A growing body of research on employee motivation affirms the need for companies to create more human workplaces that lead to positive experiences.
To help you grasp how businesses can cultivate more happy and human workplaces, I've compiled some evidence and best-in-class examples of what humane companies are doing to clearly communicate, "We care about our employees."
1. They value their employees' health and physical comfort.
More health-conscious companies allow workers the freedom to take frequent breaks, take walks around the campus, have more outdoor and walking meetings, and participate in fitness challenges.
ThoughtSpot, a Palo Alto, California-based search and A.I.-driven analytics company, gives all engineers ergonomic keyboards and mouses, and brings in a physical therapist every other week.
And while recent press has crucified standing desks for doing more harm than good, more human and caring workplaces are offering adjustable standing desks.
One 2014 study found that adjustable desks, which people can raise when they want to stand and lower when they tire, reduced their sedentary time by more than three hours a week, increased their sense of well-being and energy, and decreased their fatigue.
2. They give their employees voices.
Human-centered companies not only let employees have a voice and give advice on the business, they also take it up a notch by acting on the advice.
By giving employees safe space to voice their opinions and actually implementing their ideas, staff feel included and valued for making a difference in the company. Such empowerment triggers intrinsic motivation and boosts performance and productivity.
Take, for example, property and casualty insurer Acuity, a $1.3 billion giant with more than 1,000 employees. The company ranked No. 9 on Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For list, in part for how it allows employees the freedom to make major decisions, such as the charities Acuity donates to.
3. Their leaders communicate with transparency.
The reason most leaders are not transparent is because they believe they will be viewed as less authoritative, that the credentials they worked so hard to attain will lose their power, leverage, and gravitas.
Our senior leadership team is transparent. We discuss the company's long-term vision, financial performance along with the key initiatives and priorities that management is working on to drive the company forward. Sharing our vision, results, and how our team fits into the key initiatives helps our team understand the 'why' behind what we are doing, which builds trust and commitment to our shared culture and goals as a result of the transparency.
As such, turnover at Outdoor Living Brands has been less than 10 percent for the past several years (and some of the folks that left did so to start or acquire one of OLB's franchise businesses).
4. They foster an entrepreneurial spirit in the workplace.
Starting at the hiring level, when you bring in bright, entrepreneurially minded employees who take initiative and have a natural inclination toward curiosity, you've got the blueprint for a great workforce.
To get the wheels in motion, leaders at any level must consider their employees as business partners. When leaders engage their workforce in an entrepreneurial way, making them feel as if they own a small business, good things begin to happen.
This entrepreneurial spirit of engaging and collaborating is not pie-in-the-sky stuff. It's an attitude that you allow to filter down to the staff level so they can actively seek out change, rather than waiting for marching orders.
To me, an entrepreneurial spirit is a way of approaching situations where you feel empowered, motivated, and capable of taking things into your own hands. Companies that nurture an entrepreneurial spirit within their organization encourage their employees to not only see problems, solutions, and opportunities, but to come up with ideas to do something about them.
5. They never forget the importance of work-life balance.
Human-centered organizations that care about their employees' productivity and well-being will not tolerate a culture of overwork that can potentially burn them out. They safeguard family priorities and the employee experience with work-life integration reinforced daily.
A compelling example of this reinforcement comes from Daniel Lubetzky, Kind founder and CEO. Named a "Hero of Conscious Capitalism" for his work championing purpose alongside profit, Lubetzky wrote a New Year's letter to his team members (employees), which he was Kind enough to share with me. He stresses the importance of putting family first. Here's an excerpt from his letter:
[A]s we value each other as the KIND Family, make sure to also prioritize and appreciate your own families -- take nobody for granted, enjoy your loved ones, share how you feel, and soak them up every day. We all have a commitment to each other to work hard, but we have an even more important contract to ensure balance in our lives and with our loved ones.