During the past year, many organizations have found that their training and development initiatives evolved rapidly. Issues that were always at the back of everyone’s mind became top of mind in a year that was full of varying crises.
While some companies have had diversity initiatives for years, others found themselves scrambling to train employees on the fundamentals of embracing cultural differences. And, they were doing so while making operational decisions about which work employees could do remotely.
It can be easy to lead reactively rather than proactively, but as conditions evolve, it is crucial to engage with employees in a way that meets their long-term needs of contentedness, well-being and purpose.
For organizations to create change from within, they will need to re-humanize the workplace. “Re-humanization” does not mean abandoning technology investments but, rather, using them as tools, along with in-person experiences, to teach employees about themselves, each other and how to flourish. Here are three pillars to guide you in the re-humanization of the workplace:
Re-humanize the Organization
Viktor Frankl wrote, “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” So much has changed over the past year. To capitalize on the winds of change, organizations can take the time to look inward; reflect on the past; and align on a purpose-filled vision, mission and values for the future — in other words, how they help humanity.
If you have not already, now is a great time to connect with other leaders in your organization and create a cross-functional team dedicated to reevaluating organizational purpose through the lens of humanity. You are uniquely positioned to play an active role in shepherding this initiative, because the outputs created from this exercise will create the beacons to which all training and development programs should create ladders.
To help kickstart this purpose project, consider sending discovery assignments to key internal stakeholders with three simple questions to provide insight and fodder for reevaluating purpose in your organization’s culture:
- What challenges did you face personally and professionally during the past year?
- What are the most valuable lessons you have learned from this time?
- How will these lessons help to transform the nature of how we work?
You can then package the answers to these questions and share them with the rest of the organization, demonstrating to employees that there is a commitment to creating change. Departments and teams can then carry out this exercise as well, creating a forum to learn from each other while connecting your organization’s collective consciousness.
Many organizations already have a purpose and values in place, but if yours doesn’t, here are some simple guidelines to consider as you redefine purpose:
- Your vision is your “why,” a “future-oriented declaration” that unifies your company’s dreams and audacious ambition for the future.
- Your mission is your “what,” your organization’s purpose and primary goals in serving humanity.
- Your values are your “how,” the fundamental values and beliefs that your organization expects from all employees, regardless of rank or title.
Re-humanize the Workforce
With a clearly defined purpose, demonstrated through vision, mission and values statements, it’s time to focus your attention on developing holistic training and development solutions that demonstrate your organization’s commitment through action. It’s not enough to talk the talk; now is the time to walk the walk and lead the transformation from within.
Here is a list of topics you may want to include in your training and development curriculum:
- A commitment to live up to the organizational purpose.
- Self-awareness of our thoughts and behaviors at work.
- Embracing reality — what we can and can’t control.
- Navigating change and creating new healthy habits.
- Self-care — how to nourish the mind, body and spirit.
- Being empathetic, asking questions and listening.
- Showing compassion by taking action to help others.
- Learning to forgive ourselves and others.
- Expressing gratitude for the gifts we have in life.
- Setting performance goals and the visualization process.
- Facilitation and the principles of collaborative thinking.
When re-humanizing the workforce, your goal should be to create a framework with which employees can learn about themselves and their co-workers first. It is also a great time to evaluate your existing investments to understand the role they play in transforming the workplace.
Re-humanize Business Processes
With all the investments we’ve made in technology, we’ve lost touch with the human connection. Whether you are in a remote, flexible or in-office workplace, it’s crucial to re-humanize your business processes when appropriate. It can be as simple as retraining employees on how to write kind emails, providing feedback on a 360-degree review, or training leaders on how to facilitate group brainstorms and workshops.
Take inventory of the core technologies and processes driving the organization, and work with department leads to determine what’s working and what needs to be more human. For instance, after educating employees on the nature of effective collaboration, you may want to develop a new in-person process for how you kick off internal brainstorms rather than relying on virtual meetings, which have, in most cases, been overused, creating employee fatigue and frustration.
Become an agent of change, and take the necessary steps to transform the workplace by re-humanizing your organization, the workforce and business processes. How will you transform the culture of your organization?