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5 Tips for Human-Centered Work Culture

Milena Regos

In a world obsessed with busyness and chasing success at all costs, we end up burnt out, stressed out, and lonely. At Unhustle, my vision is to shift this paradigm. It’s about finding the sweet spot between doing and real living, embracing a lifestyle that balances life enjoyment with purposeful achievement. This is the future I’m creating with Unhustle—a sustainable, prosperous future for ourselves, our families, communities, teams, companies, and the planet.

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What is one tip you have for leaders who want to create a human-centered work culture based in empathy, authenticity and compassion?

To help you create a human-centered work culture in your organization, we asked business leaders and CEOs this question for their best insights. From promoting people-centered behaviors to connecting closely with your teams, there are several strategies that may help you build a work culture that thrives on empathy, authenticity and compassion.

Here are five insights for creating human-centered work cultures:

  • Promote People-Centered Behaviors
  • Encourage Employees at all Times
  • Nudge Employees to Rest and Recharge
  • Focus on Employee Well-being
  • Connect Closely With Your Teams

Promote People-Centered Behaviors

As leaders, you dictate how the work culture will operate. This allows you to promote the behaviors and actions you want to see in your workforce. If you want them to be empathetic and authentic you will need to promote that type of behavior. Employees that display these behaviors through their actions should be recognized and rewarded. My major tip to leaders who want this type of workforce is to recognize and promote the people that exhibit the traits you want in your work culture. When you elevate the employees that meet the expectations you set the tone for the rest of the employees to follow. You as the leader have all the power to dictate how your organization will function as it all starts from you and the message you send through your actions. Just saying you want your workforce to act this way and not promoting this through all ranks of leadership will ensure you never accomplish this goal.

Mark Smith, University of Advancing Technology

Encourage Employees at all Times

One amazing tip for leaders who want to create a human-centered work culture based in empathy, authenticity, and compassion is to always encourage your employees no matter what! This can be done in a variety of ways and you should always instill some form of encouragement, even in a scenario where your employee made a mistake. Every good employee fears messing up their work or not doing their work well enough at times and even a simple compliment or word of advice can encourage them to achieve their goals! Another example is when you assign your employees new or difficult projects, make sure to support and encourage their progress as much as possible!

Bill Lyons, Griffin Funding

Nudge Employees to Rest and Recharge

A simple “hey, by the way, when’s the last time you took some time off?” is all it takes. Employees want to know that their company has a culture that values rest and recharging. And people managers are the ideal ones on the front lines to pay this value off with direct reports.

Note that this is especially important at companies with an unlimited PTO policy. In theory, unlimited PTO is great for employees, because they aren’t restricted by a set number of vacation days each year. But in practice, too often, “unlimited” leads to employees feeling guilty for taking days off, and not taking enough time to recharge. Cultivate a culture where people managers openly encourage PTO and take a vested interest in their people recharging. It makes a huge difference.

Zach Grove, Zach Grove

Focus on Employee Well-being

To create a human-centered work culture, you should focus on employee well-being. If your employees are stressed, overworked, and unmotivated, and their work-life balance is disrupted, you cannot say anything about the human-centered work culture in your company. There isn’t any. So change that. Create a guidebook with some well-being rules like keeping reasonable working hours or not answering emails after work. Encourage them to take care of themselves by spending free time actively, doing yoga, using mental health phone apps, or seeing a therapist. Motive them to take action by offering health and sports packages. Once you lay some foundations, your human-centered work culture will develop on its own.

Agata Szczepanek, MyPerfectResume

Connect Closely With Your Teams

The most important thing a leader can do is meet with each team member regularly, let them talk about anything they want to talk about (private and business), and listen!
When I say listen, I really mean listen – understand what they’re saying and what it means. That way you will learn what concerns them that might affect the work environment and outcomes. Most likely, there is something you should do to prove that you have been listening and that your presence as a leader makes an impact.

Did they tell you about their child’s birthday party? Ask them if they would like to take the afternoon off on that day and change the time of that meeting that they would miss!
Did they tell you about a task they’re working on that could be done quicker if one of the tools was replaced or upgraded? Check your department’s budget! Even if you cannot upgrade that tool right now, tell them that you looked into it and that you will take it into account for next quarter’s budget!

Julia-Carolin Zeng, Charlie on the Move Ltd

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