The Great Resignation, record-breaking consumer spending, inflation, supply chain disruptions, and the threat of new coronavirus mutations, as well as breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI) and the Web3 all point to the fact that the uncertainties that the business world and, in a much broader sense, the human civilization is facing today are not going to be transient. Gone are the days of concrete answers and converging solutions.
It can’t be denied, however, that people are stronger when they are aware of what’s happening at the moment (even if it’s not yet completely comprehensible) and what’s going to happen next. What they need today, therefore, is a return to something that stays constant and immutable, despite the many upheavals and confusions that try to veer it off its path.
And they’re relying on leaders to provide them with this knowledge and direction. But uncertainty can be difficult to deal with, so instead of focusing on what they don’t know, the path for leadership lies in guiding people towards what they inherently, naturally know – the knowledge of who they are, the knowledge of their humanity.
Humanity in the 2022 world of work
The war for talent is always raging on in the background. More than a third of the workforce is always casually or actively looking for jobs (looking, in fact, beyond just benefits and to company values and opportunities for development). The significance of engagement and retention is indispensable. In an increasingly uncertain and dispersed hybrid environment, it is more important than ever before for companies to understand how they can match employee expectations towards what they need from work.
The state of the business world in 2022 demands that more businesses put an emphasis on problems like employee health and wellness, human leadership, employee engagement, as well as pay critical attention to social and environmental concerns that plague employees’ very existence.
How Leaders can Incorporate Humanity in the Workplace
In a shift towards integrating their humanness within their work, employees are taking greater ownership of their work and building workflows and processes that are more aligned with their team’s style of thinking and working as well as their principles. To ensure that they get ample space and opportunity to do the same, leaders can take the following steps:
Embody Inclusive Leadership
Inclusion is the key to adapting to the workplace of 2022. And to be truly inclusive, the difference between equitability and equality must be clear. While equality gives everyone the same unvarying platform, equitability recognizes everyone’s unique differences and addresses them as such. True inclusion is about ensuring that people can carry their true selves to work and, hence, it turns on the principle of equitability.
What matters most, here, is that people have access to the resources and assistance they need to fulfil their greatest potential. It’s essential, therefore, to reinvent the approach to leadership by creating the room and opportunity for your employees to grow and prosper but also for leaders to consider alternative ways to being an inclusive ally and champion in the workplace.
Improve Team Collaboration
The numbers, the frequency of formation and disbandment, and constant allocations and dislocation of teams are all part of the modern way of work. And their ramifications are extensive. Traditional team ideals are unlikely to lead to success in this upcoming scenario.
That is why the chances of success of a company and its employees are hampered when collaboration fails. The lack of collaboration serves as a roadblock to new ideas and impacts, first, employee wellbeing and, consequently, engagement and productivity.
It will become increasingly relevant for leaders to purposefully create human connections that enhance motivation, inspiration, and participation as we move towards an increasingly complex, interconnected, and hybrid world of work.
A Table for Two
More and more workers expect their leaders to take a more active role in addressing issues such as climate change, modern slavery, and gender equality. And although leaders are themselves aware of these challenges and working ceaselessly to try to address them, some might inevitably find themselves lacking in knowledge regarding a few aspects. It’s impossible to know everything about everything, after all.
What’s important to note here is that trying to guide staff using an incomplete perspective is an irresponsible undertaking. But inaction is just as political.
For starters, leaders can demonstrate humility and a deep interest in what they don’t see and know to have a meaningful conversation. Growth and creativity can only take place if leaders find ways to include modes of dialogue into systems that are trying to wring it out.
No room for Unconscious Bias
Prejudice we don’t even know we have can be referred to as “unconscious bias” or “implicit bias.” It is what makes our brain make quick judgments and automatically trigger some responses that manifest themselves in subtle ways. The way leaders evaluate talent, performance, assignments, and promotions are all influenced by our unconscious biases.
However, leaders and organizations are capable of changing. It is possible to both come out of the veil of our own biases as well as influence the attitudes and prejudices of our employees. Awareness and open discussion about how biases manifest themselves in our personal and professional life is the first step.
Mutual Respect Through Genuine Care
Employees see their jobs as more than just a source of income, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care about fair compensation. However, there is a traditional tendency among organizations to rely solely on transactional considerations, such as wages, when it comes to maintaining and attracting new personnel.
The foundation of our concept of self is based on positive interactions with others. The way we treat one another as humans has a significant impact on whether or not people feel respected, valued, and acknowledged. That is why the leaders who show genuine care about what matters to their people have the best chances of success: and “What do you think about this?”, “How do you feel about this?” are good places to start. Paying attention is the most effective action you can take because there’s no replacement for developing strong human connections.
The 2022 world of work will be marked by a flood of changes in our organizational frameworks. And employees will helm the charge. Since they’re pivoting the way we work towards human values – dominated by compassion, wisdom, empathy, and care – organizations must pay heed and leaders come to meet them in the middle.
Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.
Marut Bhardwaj is the Country Head of Potential Project, India- a global consulting & professional services firm that partners with organizations to create a more human world of work. She is a leadership development speaker and facilitator transforming the competitive corporate chaos into a more humane world of work so that the organizations and its employees can all thrive together. She has conducted over 100 sessions for Potential Project, including many Fortune 500 companies, and trained closed to 3,000 employees across different spheres and levels.