It’s High Time We Reward Our People for the Human Work

For those of you who read both newsletters this won’t come as a surprise - we at PeopleNotTech are openly embarking on a new “crusade” if you will - that of getting employees to be appreciated and rewarded for the human work. The “Pay them for it” campaign. 

What is it you ask? It is our recognition that the teams we work with, have heard and understood the need for the human work and they have mercifully lowered their -perfectly understandable- resistance to the work and are at now engaging in it with regularity and it is now time we entered a new age where we thank them for it. It is our pledge that we won’t stop until humans in the workplace are being given the space and support to look after themselves and understand and better their behaviours and the behaviours of their team. It is high time. 

High time we stopped confining the human work to an afterthought or to a “Friday initiative”.

High time we stopped stopping at awareness only.  

High time we reexamined NPS and other sterile measurements.

High time we started showing our people true care and respect starting with empowering them and recognising their efforts.

High time we attacked the HumanDebt of toxic cultures head-on, by asking our people to please do the necessary human work.

High time we stopped regarding it as “the fluffy part”.

High time we stopped calling them “soft skills”.

High time we all learned, communicated and implemented those strategies that make us feel safe, seen, connected and invested. 

High time we challenged the wild presumption that we can be productive at work if we don’t apply our EQ and keep firmly connected to our own emotional needs and those of others.

High time we made empathy and kindness mandatory including the way this reflects in big topics in terms of collaboration and interactions from radical condor to teaming.

High time we make the human work so central to all we do, that space and time for it will be rigorously ring-fenced both at an individual and at a team level. 

High time we stopped hoping we can execute on digital transformations or truly be Agile before we habitually spend our time on these people topics.

High time we ceased making our people think they ought to bring their professional masks to work instead of their authentic selves.

High time we postponed big conversations about outcomes, flexibility and "private lives".

High time we spent intentional time emotionally investing into each other.

High time we stopped ignoring the needs and feelings of our people. 

High time we ended all fear manifestations from impression management to blame cultures.

High time we internalised the big topic of emotional intelligence and we started breaking down the task. 

High time we openly reexamined and audited all our people systems from how we do performance reviews to how we measure effort, emotional investment and good will and to ultimately, how we structure our rewards and benefits systems. 

High time we stopped rolling our eyes at mentions of “humanity”.

Maybe most importantly, it is high time we start recognising that the human work is essential and we as organisations must both equip our people for it and then remunerate them for doing it so that it become an embedded and important part of the every day.

It isn’t just “high time” from a theoretical or moral perspective, it is ultimately crucial to whether or not we are remain (or become) competitive in particular on the brink of tough economic times as we are finding ourselves now. 

As we said last week in the other newsletter:

“Performance reviews, benefits and compensation, L&D, finance, ops, you name it, no one is exempt from having to come to the table and work out “How do we acknowledge our people are spending time investing in their own wellbeing and in the health of the team and that time needs to be adequately compensated?” 

Some organisations worked this out a while ago. They pay people for time spent learning -or even being curious-; they ask people for a proportion of their time to be squarely dedicated to the human work -one company is trialing a 70%/30% split of operational versus emotional work-; they reward acts of vulnerability and courage. Maybe most encouragingly, as we’ve seen it first hand, some of our clients asked us for reports on how much time people have spent in our software either answering questions or doing the crowdsourced team actions as they are evidently thinking and learning about each other and themselves. While this is great news potentially, we feel it is also our job to determine what to do to ensure this data is used “for the good” and not for nefarious purposes. We’re basically saying back: 

Yes, you’ve asked your people to do this human work and they mercifully lowered their natural resistance to the emotional and behavioural work and they are engaging with our software, learning, growing and being more psychologically safe with every sprint and you are now saying you’d like to know how much time they spend on this to be able to reward them for it, but one of our core principles in PeopleNotTech is “Whatever behaviours need to be bettered in the team, can only be bettered by the team itself so it all stays at the bubble-level, it’s none of the organisation’s biz-wax, what happens in the Dashboard stays in Dashboard” so we have to firstly protect that, so we’ll need to know more about your intentions and trust them to be genuine and well-intentioned before you have this data. What are you going to be doing with it, how will you use it to compensate and reward and not punish or control?

We all have much to do in order to understand how to step away from “the age of the robot” to the “age of the emotionally intelligent employee” as it’s the biggest imperative of the business world right now. Over the coming weeks and starting with tomorrow’s video we will go through most of these different aspects of the shift and how we must move away from the wrong impression we gave our people that we only value operational-only work or that high performance can even exist in the absence of the human work. What it will take. Who needs to be honest, how to keep real. How to use your Human Work Superheroes, how to learn fast and apply those learnings efficiently. 

Meanwhile, we need each and every one of you to keep up the hard daily emotional and behavioural work and we’ll push, probe and demand the respect and care the organisation has owed you all along. 

We can only promise not to relent, bring all the learnings we are gathering from the more advanced clients we are fortunate enough to see in action and to be 110% honest even in the face of adversity and resistance of which there will be as much as the HumanDebt dictates. 

You’ll know we’re succeeding when your workday will include time, space and tools to help you do the human work and when you see it reflect directly in your carer growth path and pay check. 

Related: Techies Don’t Quietly Quit, They (Eventually) Leave and Slam the Door