Is a Human-Centered Workplace Good for Business?

by | Apr 11, 2023 | Hummingbird Blog

Last month, we began sharing our human-centered workplace culture framework with the world outside of Hummingbird. This is another milestone in our journey firmly grounded in our commitment to igniting the conversations, the reflections, and the actions necessary to evolve workplace cultures everywhere to be more human-centered.

People are essential to the success of our businesses and there are studies proving the ROI of investing in their experience. While we have made progress evolving our organizational systems, cultures, and experiences in ways that support humanity – we also know there is more work to be done.

Our human-centered workplace culture framework is a strategic approach to accelerating the evolution of workplaces towards igniting the potential of our employees. 

This month’s blog offers an example of the core belief behind the framework: 

  • fostering a workplace culture where humans thrive, 
  • in ways that meet the unique needs of your employees, 
  • is an investment in the success of your business. 

I welcome your thoughts, questions, and reflections as we take this journey towards humanity in the workplace.


Why am I starting with a ‘good for business’ example in my first blog around this framework?

While it comes in many forms – questions, challenges, skepticism, etc. – the concern I hear most often, particularly from senior leaders, is about the business value of investing time, resources, and energy around initiatives like DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion, well-being, etc.). 

What I know is that a human-centered workplace culture delivers a return on investment (ROI) beyond the positive impact on employees. The impact of centering humans in your business – in significant, meaningful, and tangible ways – has the potential to distinguish you from competitors in the marketplace, contribute to your employee value proposition (EVP) – discussed in my blog last month, add to your bottom line results, meet the changing landscape of an increasingly diverse workforce and the evolving expectations that employees have for where they choose to work, and more!

At Hummingbird Humanity, we say good for humanity, good for business. When we make human-centered business decisions that honor the humanity of our employees, through an understanding of the unique needs of our employees, our efforts will positively impact our business results.

So let’s start with an example:

(the context)

The evolution of our workplaces to support ongoing, full-time, remote work has had many benefits which are worth recognizing and protecting – particularly for working parents. We also continue to learn about the positive impact remote working has had on employees from marginalized communities – and how those shifts contributed to the success of many organizations during a very challenging time. 

(the impact)

One of the emerging challenges we hear from employees, across a diverse array of workplaces, which is likely a result of our evolution to remote working, is that they feel less connection and community than they did pre-pandemic. 

We are also hearing more and more that employees are experiencing a gap in trust with their organizations and, specifically, with their senior leaders. 

I am an advocate for preserving and protecting, as much as possible, remote working options as I have learned, over the last three years, that one can develop meaningful relationships with people they haven’t met in person. At the same time, I also appreciate and recognize that there is no true substitute for building a connection with another human in person.

How do we preserve the benefits of remote working while also fostering a culture that meets the human needs for connection and community? What changes do we make to foster trust if we aren’t together, in-person?

(the humanity lens) 

While the pendulum is swinging back towards in-person working, remote working, which includes hybrid workplace models, is here to stay. We must figure out how to build connection, community, and trust within the context of this new reality – rather than returning to our pre-pandemic workplace working norms which had their own challenges. This means taking steps to understand how your employees are feeling, exploring the ‘why’ behind those sentiments, creating an action plan, communicating that plan, and seeing it through.

(the business lens)

Investing in understanding and impacting the experience of your employees, when done well, is a proven driver of increased employee engagement. When employees are more engaged, they are significantly more likely to give discretionary effort and less likely to leave the company – two of the many potential positive outcomes – and these outcomes lead, directly or indirectly, to increased revenue and/or decreased costs.

(humanity + business)

It is a business imperative for senior leaders to invest the time and energy required to foster connection, community, and trust with their employees – in ways that meet, acknowledge, and accommodate the unique sentiments, needs, and realities of the employees in your workplace. 

Taking these steps knowing it’s the right thing to do for the humans in the workplace plants the seeds of trust with employees, and that trust is developed over time, through consistent actions. And, taking these steps,with confidence that investing in employee experience delivers an ROI also reflects the responsibility leaders have for making decisions that contribute to the success of the organization. 

(the framework)

This example is one of many demonstrating how the philosophy – good for humanity, good for business – behind this framework delivers a return on investment. The framework itself, which I’ll share more about in the days ahead, has much more to offer as we take this journey of bringing humanity to the workplace. I’m excited!

Continuing the Conversation

Does the thinking behind the ROI of a human-centered workplace culture resonate for you? Why or why not? What parts of this framing resonate with you? And which spark skepticism?

How might you challenge your own beliefs, assumptions, and understanding of employee experience best practices? AND, most importantly, the sentiments of the employees in your workplace?

What do your employees need – actions, decisions, feelings – from your company, leaders, and managers to honor their humanity? What is your level of confidence in this understanding? Are you taking steps that will meet the needs of your employees in meaningful ways?

Brian McComak

Brian McComak

CEO / Founder

he / him / LGBTQ+

Brian McComak is the CEO & Founder of Hummingbird Humanity. He is a consultant, speaker, author, and facilitator with over 25 years of experience in DEI, HR, culture, change management, internal communications, and employee experience. He is an openly gay man and a person with a disability who shares his lived experiences in service of fostering workplaces where humans thrive.

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