We all recognize the power of kindness, fairness and relatability in work.
Proving the ROI and making it a part of your actual business strategy? That’s another proposition entirely – and perhaps where Workhuman come in.
In this webinar, ‘The Business Case for more Equity, Empathy and Humanity in the Workplace‘, the HR recognition tech specialists identified three pillars that you can use as a framework to integrate the human side of your business strategy. Joining UNLEASH’s recently departed head of content labs and insights Kate Graham were Lynette Silva Heelen, EMEA Principal Consultant and Practice Lead at Workhuman, and Lilian de Munno, ThoughtWorks’ Global Head of Talent Development to dig into how to make a start in bringing humanity to your business case.
The three pillars that should form the backbone of your recognition strategy:
- Checking in
- Celebrating work – the classic definition of emnployee recognition
- Celebrating personal lives and milstones.
Needless to say, this last one is oft forgotten. More so than ever, employees are keen to highlight – and employers should be equally as keen to recognize – that they have lives beyond the hours of 9 and 5. Lynette Silva Heelen opened proceedings with the $64,000 question: “Do you feel connected to the work that you do?”
Meaningful work, purpose and connection, psychological safety – all are crucial, interlinked elements, not just of a strategy of recognition but a culture of recognition.
And, it’s testament to human nature and its embrace of change (despite what some people might believe) that we’ve seen these attributes gain prominence amid the turbulence of the last three years, with more and more people finally realizing their value to decent, meaningful work.
And yet we find ourselves once again in a state of flux, as businesses seek to readjust to somewhere in between the office days of pre-COVID-19 to the fully remote global environment of the early 2020s. But we should be grateful and intentional, said Lilian de Munno: “Let’s not take in-person work for granted – this new balance is not one extreme or the other.”
For some, remote work is a luxury and for others it’s a deliberate choice to cultivate a better work environment: per Workhuman’s research, women and people of color reported wanting to work from home more so they have to deal with fewer microaggressions. “Let’s sit with that for a while,” suggested Lynette Silva Heelen, highlighting the obvious “intersectionality issues” that sometimes come with in-person work.
The conversation then turns to so called ‘boomerang employees’ with Lilian de Munno suggesting that businesses “need to pay more attention to them and embrace them”. At her organization, Thoughtworks, they have a mailing list for alumni, that they can join to keep in the loop with the company long after they have left – because you never know who might knock on your door further down the line (and it could be someone who can save you a lot in onboarding costs).
But ideally, you don’t want to have to rely on boomerang employees to solve your skills gaps and retention issues, with Heelen stating a self-evident but important truth, followed by a incredible stat: “the more recognition someone receives, the less likely they are to leave, regardless of industry or seniority,” and that, as per Gallup and Workhuman’s own research, “for an organization with a 10,000+ workforce, they can save up to $16 million in turnover costs – IF they make recognition more frequent.”
Lilian de Munno offered an easy way to begin: “You can foster that culture. Peer to peer recognition can really help”. And it’s not always about results, it’s often about process, noted Heelen: “recognize people for how they do things rather than just the results they get; recognize behaviors and not just outcomes, and you will see more of an impact on employee experience.”
Lilian de Munno returned to her favourite topic – culture. “You can have successful small gestures, but it’s all about the culture. Otherwise it feels artificial, not natural,” and Lynette Silva Heelen ventured to the garden to agree: “Culture is like a bonsai tree, it takes years to grow, but you can kill it in an instant.”.
The key stat from this session: When people agree that the recognition they receive in an organization is authentic, personal and meaningful, they are 44% more likely to say they are thriving in their lives overall – not just at work. Heelen was unequivocal: “We must do this. We don’t have a choice. This is necessary.”
Recognition, employee experience and empathy may all have been seen previously to be organizational values that were hard to pin a monetary value on. In the new world of work, the price you pay for inaction is crystal clear.
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