How to Humanize Company Culture

how to humanize company culture

There’s a reason people talk about how to humanize company culture, and here it is. In breaking news (and you’ll just have to imagine this in my best Jake Tapper or Shepard Smith voice, depending on your news channel of preference), organizations are made up of human beings. Yes. I’ll let you catch your breath after this most startling of revelations.

Now as humans, I know we all try to put on a good show, but let’s get real — underneath it all, we’re a hot mess. We’ve got more baggage than Kanye West would have to pack for a trip to Self-Discovery Land. But through years of training ourselves, we’ve learned how to more often than not hide that messy, imperfect humanness behind a carefully cultivated veneer and present a more…ahem…”polished” version of ourselves.

But who are we kidding? We’ve all had those “life-handing-us-lemons” kinds of days, right? The days where the more chipper among us are talking the less chipper among us through how to make lemonade with the aforementioned lemons, all the while members of the latter, less chipper group are contemplating the amount of arch and velocity with which they’d need to throw those lemons to hit unsuspecting members of the former, more chipper group.

We’re humans. We’re imperfect. And sometimes, that imperfection is on full display. Take this guy, for example…

You see, we’re all just imperfect humans doing the best we can. And that hummanness doesn’t vanish the moment any of us steps through the doorway into work.

That’s why it’s critical that we see organizations as habitats for human beings (more on this below). Organizations that embrace this idea and build strategies around it will end up with happy, high-performing teams. That concept is the impetus behind what many call humanizing the workplace. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few ways to humanize company culture.

Organizations ought to be viewed as habitats for humans: places designed for humans to live, work, and thrive. #leadership #culture #HR

That idea, as simple as it sounds, could alter the trajectory of the lemons you’re throwing a company’s culture if applied appropriately. But where to start? I always advocate for the importance of learning to think differently before trying to do something differently. So here are some things to think through.

Think of workplaces as environments within which humans are living their lives.

In order to humanize company culture, organizations need to view their workplaces in that way — as environments where their employees are literally living a huge chunk of their lives. Think about it. Most folks spend most of their waking hours at work.

Build #companyculture as if people spend most of their waking hours at work — because they do. #leadership #culture #HR #management

To humanize company culture, organizations need to view employees as humans, not corporate cogs.

Remember those employees we’ve been talking about? We’ve been emphasizing that they’re humans, right? They’re not simply round pegs that fit into holes in our departments. A quick word of caution here. We’re all quick to nod our heads in agreement with the idea that folks aren’t cogs, but you’d be surprised at how much of what happens within organizations is still held over from antiquated management models within which employees were very much viewed as interchangeable parts.

Employees are humans — not simply pegs that fit into departmental holes. #leadership #culture #HR #companyculture

To humanize company culture, organizations have to help leaders view their work differently.

As leaders, we have to view our work differently too. It’s not just about projects and products, though that’s certainly part of it. Leadership becomes increasingly human and personal. It’s about serving people and helping them grow and develop — helping them become more fully human.

Leadership isn’t just about projects and products. It’s about people. #leadership #culture #HR #companyculture

To humanize company culture, organizations and leaders should focus on developing employees as not only professionals, but as humans.

Do we want folks to develop their job-related skills? Sure we do. But I’d argue that that’s such a limited view of development. As leaders, we have the opportunity — I’d even go so far as to say the responsibility — to serve our teams by coming alongside them and helping them develop as human beings in addition to helping them develop as professionals.

Within servant leadership, the idea is that we want people on our teams to become more free, autonomous, and whole human beings. And believe me, a more autonomous human being is the kind of human being you want on your team, not one who is going to need a map and a juice box every seventeen seconds to get through the day.

Great leaders develop employees not only as professionals, but also as human beings. #leadership #culture #HR #companyculture

So Now What?

So let’s think differently about our respective workplaces. Since most of us spend the bulk of our waking hours at work, our organizations are literally habitats for human beings. They’re places where clumps of flawed, imperfect, lemonade-making (or lemon throwing, depending on your mood) humans come every day to not only work, but live. Let’s work toward making our organizations places where not only do we generate revenue and produce widgets, but we also make at least that piece of our employees’ lives a little bit better.

You Tell Us!

What makes a workplace feel more or less human to you? What have you seen a leader or organization do to really humanize a workplace? What positive effects did it have? Let us know in the comments section below so we can learn together!

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