Automation has enabled modern organisations to make giant leaps forward. This has led to significant benefits such as improved reliability, greater accuracy, faster results and reduced costs. However, with automation comes a risk – that the people who work in organisations may begin to feel like robots rather than the real live human beings they are.
To feel human at work a person requires 4 main things:
- Genuine relationships with other people
- Regular acknowledgement for their contribution
- A chance to apply and develop their unique talents
- Opportunity to think and stretch their brains
As we progress further and further down the automation road I think some modern workplaces will struggle to meet some or all of these needs.
To try to stem the tide of automation would be futile and counterproductive. What we need to do is to make sure our organisations embody human values and allow workers to be fully human in their roles.
Using the 4 dimensions I listed above, here are some things organisations can do to treat workers as humans rather than robots:
Relationships with other people
- Encourage people to collaborate across work areas
- Provide opportunities for people to learn in groups
- Ask people to use direct rather than electronic communication where feasible
- Make space for laughter among the serious work
Regular acknowledgement for their contribution
- Catch people in the act of doing the right thing and praise them
- Say thank-you genuinely and frequently
- Make it clear to everyone that their contribution is valued
A chance to apply and develop their unique talents
- Give people ample opportunity to use their greatest strengths
- Help people to continually improve their talents through tailored development
- Give people an opportunity to stretch through acting in roles and taking on new projects
Opportunity to think and stretch their brains
- Invite and reward creative new ideas from people at all levels
- Provide people with clear objectives but try to let them find their own ways to achieve these
- Encourage people to periodically disconnect from technology to plan and think
… and one more thing, perhaps most important of all
- Leaders need to bring their full, human selves to work, rather than their robot selves. This will make other feel that it’s safe to do the same.
As workplaces continue to capture the benefits of this amazing, technology-enabled age let’s keep at front of mind the importance of treating the people in our workplaces as real human beings. The result will not only be happier employees but also far more successful organisations.
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