By Guest Contributor Dr Amy Bradley
During this global pandemic, we are all navigating a new normal. Faced with restrictions to our daily movement, most of us are now working remotely and are reliant on technology as our only means of communication with work colleagues. This means no more lunchtime walks with teammates, chats by the coffee machine or swapping gossip in the office car park.
It is not COVID-19, however, that may have diminished our sense of connection with one another at work. This was happening long before the pandemic. Our workplaces had become transactional and dehumanized before Coronavirus hit. So many of us had turned our emotional thermometers down in order to cope with the brutality of work life, that we had forgotten how to feel. Organizations had become so focused on rewarding productivity and output, that many employers had become obsessed with profit over people. Our lives had become so hectic and we were so busy doing, many of us had no time to care for ourselves, let alone our colleagues down the corridor.
COVID-19 is a watershed moment
It gives us a chance to re-set humanity’s clock. It is an opportunity to reflect on who we are and what we value, so that we can discover a better version of ourselves and our organizations. This global pandemic has brought our sense of shared humanity into sharp relief. We see through the experience of friends, family and work colleagues that as human beings we all suffer, we all fail, and we all feel overwhelmed at times.
There are examples of connection, kindness and compassion being shared every day; be it clapping for our carers; rainbows in windows; or community responses to support the vulnerable. So, how can we build the same momentum within our own organizations? By making time for a human moment. A human moment is simply taking the time each day to connect with someone at a basic human level and asking them how they are; not because we are being polite, or because we are on autopilot; but because we are genuinely interested and we care. Just because we are now physically distant from our colleagues, this need not mean we are emotionally disconnected.
Feeling safe in human moments
People disclose their vulnerabilities and their struggles when they feel safe and when they feel the other person is present, attuned and listening with empathy; so human moments are about opening ourselves up for an encounter to unfold. If and when it does, we should listen with empathy and without judgement, we should acknowledge the other person’s experience even if we cannot change it, and we need to accept that we may not have the answer about what is helpful, or the right thing to do for that person at that time.
Making time for human moments
Human moments are a workplace imperative, in order to prevent our organizations from becoming more distant and fractured in these times of crisis. By making time for a human moment, we create opportunities to connect with our colleagues and to build the quality of our relationships. With the rise in remote working and reliance on technology as a means of communication, we need human moments more than ever. By making time for a human moment, we enable people to own-up to their struggles and we give ourselves permission to disclose our own. The next time you ask a work colleague on a Zoom call how they’re doing, if asked with kindness and without judgement, you just might open a space for something other than an “I’m fine” response.
Being accessible and willing to listen can often be a simple yet powerful role for colleagues to play. After all, a human moment is a moment for us to acknowledge that we are all cut from the same cloth and we are not alone. We must make time for the human moment in our daily work interactions, since human moments are food for the soul.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr Amy Bradley is a professor at Hult International Business School. In 2020, she made it onto to the prestigious Thinkers50 Radar list of global management thinkers. Her research has been published in academic and practitioner publications including Harvard Business Review, Forbes Magazine and Management Today, and in the press, including BBC online and The Guardian. Her new book, The Human Moment has been longlisted for CMI’s Management Book of the Year 2020. In it, she argues that organizations must find ways of becoming more compassionate in an age where our work is increasingly dehumanized.
Books by Amy Bradley
The Human Moment
Organizations are becoming increasingly dehumanized. The move toward an AI-driven world of work means intense competition for a finite number of ‘human’ resources where the pressure to perform can incite an “I’m fine” response when a colleague enquires into our wellbeing. Opportunities to connect authentically with or care for one other at a basic human level are diminishing, and we only know our colleagues superficially.
This book argues that human connections are formed by showing vulnerability and sharing stories of suffering. Creating a culture of workplace compassion is an organizational imperative in the 21stcentury where suffering is hidden, stress-related absence is growing and career burnout is a recognized phenomenon. The Human Momentsuggests that, by encouraging cultures of compassion, organizations can help to build healtheir workplace environments.
Suggested reading for workplace wellbeing
Positive Mental Health
This book aims to build on the current progressive movement around mental health awareness and is in line with current thinking on mental health in the workplace. In this book, the authors provide employees with a resource to develop greater mental health in the workplace and provide employers with a resource to develop greater wellbeing amongst their employees therefore increasing quality, performance, productivity and overall business effectiveness.
The Conscious Effect
As we face the 4th industrial revolution, wellbeing in the workplace will make or break businesses. Natasha Wallace has taken insights from neuroscience, behavioural science and evidence-based practices to show what wellbeing means from a holistic perspective. The Conscious Effect gets under the skin of the human behaviour and mindset needed to stay well and work well. The book focuses on instigating wellbeing strategy and the empowering and powerful effect wellbeing can have on the individual, teams and an organisation as a whole.
The rehumanization of leadership has become one of the most pressing issues of our times. This book offers an antidote to the linear and fragmented leadership models that emerged out of the industrial age.
The authors make a compelling case for purpose, empathy and caring to become the strategic driving forces for organizations in a disruptive and complex world. This book provides you with the simple tools and the mindset that you need to lead your organization into the 21st century.
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