Shifting How We Talk About People at Work

Human Resources. Something about it has always struck us as off putting.

When you really think about it, it’s a dehumanizing way to talk about people. Resources are things we extract, categorize and add a price tag to – things like oil, water and energy. If we think of people as resources, capital or assets, we devalue their unique gifts and fail to meet the personal needs people have to make thriving at work a reality.

For a while we’ve leaned on the mission of ‘putting the human back into HR ’, particularly as the workforce digitizes. Computers are searching for keywords in resumes, robots are shortlisting candidates. When we couple that with organizations and leaders thinking about people as ‘resources’, it chokes their ability to empathize with the humans they work with. An ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality comes to life and bruises workplace culture.

It’s simple, human’s can’t be simplified. 

Reducing someone to a resource means we fail to see the complexities of people – with emotions, feelings and triggers. People have lives, histories, traumas. Ideas,  goals and ambitions. The human experience is dynamic.

How do we center the imperfect human experience in an industry that is embracing automation? 

Introduced to P4G by Imaginal Venture’s Purpose-led Business School and trademarked by Human Dynamics International we’ve opted for calling this work, human dynamics – to honour the complexity and wholeness of people. Rather than looking at people like pegs that fill defined holes, human dynamics approaches building environments, policies and culture thoughtfully. One that recognizes the full human – with sick kids, insomnia, religious practice, period cramps, and last minute, once in a lifetime opportunities. Human dynamics is all about connection – the energy put into, and received, through relationships. Human dynamics helps us lean into our shared humanity, so we can bring our full selves to work. 

Some of the things we do to foster healthy human dynamics:

  • Offer a Work-life Harmony policy with unlimited vacation that still holds contributors accountable to their work and play. Not only is time away from work aligned with a people-first mentality, but it is vital for good mental health and reducing the chances of burnout. It’s also a core factor in creativity and productivity, that allows for our team members to bring their full selves to the meaningful work they do. Volunteer time, time off for religious holidays not recognized by the western calendar, mental health days – are all supported and encouraged. And our work still gets done! We recognize the privilege of working in an organization that allows for this flexibility and understand that not all organizations or industries have the ability to do so. 

  • Foster continuous learning and support self exploration. Intentional space is made for employees to explore their personal values through the Barrett Model inspired by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It’s been proven that employees who develop their sense of self, feel greater purpose in life and work.

  • Develop stronger intercultural awareness and respect for alternative ways of knowing and doing. Through deeper appreciation for human differences, we can create safer spaces for employees to thrive. 

  • Weekly Head & Heart check-ins – we show up ready to support each other  through individual hardships related to work or personal life or share in celebration of those life moments that are meaningful to us.  (Read more about H&H’s in our blog: The Now of Work is Human).

  • We assign accountability partners for both work related and personal goals so the team can lean on each other when they lack motivation or need a listening ear. 

These are just a few of the ways P4G invests in the human dynamics of our team. We believe every organization’s HD strategies can and should look different, depending on what is most meaningful to the their teams and the environment they work in. We hope you are inspired to put the human back in human resources. How are you investing in your team? We are always inspired by hearing from you, new ideas and new ways of thinking. Drop us a line in the comments!

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