Be Human to Make Work Human: Keynote address by Derek Irvine
At the 2021 HR Leadership Conference, Derek Irvine, Senior Vice President of Workhuman, shared how humans are changing the future of work and the world. Specifically, he focused on how to make work more human as well as how to fuel positivity, engagement, innovation, retention, and profit in the workplace. In his discussion, he takes key findings from his co-authored book: Making Work Human.
According to Irvine, there are 3 key characteristics to being human:
- Physical Self
- Mental Self
- Heart & Spirit
Irvine explains that it is key to bring these characteristics with you to the workplace to foster innovation, creativity, communication, as well as create a better workplace overall. These three characteristics will also help us navigate today’s changes, challenges, and opportunities.
Some of these challenges include issues around mental health, return to work, the gender gap, human rights, and much more. Many of these challenges have resulted in the creation of powerful movements such as the #MeToo Movement and Black Lives Matter. To deal with these challenges in the workplace, Irvine explains that we must define what it means to work in a human workplace.
Irvine and his colleagues at WorkHuman have produced a charter for the human workplace with the help of conference participants. Based on participant responses, a human workplace means:
- I do meaningful work
- I feel appreciated
- I have a work-life harmony
- I feel I belong
- I have growth
- I am paid fairly
- I have the right to privacy
- I feel safe a respected
- I work in a place that strives to protect the environment
After working for over two decades with different companies, Irvine was able to define three major action items to help make the workplace more human. These items are:
- Thank: How can we thank each other more often?
- Talk: How can we talk authentically more often?
- Celebrate: How can we celebrate more often?
The Impact of Thanking on Human Connection
According to Dr. Robert Emmons, a Professor of Psychology at UC-Davis, “gratitude is the ultimate performance-enhancing substance.” Irvine explains that, at its core, gratitude impacts our brain, gets rid of negativity, is contagious, and builds on itself. On top of this, there are emotional, physical, and social benefits to implementing gratitude in the workplace.
According to Irvine, gratitude impacts employees emotionally by encouraging them to be more optimistic and express more positive emotions at work. On a physical level, they will build up their immune systems, get needed sleep, and exercise more. Socially, gratitude helps them become more compassionate and forgiving.
According to Cisco, the more recognition employees receive, the better employee engagement. Irvine reveals that as long as you are authentic in your recognitions, you can never thank people too much. It is important to consider how often you thank your coworkers for their contributions and efforts. Is it daily? Weekly? Or do you only thank them annually?
If it’s annually, you may want to rethink your strategy. Irvine explains that a little recognition at a time is good for retention because it shows that you appreciate and value what your employees are doing. A LinkedIn study shows the more awards employees receive, the higher the employee and new hire retention rates. Merck even found that new hires are more than “5x less likely to leave during their first year” if they are rewarded frequently.
Irvine explains that we also need to be aware that the Hispanic, Black, and Asian populations receive less awards than the white population. Ohio Health found that recognition leads to greater feelings of inclusion. Being aware of this gap will help your organization address the problem and make necessary changes.
Talk: How Does Your Performance Management Process Support Human Connection?
According to the ADP, employees are “12x more likely to be fully engaged if they trust the team leader.” This trust can be built through authentic communication and regular check-ins. Workhuman iQ insights found that “employees who have a check-in with their manager are “2x more likely” to trust and respect their manager and “5x less likely” to be disengaged.” Check-ins are great because they allow employees to give and receive feedback. Regularly scheduled check-ins also help your team prioritize what is important and stay on top of tasks at hand.
Workhuman Analytics & Research also found that “frequent manager check-ins are associated with higher psychological safety for men and women.” Workhuman Analytics & Research also found in this data that “only 29% of female respondents said they check in with their manager every week.” In order to support your performance management process, you must support your employees first. Specifically, you have to connect and communicate with them. It will help you make your work more human and build a successful performance management process.
Moving forward, think about how often you check-in with your colleagues and how you can implement better communication.
Celebrate: How Are You Building Deeper Connections Between Employees and Across Teams?
According to Workhuman Analytics & Research, more than half of all workers say their last work anniversary was not even acknowledged. At the end of the day, celebrations matter! Irvine explains that “workers are 19% more likely to feel like they belong at work and 2x as likely to believe their company has a human work culture” when the organization celebrates employee life events.
Irvine leaves everyone with this message: Making work human starts with you. Change one thing. Thank one additional person each day. Talk authentically to one additional person each day. Find something to celebrate every week.
If you do all the things, Irvine ensures your organization will see success.
To watch Irvine and the other speakers’ webinars from the HR Leadership 2021 Conference, use code “MEA2021” to claim Member pricing.