The Future of Work: How Human-Centered Policies Will Set Your Company Apart

Self-driving cars, robots, and other automated technologies are changing the way we live. Tech is also changing how we recruit, hire, and treat our teams. But one thing’s clear, in order to thrive in the new world, you can’t forget the needs of your employees. Human-centered policies are central in the future of work, and will not only help you retain workers, but will also set your business apart in the marketplace.

Personal is the new flexible. In the future, instead of creating blanket policies, companies will be listening, and adapting, to the needs of individual employees. Employees in the digital age will also have higher expectations of their employers. Here are some of the ways that companies can enhance the experience and productivity of their workforce and modernize their policies for the future of work.

Invest in employees’ well-being

Above all, remember that employees are human beings, not resources. Being supportive means caring about the overall employee as a person, not just his or her performance at work. When setbacks occur, meet them with empathy and concern.

Acknowledge achievements.

Rather than focusing heavily on motivational incentives, establish a set of clearly defined goals, then celebrate when those goals are met. Recognition for a job well done helps to create a positive organizational culture and also encourages employees to excel in their jobs.

Give employees autonomy.

Part of building a supportive foundation is learning to trust that your employees will use their workday to accomplish their tasks. By creating a strong sense of autonomy, employees will feel empowered rather than micromanaged.

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Adopt a flexible work schedule to increase your employee productivity. Smart leaders will allow flexibility to better accommodate employee work/life balance. Employees are more productive and engaged when they are able to balance work with other demands on their lives.

Encourage use of paid time off and sick days.

A trend that was creeping into the workplace pre-pandemic is the stigma around taking time off, even for sick days. While this may have improved as a result of COVID, this can still be a challenge in an era with unrealistic expectations for 24/7 connectivity and accessibility. Overworked employees can lead to burnout, low morale, and turnover. Workers need time to unplug to be their best, most productive selves, especially when they need a mental break or when they’re under the weather. Encourage employees to take vacations away from the office, take full advantage of sick days, and to stay disconnected during their time off.

Promote wellness.

Create wellness programs that take a holistic view of wellness, from financial wellness to physical health and well-being. Actively support participation in these programs so that employees know you genuinely care.

Create a community celebration of life events at work (including getting married or having a child, for example) to help strengthen workplace relationships and employee connections.

Improve your recruitment practices

Today’s job seekers are savvy, and they expect more from employers. Walk the line between clever automation and authentic human interaction to ensure a modern candidate experience.

Invest time into creating a positive, humane candidate experience.

Strive to create an inviting, welcoming, and meaningful experience for all candidates who apply for a position with your company. Be honest about your culture and convey real information about daily life at your company. If you put out accurate information to help people decide if they’re a good fit, you won’t waste time interviewing or hiring the wrong people.

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Use technology to streamline the hiring process, and invest human capital where it counts

Automate parts of the early hiring process. Hiring software and ATS tools save time and help candidates stay informed with automated data collection and application management, interview scheduling, and process updates to keep candidates informed. Use surveys, testing, and other candidate tasks only when they’ll help you determine which applicants have the specific skill sets, knowledge, and experience you need. A standardized evaluation process helps everyone on your hiring team stay on the same page, and thoughtfully automating repetitive processes will help keep your team and your talent pool happy.  

While automation is appealing in a time when most people feel overworked, it’s important to retain human interaction in your hiring process. Use staff time to get to know the most appealing candidates and assess how they’ll add to your current workplace culture. Most importantly, keep candidates apprised of where you are in the process. Once you decide to offer a candidate the job, make the offer promptly so you don’t lose out on top applicants. And for top candidates who you don’t choose to hire, break the news personally, via email or phone. 

Create a supportive environment for employee feedback

Make your employees feel like their voice matters and create an open, transparent environment where feedback and honesty are celebrated. Being honest builds trust and connection with your staff and encourages your team to reciprocate.

Remove fear from your culture.

Mistakes are the stepping stones to moving outside the comfort zone to a path of growth and discovery. Create an environment where employees are not constantly afraid of being judged on their past mistakes. Instead, create a supportive environment where employees can try and fail without fear. Respond to problems and mistakes in a fair and supportive manner. Encourage employees to take risks and help them work through problems. They may surprise you with their innovative ideas and abilities.

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Use different approaches to gather employee feedback.

Use methods that guarantee anonymity such as online surveys and focus groups conducted by a third-party facilitator or consultant. Try skip-level meetings, in which a manager meets with employees who are two levels below in the organizational structure. Ask employees to identify the top three challenges they face and to suggest specific solutions or recommendations.

Follow through with actions.

Employees will stop giving feedback if they think it is a futile process. Thank employees for their feedback, share decisions that were made, and explain the reasons behind the decisions.

These are just a few of the many ways you can take steps to ensure your employees and candidates feel valued and supported. Building human-centered policies into your company’s procedures today will help secure your company’s future and establish you as a hiring innovator.