Workplace Culture

3 Ways to Create a More Human Workplace

By Lorna Borenstein

Apr. 10, 2018

It’s official. We’re in a talent war, and employees are no longer conscripted soldiers — they’re volunteers. They’re with their company because they want to be.

Although it’s counterintuitive, companies need to stop focusing on recruitment. Instead, they should focus their efforts on creating the type of environment employees want to work for — a more human workplace that embraces the employee’s whole self, which leads to high levels of engagement, productivity and retention.

Here are three ways companies can create a more human workplace that attracts and retains top talent.

1. Put Employees First. Organizations that succeed put their own people first because they recognize that their employees are the key to creating long-term value. It’s not just giving employees free food. It’s feeding their souls and creating an environment where they can have an impact.

Listen to your employees to inform your culture. As Pinterest’s Head of Culture Cat Lee told me, “We created Pinterest by collaborating with our Pinners, and similarly we create our culture by collaborating with the people who are at Pinterest.”

Define your company values and connect daily work back to the mission. For example, freedom is one of the five values at Grokker. Every week we have Work-From-Home-Wednesday, and the whole company participates. We give employees the freedom to take care of themselves and their families, and in response they commit to the company.

Lorna Borenstein, CEO of Grokker

2. Prioritize Employee Well-being. The more effectively leadership supports employee well-being, the more likely employees are to experience engagement, loyalty, job satisfaction and positive energy at work. This in turn lowers stress and increases overall positive sentiment toward the company.

The cost of presenteeism — where employees show up for work but don’t perform at full capacity — is 10 times the cost of absenteeism, according to a Global Corporate Challenge report. Rather than focusing on how to keep employees from taking sick time, target productivity while employees are already at work by prioritizing well-being.

Employees expect a wellness experience that is built into every work day, like nutrition awareness and exercise-friendly workplaces. You don’t even need to spend money to see impact. Employees who are able to take a break every 90 minutes report a 30 percent higher level of focus than those who get no breaks or only one. They also report a nearly 50 percent greater capacity to think creatively and a 46 percent higher level of health and wellbeing. Identify low-budget, high-impact ways to prioritize the wellness of your workforce. Companies can, for example, schedule 10-minute group stretch breaks at 10am and 2pm daily or stream a video to do together

3. Rethink the Employee Experience. IBM’s Employee Experience Index study found that employees with a sense of purpose and enthusiasm in their work are more likely to perform at higher levels and contribute “above and beyond” expectations for their performance — and are less likely to quit.

Move beyond perks and one-off engagement programs to create a seamless, holistic employee experience that inspires people to do their best work. Instead of thinking about how to solve specific problems, brainstorm ideas that focus on the greater goal: creating a powerful employee experience.

Here’s a very simple metric you can employ to measure your employee experience: Employee Net Promoter Score. Inspired by the gold-standard metric for consumer satisfaction, eNPS is used to understand employees’ overall engagement with the company. Have employees rate their feelings on the simple statement, “I would recommend my workplace to others” on a 10-point scale. Employees with 9+ ratings are generally considered promoters, while those with ratings ranging from 0-6 and 7-8 are labeled as detractors and passive, respectively. Use this formula: Employee net promoter score (eNPS) = % promoters – % detractors.

Research demonstrates that when we give our employees what they want — purpose, belonging and balance — the business sees success. Since 1998, the companies on the Fortune ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ list have consistently outperformed the S&P 500 stock index by a ratio of almost two to one. There’s a reason the same companies consistently make these lists. They recognize that listening to their employees, putting their needs first and promoting their strengths and capabilities promotes happiness and produces results.

Lorna Borenstein is the CEO of employee wellness technology company Grokker. Comment below or email

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