Bringing humanity back into the workforce

Welcome to the very first post from my blog series, “On reflection”.

I’m privileged to meet and talk to people from all over the world about the future of work, employee experience and design thinking. Following every interview, I reflect on the conversation before creating a condensed post on key learnings and thoughts.

Like most people reading this, I have had experiences in the workplace where I was treated as a number, not as a person. I started to think about this problem and why it is the way it is. Why can’t we, as people, bring a little of our life into the workplace without being branded as high maintenance or disruptive?

If I have a problem at home, or I have a sick child, why can’t I share this with my work colleagues without being made to feel guilty? Is it time to bring humility back into the work place? Of course it is! In today’s world of mobile phones and tablets, have we lost the ability to communicate with each other on a face-to-face level? It is sad to admit, but I think we have.

In a recent podcast interview, Chantel Botha, Director of “BrandLove” the Cape Town based customer experience agency stated that “there seems to be a lot of fear around actually showing up and being yourself at the workplace” this seems to be a common theme all over the globe.

Chantel and her company have forged ahead with their thinking of how the workplace should ‘feel’. She believes that the problem is a systematic design fault that comes from the feeling of competition, you know, being better than the Joneses next door, or being able to tick all the right boxes when required.

“When the employee enters the workplace and scan their card and the turnstile turns and they get to their desk. They get very transactional and process oriented. Organisations can't understand why they cannot bring compassion, empathy and emotion to work and we look at how they've designed everything in the workplace. And it hasn't been designed for that. It's been designed for following transactional processes and methods”.

But why should people not be allowed to come to work as human beings? Surely, if this was to happen, productivity would increase and employee experience would be at a greater level.

As consumers we know what we like, we recognise service, not as something that is expected, like the food at a restaurant, but the fact that you can come away from any experience with memories, reflections of a great time that you have had, visions of the person that served you with humility.

As we progress into the future and the likelihood of robotics and automation looms over our heads, isn’t it now time to bring the human back into the workplace? We spend all of our time communicating through hand held devices, but isn’t it now time to re-humanise the workforce? Or have we already left it too late?!

To read the full transcript or listen to the interview.