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Sarah Meusburger is human resources director at Banner Associates in Brookings, S.D.

Sarah Meusburger, Banner Associates, Brookings, S.D.: Connections + a humanistic approach = organizational success

BROOKINGS, S.D. – According to a Gallup poll, 70 percent of people in the United States hate their jobs. Seventy percent. That’s a significant portion of today’s workforce.  

Certainly, 70 percent of jobs are not inherently bad jobs. So what factors contribute to this alarming statistic?  

Research has shown that a person’s unhappiness at work relates less to his or her actual position or work functions and more so to the human elements associated with the workplace.  This includes not only leadership and the people that employees work with, but also how those employees feel about working with the organization.

By focusing on two very important human elements, organizations can strengthen staff engagement, increase overall productivity and achieve greater organizational success.

  1. Prioritize Connections

There has been a growing trend in today’s society for workplaces to provide social environments that let staff and leaders connect. Try evaluating your organization using a “Connections” lens by asking these types of questions:

  • Do staff members really know one another?  
  • Does the workplace provide opportunities for staff in various departments to collaborate and connect?  
  • Do managers and supervisors take the time to genuinely engage with their staff and have ongoing dialogue?  
  • Do those leaders understand what motivates each of their staff members?  
  • Do they provide an opportunity for staff members to communicate their own professional goals or ideas?  
  • Do supervisors know the names of their staff’s family members?
  • What about the interests or hobbies of their staff members outside of work?  

While skeptics may view this effort as “fluff,” research has proven that human connections are an essential part of engaging your staff.  Everyone wants to have a purpose at work and feel as though their role is an important part of the organization. Engaged staff not only perform better and collaborate more effectively, but also are more likely to go out of their way to streamline processes, solve problems and think creatively about ways to benefit the organization.  

Establishing connections with those you work with means having a genuine interest in them.  Show your staff that you care about them as individuals, not only about the work that they are responsible for.  When you do these things, connections will form.

These connections are critical to the success of your organization, especially as it relates to retaining your staff, fostering transparency and open communication, garnering input from others, igniting new ideas and gaining a renewed commitment from your staff to work toward organizational goals.

  1. A Humanistic Approach

A humanistic approach in the workplace means that the needs and values of staff are important and serve as a primary factor in organizational changes and decisions.  It’s the recognition that your staff are much more than “workers.”

The importance of a humanistic approach can be traced back to Abraham Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs.” According to Maslow, the goal of any person is to reach a state of “self-actualization” in which all of their needs are being met and a state of contented happiness is achieved.  

What makes a person feel content and happy at work?  

This poses a real challenge in a society that promotes the never-ending desire for more: earn more money, buy a bigger house, drive a nicer car, get the better position and so on. But while you can’t change societal pressures, you can change the dynamics of your work relationships.

And by doing so, you can solidify loyalty among your staff and skyrocket their level of engagement.

A humanistic approach involves building a culture of trust, compassion and empathy.  It calls for approachability, open communication and providing opportunities for staff to contribute to organizational goals and objectives.   

Chances are everyone has worked for an organization that misses the mark on these important traits.  After all, an organization’s primary goals are likely focused on performance metrics, market share and profitability.  

But your staff is what makes success possible.

Connections and a humanistic approach cannot be provided artificially.  Organizational leaders must be genuine in their efforts to provide a great place to work.  When staff feel valued, they want to come to work. They want to tell other people about how great their organization is.  Ultimately, this is what can make an organization more successful.

Sarah Meusburger

Human Resources Director

Banner Associates

Brookings, S.D.

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