WorkHuman is the Future: Andy Swann Q+A (Part 2)

July 14, 2016 Sarah Payne

Andy SwannIn the first part of our Q&A with WorkHuman Live speaker Andy Swann, we discussed organizational purpose—how to find it and why it contributes to a thriving culture. Andy also shared a bit about his work driving organizational change with a people-first mindset.

Even as we work to give people more flexibility with when and where they do their work, there’s still a high risk of burnout. In what ways can we incorporate more human workplace practices into our day-to-day operations? How does social recognition improve connections and relationships at work?

These are a few of the topics we discuss in part 2 of our Q&A below.


You once said, “The connection between ourselves and our work has never been closer yet more strained.” Can you elaborate?

A connection between us and our work is essential, but it can’t come at the cost of all else. We have a huge opportunity, through advances in technology and communication, to rebalance our relationship with work and because we can now be always on, the lines between work and home are blurring.

That should be a good thing and foster flexibility, comfort and a positive balance, but in too many examples we’re seeing the organization cling to the old controlling factors such as contracted hours, while expecting people to be answering phones and emails at night and over the weekend. Disengagement and burnout are at an all-time high, yet we have the tools to create the most balanced approach we’ve ever had.

My work is my hobby and given free time (not that I get much of that with four kids!), I spend it doing what I do for work. My work seems to be ‘being me’. This allows me to create a great balance, but I still need to be disciplined enough to switch off and enjoy family and leisure time. I’m really lucky, but it took a lot to get to this point. The negative impacts of being in the wrong organization, doing the wrong work, and succumbing to control are out there for all to see. I’ve been there and that’s why I’m driven to change it for everyone.

We’re able to automate many processes today and the fear is that the robots are coming to take our jobs, but there are some things that require humans—creativity, care, empathy. We’re at a strange tipping point and we need to realize that by treating people as humans—through trust, support, balance, and getting to know them for who they are, not the specific tasks they do—employers can create greater success.

“By treating people as humans…employers can create greater success.” @andyswann #workhuman
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This is a massive question and I’ve only covered the tip of the iceberg, if that, here. I could talk all day on it!


What is Simple Better Human?

Some time ago I realized that I loved working with organizations in creative ways—helping them to unlock creative leadership, increase innovation, introduce design thinking, foster collaboration, build team spirit, and engagement. I also realized that I didn’t want to be a straight-up consultant. When I took the time to think about what I really enjoyed doing, it was working with people and inspiring them through a collective experience – and that’s when Simple Better Human (SBH) was born.

SBH is a creative events company that creates a limited number of bespoke organizational development events for organizations each year. It takes solid theory and delivers it through exciting, creative experiences that can take the form of interactive workshops through to abstract experiential games spread over days! It’s about unlocking organizations through their people and helping to connect the leaders, teams, and organization.

We’re doing some really exciting things at the moment with some fantastic organizations. It’s great to create these events and experiences, but I really love how at the end we demonstrate how they delivered genuine learning and organizational impact. That ‘oh wow’ moment is my favorite.


How does social recognition contribute to a people-focused workplace?

Helping our people to form genuine, meaningful relationships and conversations is essential on so many levels. Allowing them to do so in the first place is still a major step for many employers.

Innovation requires ideas and ideas come from people. The more people and the wider the perspectives involved in contributing ideas, the more creative and insightful the outcome. By connecting people, we can open the flow of information, ideas, and communications across even the most complex global organizations, allowing everyone to contribute and participate—without having to destroy and restructure the entire organization.

All of this contributes to the connection between people, work, and the organization that I keep talking about, so by unlocking social recognition as freely as possible, we truly allow our organizations to be driven by their most powerful assets—their people. When people thrive, organizations thrive too.

“When people thrive, organizations thrive too.” @andyswann #workhuman
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What does WorkHuman mean to you?

WorkHuman is where everyone is more than a job title, where we can be our whole selves at work, treated and respected as such. It’s a recognition that as a human I may have flaws or quirks, but that’s what makes me unique and why, when I’m aligned with the right organization, my contribution can be even more impactful. By recognizing that we’re human, our organizations can start to recognize us emotionally and we can start to create those balanced, positive, productive connections between ourselves, each other, our work, and the organizations we work in.

It’s the future!

WorkHuman 2017

Want to learn even more about energizing your employees and creating a more human work culture? Join fellow HR and business professionals at the third annual WorkHuman conference, May 30th to June 1st at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Arizona. Click here to register.


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