Elevate Your Impact Now: 7 innovative practices to rehumanize your work

Workplace Transformation: Humanizing The Workplace

“Humanizing The Workplace” is Part 5 in a five-part series on workplace transformation that recounts a recent journey to Barcelona- a hub for social innovation and ideal setting to activate impact creation.

Inspired by a day at a multinational, this article shares conscious steps forward that businesses can take to unlock human potential and create workplaces where everyone can thrive.

There’s a movement of people leaders right now who are focused on humanizing the workplace.

Our mission to evolve business structures to be more aligned with human nature comes with its fair share of resistance.

Despite the pushback to humanizing the workplace, the process actually requires very little invention.

Antoni Gaudi expressed, “nothing is invented, for it’s written in nature first,” and the same applies to workplace transformation.

Human beings are wired for connection and contribution.

Connecting to our natural human tendencies in business requires a release of outdated performance structures. It calls for a restructuring that taps into the motivations intrinsic to human nature.

Breaking Down Motivational Structures

During my final week in Barcelona, I had the opportunity to accompany a mentor of mine to a multinational known for its innovative approaches to data management.

Higher Playbook- Humanize The Workplace - Mentorship

In a complex environment, my lack of prior knowledge was an asset. I got to unbiasedly observe the nuances of interactions and arrive at my own conclusions.

As an external consultant, shadowing leaders is a powerful way to observe the unspoken ways of humanity in a workplace.

On this particular day of shadowing, it became apparent to me that what’s missing in this performance-driven environment is the social architecture to empower human contribution. And I had questions…

  • With back-to-back meetings, how do professionals tap into their source of creativity?

  • Where is the relational space for deeper dialogue about purpose?

  • Beyond skills coaching, what sustains high-performers? 

  • How can professionals transcend the two-year role plateau?

Luckily for me, I  was in the right place at the right time. We were coming together to discuss humanizing the workplace.

Challenging The Performance Paradigm

First, let’s acknowledge: to dedicate time in a performance-driven environment to a connective conversation is a special event.

I thoroughly enjoyed being able to connect to diverse individuals, from interns to Directors. We got to share perspectives in an unstructured way. In other words: connect without an agenda.

Higher Playbook- Humanize The Workplace - Connection at Work

We touched on a variety of topics: our stories, the future of work, and what it could look like to humanize this workplace.

But more than the topics, it was the context that evoked a critical insight about performance that applies on an individual, relational and cultural level.

Humans can only contribute to the degree that their culture enables them to.

This insight is particularly relevant for anyone who is considering how to humanize the workplace. It invites you to consider the limits of performance and the opportunity for contribution.

Deconstructing Performance Culture

To better understand the limits of performance and the barriers to contribution in a performance culture, let’s look at people patterns.

The Individual Level

Individuals are heads-down and laser-focused on hitting their KPIs. They may get really good at hitting their performance goals, though they will tap out when they no longer find fulfillment in meeting goals.

Higher Playbook- Humanize The Workplace - Performance Culture
The Relational Level

Teams are cooperative, and people work together when needed to meet their goals. Relationships are transactional, which often leaves little room to recognize each other’s passions or champion each other’s aspirations.

The Cultural Level

The organization is constantly reaching to stay at the top of industry standards. While a company can grow by incentivizing high performance, it will confront the problem of consistent churn. When a workforce seeks greater fulfillment in their roles, a performance culture will always plateau. 

Ultimately, recognizing all three levels of people patterns reveals a consistent theme: 

Our workforce can only contribute to the degree that business structures enable and empower contribution.

While performance cultures are effective in driving results, they don’t make full use of the highest level of human potential: creative contribution.

And now, in the midst of large scale restructuring, there’s a window of opportunity. Companies of all sizes can restructure their workplace experiences to elevate human contribution, promote employee fulfillment, and ultimately, humanize the workplace.

How To Restructure for Human Contribution

Contribution lies at the heart of organizational longevity, and more than that, the sustainability of our planet.

By shifting focus from mere performance to meaningful contribution, companies can unlock a new dimension of engagement, fulfillment, and innovation.

Here’s where the Higher Playbook for building cultures of contribution fits in seamlessly.

Higher Playbook - Humanize The Workplace- Culture of Contribution

A culture of contribution is where people are empowered to create impact, with space inside of the workplace to contribute to initiatives that serve the world.

In a culture of contribution, people come together often for intentional relationship-building and shard experiences. Whether 30-minute huddles or multi-day immersions, these relational spaces in the work day and week can be virtual, in the office, or offsite.

Relational space empowers people to express themselves, tap into their creativity, and make meaningful contributions.

There are 6 key steps to building a strategic roadmap to humanize the workplace. These steps correlate to the 6 cornerstones of an Interconnected Workplace™, and they are as follows:

Step 1: Connect for the Purpose of Connection

Elevate engagement by deepening trust and understanding within workplace relationships.

Space for connection allows people to genuinely get to know each other and disrupt the transactional ways of relating in the process.

Step 2: Converse on Socially Relevant Topics

Enhance empathy, belonging, and inclusion through open and honest dialogue.

Space for people to bring their needs, desires, and identities to the table promotes social integration amongst diverse perspectives.

Step 3: Collaborate to Promote Self-Discovery

Facilitate personal growth and interpersonal skill development in a collaborative setting. 

Social learning experiences offer space for people to get to learn about themselves through peer-to-peer reflection. This space allows for individuals to discover their strengths and take ownership of their personal purpose.

Step 4: Create. Create. Create.

Drive exponential success by empowering individuals to apply their unique talents. 

When companies invest in social innovation- i.e. special projects and impact initiatives– they incentivize people to bring their best ideas to addressing the company’s challenges and untapped opportunities.

Step 5: Contribute to a Cause

Bring people together for milestone events- the culmination of projects and initiatives. 

Space for contribution gives people the opportunity to apply their individual talents toward a shared mission, demonstrate their impact, and take pride in their contribution.

Step 6: Calibrate then Repeat

Continuous feedback and iteration are key to sustaining a culture of contribution.

Space for calibration allows leaders to see the tangible impacts and outcomes of their efforts. They can assess and adjust strategies, integrating the feedback into designing next steps.

Want to practice the steps? You can create your own cultural roadmap here: Design Your Activation.

The Higher Playbook® practice will help you to activate your creativity and identify the opportunity with your workplace to innovate for impact.

Activating A Culture of Contribution

As you embark into designing your activation, get ready for personal transformation! 

The journey from a performance-driven culture to a culture of contribution is both challenging, exciting, and rewarding.

It requires a deliberate rethinking of the purpose of the workplace and a renovation of the social architecture inside businesses.

By embracing these steps to humanizing the workplace, you can unlock the immense potential of your team and foster a culture where creativity, innovation, and contribution flourish.

Ultimately, creating a workplace transformation is all about nurturing the best of humanity: enabling every individual to be a conscious contributor to the sustainability of our world. And it starts at home…

One Door Closes, Another Door Opens

As we close out this Barcelona chapter and open the door to your workplace, take a moment to reflect on what you’ve learned:

  • How can your workplace become more than a place to return to, but a space to grow, contribute, and thrive together?

  • How can you influence the ways of relating at work so that human beings get to connect and contribute more?

  • What can you do today to initiate action on your vision of impact? and what do you need now to set you up for success?

  • What do you need now to set yourself up for success in activating change?

A learning curve is natural for all of us, including innovators and early adopters, and I’m right here with you.

Consider me your ideal thought partner, fellow innovator, and passionate facilitator of workplace transformation.

You are invited to connect here, and we can explore how I can support you or your business in activating your highest potential for contribution.

I look forward to continuing this journey of workplace transformation with you, and ushering forward our shared vision of a world where every individual gets to contribute to the greater good.


Workplace Transformation: Innovating Your Approaches

Part IV in the five-part series on workplace transformation draws lessons from the Casa Battló museum on how to innovate for neuroinclusion.

Workplace Transformation: Visioning Beyond Your Limits

Part III in the five-part series on workplace transformation activates the source of systemic transformation: the individual leader.

Workplace Transformation: Building A Better Business World

Part II in the five-part series on workplace transformation sources inspiration from Sagrada Familia to build business for future generations.

Workplace Transformation: Returning to Humanity

This five-part series on workplace transformation recounts a recent journey to Barcelona—the ideal setting to activate social innovation.

Activate Your Culture in One Day

Learn what a culture activation entails and unleash the benefits of relationship-building initiatives in your workplace.
Part V in the five-part series on workplace transformation shares conscious steps to humanize the workplace and unlock human potential.
Part IV in the five-part series on workplace transformation draws lessons from the Casa Battló museum on how to innovate for neuroinclusion.
Part III in the five-part series on workplace transformation activates the source of systemic transformation: the individual leader.



Featured Resources


Elevate Your Impact NOW: 7 Practices to Rehumanize Your Work & Workplace

Elevate Your Impact NOW: 7 Practices to Rehumanize Your Work & Workplace​