A More Human Approach to Building Organizations

What do you do for living?“, is my least favorite question from, and the reason behind it, is not liking it is the word “resources” in HR. It’s not what my official title is but if I tell them “Head of People & Happiness”, they assume I’m some kind of unicorn fairy prancing around the office throwing fairy dust.

HR for some reason just doesn’t feel right, the word resources, and the fact that the companies that still use it give off a vibe of a very old-fashioned approach to workplace culture is why. Unfortunately, even at this day where the “HR” function evolved into something completely different than it was 50 years ago, not many companies adopted the new mindset. A boogieman that sneaks up on people and reprimands them when they do or say something wrong, is what most people think or at least joke about.

Many companies still see it as an admin function, managing compliance, recruiting, and administration. And while these companies do a great job utilizing the resources part, the people aspect is often deeply neglected.

The other side of the people function has a deep understanding of human nature, genuinely cares about every human being, and acts as a thought leader. The new age people leaders are not administrators. They are mentors that exhibit a high level of integrity, remarkable values, take things lightly, and act in people’s best interest. They are culture builders that introduce the concept of happiness at workplace. Why? Because people that love coming to work are more engaged and produce better results.

Instead of focusing who came to work at what time, companies should build trust and accountability over rules and control. You don’t discipline people with fear but empower them with respect and kindness.

Our version of the great workplace is not comprised of sushi lunches, great gyms, fancy offices, or frequent parties. Our version of the great workplace is a dream team in pursuit of ambitious common goals, for which we spend heavily. It is on such a team that you learn the most, perform your best work, improve the fastest, and have the most fun.

Netflix Culture Deck

I view my role more as trying to set up an environment where creativity and uniqueness of all the different personalities is embraced and they can thrive by being the best version of themselves. 

When employees feel good about coming to work in the absence of fear, that is when they will exhibit a high level of ambition and produce the best results. When they know what’s expected of them and they feel supported in achieving the goals, managing people becomes simply supporting and empowering them.

An office where people walk in with a smile on their face, where laughter is deeply rooted in the company culture, and where people act like business owners and not employees, is not a utopia. It is the only way to build a healthy and sustainable business where turnover is low and where you don’t need to struggle to hire highly productive and talented people.  

“I think when people say they dread going into work on Monday morning, it’s because they know they are leaving a piece of themselves at home. Why not see what happens when you challenge your employees to bring all of their talents to their job and reward them not for doing it just like everyone else, but for pushing the envelope, being adventurous, creative, and open-minded, and trying new things?”

Tony Hsieh, CEO Zappos

To create a place that attracts and retains top talent, we need to stop referring to and treating people like resources. When a desire to build a positive company culture comes not only from a revenue perspective, but from a place of genuine care about others, that is when the people take care of the company as if it was their own. 

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the people to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders.
Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince