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How to Restore Humanity in the Workplace

A great deal has changed in the workplace in recent years, and one of the main differences is what employees are willing to tolerate. Workers demand to be treated more fairly than ever before—and will absolutely not settle for anything less.

“This is just money to us. It’s a job. It’s a point A to point B. It’s a means. But if you're going to utilize my skills, you have to treat me like a human,” Britteny Soto, Director of Talent Acquisition, JEDI, and Enablement at Encamp, explained during the latest episode of the “Untapped” podcast. “And I think that is what organizations are starting to see—and now they have to deliver.”

But how can you deliver on such a tall order? Britteny says it boils down to restoring humanity in the workplace, and she offered the following tips to help organizations do it.

1. Throw Away the Interview Gauntlet

Obviously you want the best talent, and the interview process will reveal how candidates measure up to your expectations. However, Britteny believes that interviews should not be handled in an adversarial way, giving candidates anxiety as they navigate a system where they feel they're doomed to fail.

“It's about meeting people where they are and treating them like humans. Why do our interview practices have to be a gauntlet? Why are we making it difficult? Why are we making it more challenging? I'm not saying bring anybody on and say, ‘Hey, you've never been a product manager? Be a product manager.’ No, I'm not saying that. Please don't,” she said. “But what I am saying is, why are we intentionally making people jump through these hoops as if we have some sort of power that be?”

One way companies can throw away the gauntlet, says Britteny, is by being upfront with all candidates about what they can expect during the interview process.

“A human first approach means, ‘Hey, you're going into this interview, this is not only who you're meeting, but this is what they're going to talk to you about and this is what they're assessing you on,’” said Britteny. “Now you don't have to focus on all of the nuanced issues of like, ‘Oh, is this person going to like me because I look this way or act this way?’”

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2. Provide Tools and Training 

Britteny says one important area where companies can meet employees where they are is related to technology. It's not fair to assume that every employee is up to speed on all the cutting-edge technologies available—especially if you have workers from older generations or people with disabilities in your organization. As a result, she suggests that companies not only give employees access to the tools they need, but also provide training to ensure they’re able to effectively use those tools.

“It's about giving people tools, but then also training them and making sure they feel as if they have at least baseline competencies in the systems,” she said. “We can't hold it against them coming in, but we can make sure we provide them with training to be successful once they're here.”

3. Show, Don’t Tell 

Organizations talk about their culture all the time, but Britteny says they need to show people what their culture is—and how their employees are thriving as a result of it. This makes their claims more real and human to candidates.

“People aren't looking at companies with the same level of luster in the perks anymore. So what can we give them? We can show them that our benefits work; we can show them that work-life balance is real—all the things people have been saying for years. For years, people have been saying, ‘This is the best place for parents.’ They've been saying it, but do we see it? Not really,” Britteny said. “So show me your team climbing mountains and taking vacation time and not taking their computer. Show me that they have a life outside of your company, because the people are the culture. Why else will we have a culture, if not for the people? The people are your culture, so display them. Show me that your benefits work.”

Britteny stresses that the more organizations are able to make their workplaces more human, the more likely they are to make their employees happy—and avoid many of the staffing pitfalls employers are facing today.

“I think that's the future of talent attraction and talent brand. People still want to do meaningful, challenging work. I think that's the problem with quiet quitting, it's seeming as if people don't want to do work anymore. That's the narrative, but that's not the case,” she said. “We still want to do the work. We just want to be appreciated and respected for the work. And if we're not getting that, why are we here? And I think that's universal and what's happening is that people don't want to step up to the plate and appreciate people for that work, and they don't know how.”

For more of Britteny’s insights on how to make your workplace more human, listen to the latest episode of the “Untapped” podcast, where leaders who are advancing the equity landscape share their insights with host Tariq Meyers.

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