4 Ways the Human Workplace Lifts HR

July 6, 2021 Aaron Kinne

three women walking and laughing in an officeAs we move past the pandemic and into a new way of working – all while bracing for the predicted talent exodus – the importance of what we at Workhuman® call the Human Workplace will take on a profound significance. What is a Human Workplace?

In her recent post, Workhuman senior content marketing manager Sarah Payne defines it as “a new model of work that leverages the power of human connection to build resilient, high-performing teams that thrive in the hybrid workplace – and beyond.”

Those who think the notion of a Human Workplace is merely a “feel good,” aspirational concept are missing the point. In fact, a Human Workplace has a real, measurable impact on the financial and cultural health of an organization. To this point, I recently explored why a Human Workplace is important for business, and how it can deliver the best of both worlds – a vibrant work culture and a healthy bottom line.

Likewise, HR is also charged with meeting metrics that have a direct and undeniable impact on an organization’s success. Recruitment and retention, employee engagement and experience, and aligning employees to organizational goals are just a few examples. In this post, let’s take a look at four ways a Human Workplace helps HR meet its goals.

1. A Human Workplace embraces DE&I.

I think everyone would agree that a truly Human Workplace has at its core a passionate commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). That’s because a Human Workplace, grounded in a culture of recognition, bridges the gap between diversity and inclusion, and creates positive, authentic moments that make every person feel seen, celebrated, and appreciated for who they are and what they do. In a Human Workplace, the voice of every employee is amplified, and historically overlooked groups can shine.

"In a Human Workplace, the voice of every employee is amplified, and historically overlooked groups can shine."

By taking the lead in promoting DE&I initiatives, HR has a prime opportunity to shape and enrich a workplace culture that will help it achieve its goals, such as attracting and keeping the best talent. Because let’s face it … knowing that an organization is fully committed to DE&I is a key consideration for many – if not most – of the candidates your company will be recruiting in the near future and beyond. That’s especially important now, given the challenges companies are facing as they try to hire workers.

As Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine note in their book, “Making Work Human,” “Diversity, inclusion, and belonging align organizational culture with the need to hire and retain the best talent. They make companies attractive to people.”

A Human Workplace that celebrates diversity and inclusion can have a positive impact on other key HR goals, as well. As Jen Reimert, VP, solutions consulting at Workhuman notes in a recent Forbes article: “Promoting and highlighting DE&I efforts helps employees feel safe, respected, and more connected, which can lead to a stronger sense of community and increased productivity. This drives happier, more engaged humans, which is paramount right now.”

2. A Human Workplace fuels HR metrics.

Authors Mosley and Irvine note that a Human Workplace – one grounded in gratitude and acknowledgment – “improves performance, deepens relationships, drives engagement, ties together geographically dispersed teams, inspires better work, and builds trust in your brand.”

And according to a survey Workhuman conducted in collaboration with SHRM, HR practitioners say their employee recognition program helps with organizational culture (85%), engagement (84%), employee experience (89%), employee relationships (86%), and organizational values (83%). These are all key aspirational goals that the top leaders in your organization will look to you, HR, to spearhead.

A Human Workplace also helps HR in its efforts to align the entire organization to a shared purpose and vision – especially when the organization has a comprehensive, values-based employee recognition program in place. Such a program puts the power of employee recognition to work, facilitating HR’s efforts to align people and culture to the company’s values and mission.

Because these programs are designed with rewards that map to each value, they integrate those ideals into employees’ everyday thoughts and actions – enabling humans to understand, reinforce, and evangelize the values your organization cherishes.

Learn why building a human workplace is imperative to business success.

3. A Human Workplace enables continuous feedback.

A Human Workplace embraces and nurtures two-way feedback throughout the organization. By fostering a continuous performance management model within the organization, HR can play a key role in evolving a workplace that makes it easier for every employee to support, mentor, and reward one another. Such a culture also boosts employee engagement – another key metric for HR.

"HR can play a key role in evolving a workplace that makes it easier for every employee to support, mentor, and reward one another."

In the above-mentioned post, Sarah Payne cites agile performance management as one of the five key elements that define a Human Workplace. She notes that “Growing your people needs to become an agile process, in the sense of agile values and methods, like putting people at the center of business decisions where they can more quickly experiment with processes and more readily collaborate with customers.”  

In organizations where true peer coaching and feedback is celebrated, employees support each other with real-time performance feedback – celebratory, instructive, and constructive. And that becomes a win-win for the employees, the company – and HR.

4. A Human Workplace boosts the employee experience.

Imagine your employees feeling a greater sense of belonging, purpose, achievement, happiness, and vigor. That would be a decidedly positive outcome for your company – and your HR organization, right?

According to The Employee Experience Index – a global research study by the IBM Smarter Workforce Institute and Workhuman – when these dimensions are thriving within an organization, the benefits are dramatic: better work performance (96% vs. 73%), significantly higher levels of discretionary effort (95% vs. 55%), and far greater levels of employee retention (21% vs. 44%).

Because it plays a fundamental role in boosting the employee experience, a Human Workplace becomes a key driver in achieving some of HR’s top priorities.

It’s a simple equation: A Human Workplace boosts the employee experience. And that, in turn, creates “a positive and powerful – and ultimately human – experience, in which employees are able to invest more of their whole selves into the workplace.”

The Human Workplace: good for humans, good for HR

While everyone “owns” an organization’s culture, HR plays a central role in determining what that culture looks like. As a recent article by the consultancy Egon Zehnder observed, “Culture is the soul of the organization and HR leaders are there to instill faith in the company by embedding ethics-driven values and rallying the workforce around a shared vision and mission.”

In the end, it comes down to a simple truth: A Human Workplace supports HR in its goals because it creates a culture where social connection, diversity, individual empowerment, community, belonging, and a sense of meaning can flourish and thrive.

That’s the kind of culture – a culture nurtured by a Human Workplace – that provides a fertile foundation to lift and support HR in its mission. And help it succeed.


What Is the Human Workplace?

The Human Workplace Needs Human Metrics

The Human Workplace Is The New Work Paradigm

About the Author

Aaron Kinne

Aaron Kinne is a senior writer at Workhuman.

More Content by Aaron Kinne
Previous Article
8 Strategies to Prepare for the Return to Work
8 Strategies to Prepare for the Return to Work

What should be the key focus areas for organizations? We discuss new research on this topic with ADP's chie...

Next Article
Recognition Help Desk: 5 Ways Recognition Helps You Coach Your Team
Recognition Help Desk: 5 Ways Recognition Helps You Coach Your Team

In the second installment of this series, discover how social recognition can help you become the most effe...