I’m in the process of reading “Making Work Human,” by Workhuman® CEO Eric Mosley and SVP of Client Strategy & Consulting, Derek Irvine, and I just finished chapter six, “Human Moments That Matter.” This chapter focuses on human applications, a category of technology that deals with the intersection of data, people analytics, and artificial intelligence. While we live in a data-obsessed business environment, people are your biggest investment, not your biggest cost. It is essential to an organization’s success that diversity is celebrated, inclusion is embraced, and equity is valued.
Human applications bring people together through feedback and support while recognizing effort and celebrating achievement. Above all, they promote connectivity, engagement, and well-being in each employee because they are built on informal, moment-by-moment communication.
Why is it so important to study all the details of human behavior in the workplace, when most of this seems like common sense?
Best-selling author Adam Grant, a social scientist and professor of organizational behavior at Wharton, offers his take:
1.“First, very often research does not confirm our intuition. It challenges or complicates common sense, and that’s an opportunity to learn something new.”
2.“Second, even when research does confirm intuition, there are lots of practices that people might recognize as effective but underestimate how powerful they are.”
3.“Third, when a community comes together, they come together because there are meaningful relationships to be built and meaningful ideas to be shared.”
Human interaction is a necessity. We’ve witnessed firsthand through COVID-19 that we can interact not only in person, but also virtually. Kat Cole, COO and president, North America at FOCUS Brands states: “… being good to people and letting them bring their whole selves to work isn’t dependent on technology. The best of leaders have always done it.”
There is a relationship between inclusion and being your whole self. I identify this as being your authentic self. When you are your true self, you’ll notice that is when you are at your best. This includes coming up with great ideas and having a clearer vision. Inclusion enhances performance, which in return increases retention and organizations exceeding financial targets.
I had the great honor with being quoted in chapter 10, “The Future of Diversity & Inclusion,” where I state, “When people feel excluded, they lose their originality … They’re not being fully themselves. As a gay person who came out in his 20s, I know that living a lie is very, very difficult. You internalize a kind of separation from your surroundings, which prevents you from being fully engaged.”
Inclusion and authenticity require storytelling – having those uncomfortable conversations in our personal and professional lives. Organizations need to make space for employees to really get to know one another. You never know how much you relate to another person without knowing their story. Sharing and expressing our stories:
may diminish racism
breaks down biases
helps us connect with one another
creates discussions and helps to continue having conversations
builds true meaning in our relationships
Having these discussions and providing educational tools and resources about unconscious bias are also important. Unconscious bias refers to bias that we are unaware of, and which happens outside of our control. It is a bias that happens automatically and is triggered by our brain making quick judgments and assessments of people and situations. These are influenced by our background, cultural environment, and personal experiences. We are all in this together and understanding how this phenomenon is at work in all of our brains can help push us toward awareness, education, and subsequently, action.
Being your authentic self and talking about unconscious bias helps set the stage for innovation and help everyone notice when it’s happening. Human applications that focus on human connection in the workplace are going to continue to gain traction. We need technology that is employee-driven, collaborative, connection-focused, equally inclusive, and open to all. To learn more about how forward-thinking companies are tackling these issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion through human applications, I highly recommend you snag a copy of “Making Work Human” today.