“Data with a heart, research with a goal to rehumanize.” This is the way Brené Brown, world-renowned thought leader, speaker, and podcast host, views Eric Mosley’s mission. As the CEO and co-founder of Workhuman®, Eric has spent the last 20 years working tirelessly to change the way we work forever, by cultivating an environment filled with purpose, meaning, and gratitude.
This type of environment is more essential than ever as we continue adapting to the challenges brought on by this year’s global pandemic. Which is why now is the perfect time for these two visionaries to come together and share their expansive knowledge with the world. In an insightful episode of “Dare to Lead with Brené Brown,” the pair does just that. Together, they discuss the importance of bringing humanity and connection to the workplace, using heart-filled data from “Making Work Human: How Human-Centered Companies Are Changing the Future of Work and the World,” the new book co-written by Eric Mosley and Workhuman SVP of Strategy and Consulting Derek Irvine.
The human decade
Eric has seen the power social recognition can have on an organization thousands of times. Now, the rest of the world is beginning to see it too. He explains, “over the last 10 years we’ve seen a complete dismantling of the old command-and-control type of management,” making room for a more human way of working.
As a result, Eric has coined this time “the human decade.” In the increasingly digital world we live in today, it’s no longer possible to separate work from the rest of your life. And why should you? We should promote a work environment where employees can share the important moments in their lives, whether it’s a birth, a marriage, or anything in between, because, as Eric knows, you can’t leave humanity at the door anymore.”
Modern culture management
In an effort to spread the power of humanity, Workhuman has created a framework for modern culture management comprising three pillars: Thank, Talk, and Celebrate.
Thank: “Thank is gratitude, it’s social recognition, and it’s so much more powerful when it comes from peers. A simple ‘thank you’ creates a very authentic, human moment that matters for those two individuals.” Eric continues, “Now, if you multiply that by tens of thousands of those occasions, just think of the social fabric, the deepened relationships, how everyone is lifted up.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult to create that authentic connection, which is why having a “deep well” of social capital, as Brené puts it, is so essential for an organization’s survival.
Reflecting on her own organization, Brené explains, “We’re in an events-based business, so when COVID started, we lost 80% of our revenue in 48 hours because every event across the world got canceled.”
Yet, about a month into the pandemic she remembers thinking, “We’re OK. Why are we OK?” The answer? “We had a very deep well of 30 people who saw each other, cared for each other, celebrated births together, and so on.” For organizations without that deep well, it becomes that much harder to weather the storm.
Talk: “Harvard conducted a study to determine the efficacy of regular check-ins with managers, and whether it made people perform better, and the answer was yes,” Eric explains. And what’s interesting is that it didn’t matter what was discussed during the meeting – performance increased regardless. To Eric, that’s another clear indicator of the power of human connection.
Celebrate: This year has been full of challenges, which is why it’s that much more important to commemorate the happy moments we experience. Referring to the Workhuman solution Life Events®, Eric recalls how powerful it was for his own organization during the start of the pandemic.
“I remember opening my browser, and I saw that right in the heart of that moment, one of our colleagues had her baby. The whole company jumped on and started congratulating her and giving tips and tricks on what to do with this bundle of joy. It was the most life-affirming moment I’ve had at work in a long time because in the doom and gloom of that moment, it reminded us that life goes on, we will get through this, and that what’s really precious is each other.”
The business case for re-humanizing work
In today’s business landscape, organizations must constantly innovate to stay competitive, so it’s necessary to create an atmosphere where those who drive the innovation feel safe to do so.
Innovation, Eric understands, “takes confidence and imagination. So when we create an environment where we are allowed be who we are and be vulnerable as you [Brené] have taught the world, we create a space to be our most innovative and our most imaginative, and that’s what ultimately creates the best companies, that freedom to express those thoughts you have inside you.”
For some, this might sound too good to be true, but both Brené and Eric have seen this impact firsthand and have the data to back it up. “One of the reasons I was drawn to your work,” Brené tells Eric, “is how data driven your organization is.” And what the 50 million recognition data points collected tell us is, above all, employees want a culture of appreciation filled with purpose, meaning, and gratitude.
Using these authentic moments, data scientists have been able to uncover clear patterns. For example, “We’ve been able to link the amount of gratitude that somebody receives in a year with the propensity to leave the company,” Eric explains. Across a number of industries such as technology, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing, receiving over five recognition moments in a year reduces turnover from 15 to 7%. With 12 moments, it drops to just 2%.
Larger themes regarding equality in the workplace are also demonstrated through this invaluable collection of data. As an example, Eric explains, “Women receive more awards than men on our platform in 150 countries around the world, but they receive less value per award.” To him, being able to see this discriminatory pattern in real time gives us the unique opportunity to mitigate unconscious bias in our own teams, and then translate that outside of work, too.
Implementing purpose, meaning, and gratitude
To truly cultivate an environment filled with purpose, meaning, and gratitude, Eric suggests, above all, enlisting the help of your employees. “In today’s world,” he reflects, “you need to inspire, you need to accept help, and you need to delegate the management of people’s happiness to each other.” By putting aside 1% of payroll, just one cent out of every dollar, you give employees the chance to notice and appreciate each other’s contributions, creating shared purpose and individual meaning.
Eric also brings up the importance of mentorship and the impact it can have on those receiving it. “I am always shocked, even now, that my words were so instrumental to someone. So, I continuously remind myself that it’s free for me, and I need to do more of it.” The most impactful leaders take what they have learned and share it with others, just as Brené and Eric have done throughout their careers.
As Brené succinctly puts it, “This conversation is such a reminder that when we create environments where we’re allowed to be who we are and be authentic and vulnerable, we create space for innovation, for real change and disruption. That is the key.” We are equipped with the tools we need to create this space, and now it’s time to make it happen.