How many times have you heard the words “human-focus” ? Hundreds? Thousands? We get it, it has become a bit of a buzzword in the last couple of years. But what does “human-focus” actually mean when it comes to the culture at your company? And why would you even care? We’ve worked with more than 60 companies prior and during the pandemic, and we found that those who truly nurtured a human-focused culture, were not only able to survive the pandemic, but they thrived! As a company, as a team, as individuals. When everyone was desperately cutting costs (particularly on employee wellness), these companies were increasing their investment on mental, physical and emotional health. And they are now stronger than they’ve ever been! This principle is simply too valuable to remain hidden. We saw that something had to be done and we’re here to do it. We want to share with you what a true human-focused culture is and why it is important.
We live in a fast-paced and competitive world, where talent, technology and investment are more accessible than ever. Culture is the only differentiator. But, what is corporate culture? In simple terms, it’s the values, beliefs and actions which guide your company. Importantly, “values, actions and beliefs” all relate to the people inside your company. They relate to humans.
To truly make the most of culture, it must be consciously and proactively designed to empower the humans in your companies. Employees, managers, directors. They must all be empowered in a truly human-focused culture.
Put simply, a human-focused culture is one in which all humans in the company are empowered to fulfill all of their needs. That is, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a powerful tool to use (see image below). According to Maslow, bottom-of -pyramid needs like physiological and safety needs must be met before motivation for higher needs in the hierarchy emerge.
In a true human-focused culture, the first 4 levels of human needs have been fulfilled. And individuals at the organization are empowered to focus on their growth needs, ie. self-actualization.
Self-actualization is the full realization of one’s creative, intellectual and social potential. It varies from person to person and it’s only possible when we’re able to identify our own strengths and have the tools to thrive through them. It is the stage where we stop thinking of all the things we’d like to be doing… and actually start doing them.
When your employees are at this stage, they are motivated internally. When they’re at this stage, they can thrive regardless of the circumstances. This is how you know you have a human-focused culture.
Although many people believe a that human-focus is equivalent to employee-focus, there is actually a world of difference between these two terms.
Have you realised that whenever “employee-focus” is mentioned during a conversation, all eyes in the room turn towards HR? As if employee wellbeing were something that can be achieved by a single department. When in fact, it should (it must!) be a company-wide effort.
We all know that regardless of how amazing HR is, if leaders don’t completely understand and champion wellness initiatives, no amount of benefits will make employees feel fulfilled and happy.
Which is where human-focus comes in. This concept comprises the entire company and involves each and every department. It’s a belief-system. A culture. A certain way to do things. It’s this philosophy which truly differentiates a company in a saturated market. This is how big companies and how big movements are built.
Recent events shone light upon people’s most fundamental and non-negotiable needs. Needs like being balanced, happy and inspired to smile every day. Organisations were forced to abandon their offices. To pivot. To do whatever was needed to survive. What was the difference between those who achieved it and those who didn’t?
To be specific, a human-focused culture. A culture which empowered people to be at the right place mentally, physically and emotionally. This was fundamental to remain creative, motivated, strong and committed to surviving.
We live in an increasingly competitive, uncertain and fast-paced world. The human factor is your company’s only differentiator. Your only competitive advantage. Your only guarantee for survival. So, what can you do to inspire and enable human potential? It begins with a human-focused culture. Making decisions which allow human needs to be met. Inspiring your people to grow. To learn. And be the best version of themselves every single day.