Why the future of work can only be human-centric and inclusive
There’s a big disconnect between what employees today are seeking and what organizations are providing. A Deloitte report shows that 47% of workers prioritize experiencing an inclusive culture as the most important cultural aspect at work.
While organizations tend to focus on how inclusion looks—prioritizing metrics and categorizing individuals by demographics—workers want leaders to focus on how inclusion feels.
Workers don’t want inclusion to be an add-on at their organization or a one-off program. They expect inclusion to be at the heart of the organization and foundational to their daily work.
When it comes to human centricity and inclusion, organizations need to do better.
What’s the current state of human centricity?
Workers don’t feel heard
We all want to have our feelings and needs acknowledged—wanting to feel heard is a basic human need.
Not surprisingly, workers desire a greater voice at work and want to contribute to impact. But across industries, most workers unfortunately don’t feel their voice is considered, according to the 2022 State of Collaboration report.
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Despite new systems and technologies introduced during the pandemic to promote greater inclusion, workers feel they are losing their voice within the workplace.
This poses a big risk to organizations, as 74% of employees report they are more effective at their job when they feel heard. Plus, 88% of employees whose companies financially outperform others in their industry feel heard compared to 62% of employees at financially underperforming companies.
Workers don’t believe leadership will become more human-centric and collaborative
Workers are losing faith in leadership to adopt a human-centric working model. Many feel strategic decision-making and collaboration are worsening, and there seems to be little belief in this changing for the better, according to the 2022 State of Collaboration report.
Workers want to feel heard but don’t believe leaders can make this happen. How can organizations address this issue and create more human-centric and inclusive workplaces?
How to become a human-centric organization
Prioritize individual voices
In many traditional organizations, leaders might say they value employees’ opinions but don’t follow through. Maybe they run an employee survey, but never take action on the results. Or they only address the easy issues but never the difficult topics. Employees get the impression that leaders are just pretending to care and learn it’s not worth sharing what they really think.
This means organizations are operating without the vital perspectives and knowledge of their people. By inviting workers into dialogue, decision-makers ensure they have the information needed to lead, and workers become more engaged and empowered.
Embrace collaborative leadership
Top-down hierarchies don’t work in today’s hybrid and purpose-led world of work.
Leaders need to involve everyone in making and shaping decisions that impact them, which requires a new model of collaborative leadership that is strong in transparency, empathy, and inclusivity.
Leaders must become more adaptive themselves in order to build adaptive businesses founded on mindsets that center on experimentation and innovation. This shift in mindset will then help create the supportive environment needed for wider collaborative practices.
Listen, learn, and adapt
Embracing a listen-learn-and-adapt approach with methods for different kinds of people to meaningfully contribute to strategic decision-making will result in agile businesses and engaged workforces. As organizations are facing pressure to keep up with constant change, involving everyone in organizational transformation becomes essential. Everyone’s contribution is needed to achieve transformative impact.
Here are three ways leaders can ensure transformation succeeds:
- Listen to workers and make them feel safe and supported. You can promote feelings of psychological safety by allowing people to share their thoughts anonymously.
- Learn by being curious and asking questions to better understand what’s going on with workers. Avoid being defensive in your responses, and instead reflect on what you hear and look for patterns.
- Adapt your practices based on what you’ve learned about what workers want. Remember that transformation is experimental in nature—you can try different approaches and see where they take you.
Organizations that ensure human centricity sits at the heart of working practices will become the most sought-after workplaces.
Enable human connections and relationships
Human centricity is relational at its core, yet the world of work has placed less value on developing relationships as a core strength.
Transformation is paving the way to a future where AI takes on the burden of repetitive tasks. As humans shift focus to more complex issues and creative thinking, we now need to place more emphasis on how we enable human connections and relationships.
These connections won’t always happen organically—especially with the rise of remote and hybrid work. Building connections among a distributed workforce requires being intentional. By adopting a facilitator mindset, leaders can design collaboration and create a shared virtual space where workers can share ideas, support one another, and feel part of a community.
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