Richard Branson

How Authentically Human are you at Work?

I recently traveled to Necker Island in support of Virgin Unite; Richard Branson’s not-for-profit arm of the Virgin Group.  I had the opportunity to meet Richard and a number of other prominent business leaders to discuss people, innovation and using business to drive social and environmental change. This is all part of The B Team; an initiative of business leaders who believe in being the catalyst for “a better way to do business for the well-being of people and the planet.”  They are doing this by listening to the needs of their employees and creating an environment that helps them thrive.  Some of the companies already involved in this challenge include Unilever, Huffington Post, Diageo, Chanel, Zappos and The Rockerfeller Foundation.  One of their central concepts is being “100% Human at Work”.  This means no longer looking at people as resources that can maximise profit, and instead, “focusing on how we can help people reach their highest potential and purpose” – and by doing this, it will have a flow-on effect of positively impacting the bottom line. I have been a strong advocate of this mindset for a long time.  When people are treated well, have a strong sense of purpose and are aligned to a company’s vision or values, they release discretionary effort and can have an enormous impact on the success and profit of a business. 

The B Team have 5 core elements to their “100% Human at Work” vision:

  1. Equality
  2. Respect
  3. Growth
  4. Belonging
  5. Purpose

While on Necker Island, we were encouraged to think about how we rate our businesses on the 5 core elements.  One business leader thought her employees would rank their ability to be human at work as high. Inspired by the day’s conversation, she emailed her employees and asked them to tell her if they felt they had permission to be human at work.  The truthful responses had her in tears.  However, when she asked herself whether she was being her most authentically human at work, she came to realisation that she wasn’t either.  Being brave and asking this question opened her eyes to a number of issues she can now address within her business, creating solutions for the better.   So my question for you to ponder is:

If you are a business leader or manager, how human do you let your employees be? 

If you are an employee, how human do you feel you are treated at work? What are your thoughts?  Join us on our LinkedIn Page to share your opinion!

You can check out some more insights and photos from my time on Necker Island here.