In recent years, there has been an overwhelming shift toward automation in the work force. More and more organizations are turning toward data analytics, AI, and other novel business strategies to maximize efficiency and productivity. While these tools often make workplaces more effective, they also create working environments that can drain and alienate employees. With too much automation and technological integration, employees can begin to feel more as though they are the cog in a large gear as opposed to a unique, effective individual. As organizations continue to move into a more digital age, it is important that they work to create a human-centered workforce. Fortunately, L&D can help many do just that.
What is a human-centered workforce?
A human-centered workforce focuses on bringing the values of human interaction to the workplace. Empathy, belonging, teamwork, engagement, kindness, respect, and many other traits make up a strong human-centered workforce. The most sought-after employees are no longer content with high salary and good benefits; they want to work for organizations that respect their values and individuality. Creating and utilizing effective organizational culture has become a go-to recruiting method as of late, and for good reason. Companies that show their current and prospective employees that their work is about more than numbers and statistics will see better employee satisfaction and retention.
Why your organization should transition to a human-centered approach
Crafting an effective workplace starts with having employee buy-in. No programs you implement will be successful if your employees don’t see their value or need, and this applies to all work, not just L&D. When working to improve employee retention and engagement across departments, roles, and teams, it all starts with a healthy workplace culture. By implementing a human-centered approach, your workplace culture will appeal to both current and prospective hires and will give your organization an identity and purpose. A human-centered approach can also improve employee soft skills and collaboration, which in turn leads to better business outcomes. In a world that is turning increasingly automated, it is a no-brainer that using a human-centered approach will improve nearly every aspect of employee work.
Leveraging L&D to create a human-centered workforce
As mentioned above, learning and development is uniquely positioned to help create a strong, effective human-centered workplace and workforce. With nearly unlimited learning modes that can leverage engagement, scalability, education, and professional development, there is a correct L&D solution for exactly what your company needs. Below are the four main strategies we suggest you use to maximize learner outcomes.
- Embrace flexibility. 64% of workers say that flexible scheduling is an important factor of their overall workplace satisfaction. Creating experiences, both in the learning and development world and in general business processes, can help your employees feel more valuable, flexible, and most importantly human. Rigid scheduling of large chunks of time is still necessary from time to time, but working to create a more flexible work environment is a great first step in creating a human-centered workforce. Worried that employees may not be able to handle a transition to a more relaxed, flexible workforce? Consider implementing an L&D program that develops critical soft skills needs such as time management, collaboration, and workload management.
- Recognize and reward achievements. Employees appreciate being recognized, if not rewarded, for outstanding work. At Dashe, we’ve helped many organizations implement learning and development programs that focus on creating memorable, rewarding experiences for learners. This alone can be a great way to improve employee satisfaction and make the workplace feel more “human.” While the classic “Employee of the Month” may be a bit cliché in 2022, it was created and is effective for a reason—employees enjoy recognition outside of their reviews and the occasional praise from teammates. Not to mention, building a concrete reward experience is often cost-effective and scalable.
- Prioritize employee wellness. Employee wellness programs have become very popular in recent years, and for good reason. Modern employees expect their employers to provide opportunities for them to relieve stress, interact casually, and provide feedback on their work experience. Employee wellness programs can take on many forms, but often the most pressing needs for employees are workload management and skill development. If your employees do not have the skills they need to work efficiently, they will often feel overwhelmed. Creating a learning and development program that educates employees on process can save company time, money, and reduce stress.
- Set goals. As mentioned above, employees expect a lot out of their employers—that includes professional development. Organizations can create a human-centered workplace by setting goals for individuals and teams that don’t specifically revolve around numbers. Often, employees are given goals that are developed through algorithms and metrics. While these goals are often critical to ensure companies meet their goals, creating more personal, qualitative (as opposed to quantitative) goals can make the workplace feel more human. L&D specializes in creating education programs that target personal growth, so you could consider creating a learning and development program encouraging personal goal setting and conversations surrounding those goals.
Continuing to prioritize workers in an increasingly remote work landscape
When many companies shifted to remote and hybrid environments, more than just physical space was taken out of the workplace—for many, human interaction was eliminated or severely reduced. Taking actionable steps to create a human-centered workforce in 2022 means you will be creating an environment in which workers feel both valued and valuable. Fortunately, learning and development professional have been creating programs that foster personal growth, interaction, and education on best practices for remote work since the beginning of remote work. If your organization wants to take the next step in creating an attractive, efficient workplace, focusing on a human-centered design is critical. Work environments that isolate employees are unfortunately here to stay, but you can quell the negative effects they provide by creating learning and development programs that prioritize employees.