to share concerns or feedback. Listen to what your employees, who make your business successful, have to say. By investing in your people, you will have less employee turnover and more collaboration, making your company more successful long term.”
- Lisa Massicotte, AbsenceSoft
Be selective with relying on technology over human-powered solutions
“To add more humanity to the business realm, don’t rely on tools so much that you become incapable of doing things the “old-school” way. With so many project management and communication tools available, it’s true they can help you save hours every week, and productivity can skyrocket.
Just be sure that your work doesn’t become too technical and that it still has a human touch to it. After all, the mind is what ultimately drives creativity and innovation.”
- Greg Gillman, MuteSix
Drop the corporate lingo and talk like a person
“Internal communication does not always have to be formal to be inclusive and respectful. Quite often, speaking in more simple terms can be more pragmatic and effective. It can also be more humane, allowing colleagues to focus on merit rather than sugar coating or excessive pleasantries. In many industries and especially in startups, it’s becoming a norm.”
- Michael Sena, SENACEA
Encourage employees to show up as their real selves — and to put that on display
“To add more humanity into the working world, allow employees to display personal items on their desks such as succulents, small stuffed animals, or photos of loved ones. Encourage them to share the stories behind their personal items.
Not only will this practice bring comfort to workers, but it offers them a chance to show their personality at work. Human connection is the key to creating a workplace that values its employees.”
- Andrew Bernstein, Kinder Beauty
Provide cultural awareness training
“As more companies seek to expand their employment efforts to the global market, cultural awareness training programs are needed. Remote work has opened up an international talent pool for many businesses. Implementing cultural awareness training will help your team to be more mindful of cultural sensitivities in their recruitment efforts.
These programs contain information and activities that teach cross-cultural communication styles, intercultural management skills, and how to work with language differences. This training also helps team members develop skills to work and thrive in cultures other than their own.”
- Jared Pobre, Caldera + Lab
Create team-building onboarding experiences
“With our number of remote employees increasing, we find it most effective to onboard them in groups online. These recruitment cohorts enable team members to bond as they make the journey through the onboarding process together. The shared experience of simultaneously starting a new job creates a lasting emotional resonance within their start-up group, and it also begins team-building from day one.”
- Shaunak Amin, SnackMagic
Executive transparency goes a long way
“Humanity and empathy within companies begin with executive leadership. As such, one of the best ways to add more humanity into your workplace is for CEOs and managers to share their stories, struggles, and paths to success.
This should be done both via company-wide meetings and also in one-on-one meetings. Such actions will enable employees to be more open with their personalities and also create a more genuine connection between departments and hierarchical structures.
More than that, however, managers and CEOs who lead with humanity themselves are more likely to create a healthy workplace culture. This will create more retention, enable better teamwork and collaboration, and lead to higher levels of success.”
- Lori Price, PixieLane
Cultivate a sense ofcommunity through volunteering
“Providing your teams with paid volunteer hours is a great way to add more humanity to the working world. When your teams go out into their local communities and make a difference at charities, your company’s reach broadens tremendously. Humanity should be at the forefront of your company, and providing volunteer hours helps in making that happen.”
- Michael Jankie, Natural Patch
Take one-on-one check-ins seriously
“Managers should check in with their employees one-on-one. This allows for their employees to feel seen and heard. It also creates an opportunity for mentorship and guidance, which can lead to improved work performances.
When employees know that those whom they’re working for care about their progress and want for them to do well, it adds a layer of appreciation and support along with their typical responsibilities.”
- Joaquín Roca, Minerva
Take care of your employees’ well-being — with actions, not lip service
“Happy and healthy employees are the greatest asset of any company. Supporting them and ensuring their well-being is key to ensuring humanity. Here are some tips on how to do it:
Flexible working hours. It’s vital to recognize that employees live very different lives. It is impossible to accommodate all of them with fixed working hours, so it’s a good idea to give employees the right to decide when they work. It requires a lot of trust, but it’s definitely worth it.
Relevant benefits. The pandemic has changed the general view of work benefits. Gym memberships became irrelevant with closed facilities, and medical insurance companies saw a big boom of interest. Thus, a company needs to check what its employees want most of all and be ready to provide relevant bonuses.
Healthy work-life balance. Many people might feel overworked, unmotivated, and fatigued all the time. Companies must monitor the situation (e.g., through anonymous surveys) and take relevant action when required.”
- Ewelina Melon, Tidio
Start some friendly competition
“I don’t mean to compete in the cutthroat, dog-eat-dog manner that we’ve grown to expect in business. I mean it as a successful motivator. You can be and do more, but you need a good incentive to get you started.
It is unique to each individual, and once discovered, it can catapult people, teams, and organizations to levels of success they could never have imagined. This is humanity’s might. And it all begins with a desire to succeed — not at the expense of others, but with the people around us. So explore that core urge and see where it takes you.”
- Gerrid Smith, Joy Organics
Know your weaknesses as a leader — and don’t be shy about talking about them
“Often, toxicity in the workplace stems from the false perception that bosses or higher-ups are omniscient and good at everything.
To dispel that myth and create more psychological safety, consider organizing an event where senior management lists a bunch of topics or disciplines where they have little to no knowledge — this could be anything from how to play golf or how to make pasta from scratch, and then have some of the more junior staff (who are well versed in that topic) volunteer to deliver a presentation on that topic and demonstrate their expertise.
This can create a new dynamic and can be a fun bonding experience across teams and levels at an organization.”
- Dawid Wiacek, The Career Fixer
A classic for a reason: recognize employee achievements
“If you are a manager, don’t forget to express appreciation to your employees. It’s easy to get busy with one’s own duties, but it’s also important to recognize the power of the collective in the workplace. Every person’s efforts contribute to the company’s growth. When you let your employees know that you value their contributions, they will feel supported, and they will want to continue to help the company.”
- Schuyler Hoversten, Swoopt
Invest in teaching empathetic conflict management techniques
“How we handle conflict is perhaps one of the most human aspects of the working world. Whether it is social, monetary, or B2B, handling conflict in an empathetic yet strategized way allows humanity to stand out in the workplace.
In many cases, this comes as a byproduct of healthy company culture. Businesses that have good ethical values and HR behavior create working communities that are trained to, and innately aware of how to handle conflict well.”
- Karina Karassev, Stori