Open Colleges

How To Humanise Your Workplace Culture

by Mathew French
Posted: August 23, 2016

  Return to blog home


Workplace cultures can often lack a ‘human’ element; so what effect does this have on the workforce and how can businesses work to improve on this? Mathew French from Subscribe-HR tells all.

The nature of work and workplaces is changing rapidly. The Human Era of work has ushered in a search for trust: trustworthiness in others, in businesses and in brands.

Whether you’re interested in Business or Project Management, Human Resources, or are wanting to change your office environment, then understanding how to build a human workplace culture is shaping up to be an essential ingredient in the employee experience, culture management, and leadership. 

So, just how do you build a more 'human' workplace exactly? At its core, it is about creating workplace environments where people can show up at work and be fully themselves. People should be encouraged to be whole and imperfect, be real, and be accepted for this.

A discussion around 'human workplaces' boils down to several lines of enquiry:

  • What factors make a workplace more human?
  • How can leaders, managers and HR work together to create a more human workplace?
  • What is the impact of a more human workplace on individual and collective wellbeing?

Key drivers of the human workplace

Whilst the essential elements of a human workplace culture may be challenging to implement; what makes employees happy, and makes them feel good, not just about their work, but also about themselves whilst they're doing that work, comes down to some pretty basic fundamentals:

  1. Give employees a voice, and show that their opinions are both heard and valued. Encourage feedback and freedom of ideas to help improve the office dynamics.
  2. Be open and transparent about information; treat employees like adults and let them know exactly what's going on in the workplace. Honesty is a very undervalued commodity in most workplaces.
  3. When employees have access to learning and development opportunities that enable them to grow in their role from both a professional and personal standpoint, this correlates strongly with perceptions of a human workplace culture.
  4. The opportunity to feel and express gratitude, to recognise others in the team or wider organisation, significantly impacts wellbeing and creates a more human context in the workplace. Have you ever considered an employee of the month nomination, or staff awards at an annual event?
  5. When employees feel appreciated for what they do, and are recognised openly and transparently for their contribution and value, particularly from leaders and managers, this also has a significant impact on creating a more human oriented culture. Consider regular one-to-ones or bonus schemes to conquer this one.
  6. When employees are able to have fun and play together in the workplace, this freedom makes employees feel like the leadership team actually cares. Get involved with team days out or office drinks on a Friday.
  7. Ensuring that all employees are treated with respect is critical, and take action if this is ever challenged.
  8. When the personal values of employees are aligned with the core values of the organisation they work for, employees are more likely to perceive the workplace as being more human.

Key impacts of a more human workplace

How to humanise your workplace culture two colleagues having coffee

Traditional metrics such as good engagement, high levels of retention, and positive reflection on employer brand show significant correlation with human workplace practices such as recognition, transparency, and respect for individual needs and growth. Emerging metrics such as happiness, optimism, and attitudes toward change also correlate.

Organisations taking a proactive approach to creating a more human workplace have the potential to inherit significant rewards in terms of people metrics and ROI.

However, it can still be challenging to understand which workplace practices are most effective in achieving goals that can sometimes seem lofty and ambitious. They lie on the softer side of the equation and can be hard to measure accurately and is not an insignificant task.

What is interesting is that individual perceptions play a key role in determining where on the ‘human factor’ scale your workplace will be.

It is clear that whilst many businesses have considerable inroads to make in terms of transitioning to a more human workplace culture, employees respond kindly to perceived efforts with increased levels of commitment, enthusiasm, optimism and trust.

When whole organisations, that is leadership, management, HR and every single employee, are enrolled in and committed to creating a workplace that values the human factor, the benefits can be far reaching. The potential lies in creating a unified, human workplace culture that can give your business the competitive edge to be successful in today’s evolving business climate.

So there you have it; a human workplace culture can create a significant impact in terms of ROI and employee job satisfaction. Does your workplace need to install some more human elements? Are you a leader that could implement this into your workforce? It might be time to put some of these plans into action.

Curious to learn more about a career in Human Resources and create an amazing workplace culture? Find out more about the industry, the opportunities and career progression here.


Mathew French

Mathew French is an HR technology entrepreneur who has been leading cloud HR innovation for the past 15 years. Mat is the founder of Subscribe-HR, leading global provider of cloud e-recruitment, e-HR and talent management systems for medium-sized businesses.

Interested in online study?

See what it’s like with our 7 day free course trial.

Find out first-hand what it’s like to study with Open Colleges. Experience our world-class learning platform for yourself and discover how online learning can work for you. There are no obligations and no payment details required.

Start Today

Course areas