Humanized Workplaces in an Age of Disruption

March 23 2020 / by Mari Ryan
We are living in times of uncertainty and continuous change. Disruption is ever-present in our workplaces, impacting employee engagement and the overall corporate culture. However, disruption doesn’t have to be negative. Shaking things up presents an opportunity to draw on our strengths and create a humanized workplace where employees feel cared for and supported.

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I recently spoke about the challenges of workplace disruption with author, speaker and thought leader, Rosie Ward. Ms. Ward stated, “As we know, disruption can bring awesome things such as technological advances, growth and all kinds of things that help us progress as a society and help us be better and more effective. However, the more we automate things and the more disruptive things become, the greater the chance we may experience unintended consequences. This is where dehumanization comes into play. If you look at our biology as human beings, we are hard-wired to seek out comfort, familiarity, feeling good about ourselves, looking good. It’s in our DNA.”

Many organizations will, for better or worse, be judged on how they respond during a time of disruption and crisis. Will your organization be supportive of the needs of the employees, or incite tension and distrust by putting the interests of the business first?

In order to keep your employees engaged during periods of disruption, consider the following five things that will strengthen the trust, loyalty and focus of your most important resource:

  • Leadership. Leaders are being challenged on many levels. This is the time to make decisions that demonstrate caring and compassion. Deploy empathy, honesty and consistency.
  • Flexibility. Flexibility and adaptability are essential. Revisit workplace policies on telecommuting and sick time. Find ways to support lower wage workers who may be significantly impacted by a reduction in work hours.
  • Communications. Frank, honest and timely communications are critical. Without frequent communication, employees will make up their own stories, fueling feelings of uncertainty, anxiety and panic.
  • Foster connections. Keep people connected and engaged. Combat feelings of isolation by establishing virtual watercoolers or buddy check-in systems.
  • Provide resources. Make information easily accessible to employees. Tools such as EAP, trainings on working remotely and tips for building resilience will empower employees.

Supporting employees through times of disruption is everyone’s job. We have an opportunity to engage employees and find ways to grow. Let’s come together to make this time positive for everyone.  


Topics: Worksite Wellness, Wellbeing, worksite wellbeing, workplace wellbeing, employee experience, workplace wellness, employee wellbeing, thriving workplace

Mari Ryan

Written by Mari Ryan

Mari Ryan is the CEO/founder of AdvancingWellness and is a recognized expert in the field of workplace well-being strategy.