3 Ways to Put Humanity Front and Center This Week

March 16, 2020 Dan Miller

4-minute read

baby on laptop

We are living through unprecedented times.

The COVID-19 news cycle continues to escalate each day – dominating conversation, impacting our professional and personal lives, and changing our perspective on what’s truly important and what can be put on hold.

In the workplace – for many of us – we’ve replaced face-to-face collaboration with video conferencing. We make progress through sharing our screens, while we listen to barking dogs, crying babies, and the occasional “I’m hungry.”

Here’s the irony: Have we never felt more human?

What the last week has shown us is this: Despite the well-documented AI innovations and perceived threat of robots replacing humans, humanity rises to the forefront in times of crisis. Across the world, we are seeing and listening to a “humans first” anthem.

The “humans first” chorus is everywhere, and rightly so. Major business conferences postponing (including ours). The sounds of Coachella will wait until October. Even SXSW, an Austin staple since 1987, is dark. Schools closing. Hotels closing. Travel minimized.

Human safety first.

The acceleration of the COVID-19 impact hit home Wednesday night when NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced the postponement of the season. The next night, after the first round of the Players Championship, PGA commissioner Jay Monahan announced that the final three rounds would be played without spectators. Within a few hours, the decision was made to cancel the final rounds.

A flurry of sports postponements followed – the NHL and Major League Baseball. The Boston Marathon. The Masters. And while there is debate on how organizations are handling the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing a positive theme emerge – a human-centered mindset is everywhere.

When the Players Championship was canceled, golfer Rory McIlroy said, “Today's overreaction could look like tomorrow's underreaction. We just have to take it day by day and see where this thing goes.”

And, based on what we are seeing in the news, that seems to be the direction we are taking as leaders of humans. Demonstrating to people that we are putting them first is the fundamental step in creating a positive employee experience.

The qualities that make us most human – connection, community, positivity, belonging, and a sense of meaning – have become the corporate fuel for getting things done, for innovating, for thriving in the global marketplace. These will only be sparked in a human-centered culture.

Work has such an enormous influence on our personal well-being, our state of mind, the teams we’re on, and our families and friends, because it affects our overall psyche. The quality of our work experience radiates outward to everyone and every place we touch.

The evidence is mounting that the more human a workplace can be, the more likely it is to be successful.

So here are three themes to think about as you brush off your weekend and head into what could be a challenging week:

  • Thank your team today. If you’re working remotely, begin your videoconference by expressing gratitude to each member on the call. They have taken the time to join the discussion, in partnership to forge ahead and keep the business on track.
  • Talk to your team today. Make an extra effort to connect. Chances are your teammates have had a stressful weekend, navigating chaotic grocery stores while preparing for the week ahead. Be sure to check in with everyone to get a sense of where they are emotionally and physically.
  • Be sure to celebrate each other’s humanity. Life does go on, so be sure to acknowledge the milestones. Now is not the time to miss a birthday, an anniversary, or your teammates’ accomplishments that may not have anything to do with work.

Put your people first by cultivating a human-centered workplace – one in which people are supported to do the best work of their lives. Thank them, talk to them, and celebrate them. These times may be unprecedented, but playing your part to create and nurture a human-centered culture is a positive step toward keeping your team aligned, productive, and engaged.

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About the Author

Dan Miller

Dan Miller is the director of content marketing for Workhuman.

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