How to Succeed in the Human Economy

by Lynette Silva

Help someone out - show your humanityRecognize This! – Our work is no longer about what we do or what we make, it’s about who we serve and how we behave.

This week was a week of meetings. Usually that’s a groan-inducing phrase for many employees across the world, but these meetings were with the strategy and consulting team. That means we dealt with the “big picture,” diving into good, meaty discussions that often verge into the philosophical as well as the practical. I enjoy them immensely, primarily because of the people in the meeting. These are the colleagues I have the opportunity to work with most closely day-in and day-out, and that is a rare privilege.

During one of our more philosophical moments, Derek Irvine (our chief blogger here on Recognize This! as well as the head of our strategy and consulting group) began to discuss what truly sets us apart. It’s not just what we offer to the market (social recognition solutions) or the way in which we deliver it (world-leading SaaS technology). No, it’s far more than that. It’s the people across Globoforce who engage deeply with our customer partners, often to the extent our customers refer to our relationship as “family.”

Derek went further to describe this as the human factor. That’s what we bring most – our humanity, our fundamental understanding of the needs of employees as not just workers, but also as friends and colleagues, and as people with rich lives outside the workplace. This brought to mind an article by Dov Seidman I read recently in Harvard Business Review.

“Over the course of the 20th century, the mature economies of the world evolved from being industrial economies to knowledge economies. Now we are at another watershed moment, transitioning to human economies—and the shift has profound implications for management.

“What do I mean by the human economy? Economies get labeled according to the work people predominately do in them. The industrial economy replaced the agrarian economy when people left farms for factories; then the knowledge economy pulled them from factories to office buildings. When that happened, the way workers added value changed, too. Instead of leveraging their brawn, companies capitalized on their brains. No longer hired hands, they were hired heads.

“In the human economy, the most valuable workers will be hired hearts. The know-how and analytic skills that made them indispensable in the knowledge economy no longer give them an advantage over increasingly intelligent machines. But they will still bring to their work essential traits that can’t be and won’t be programmed into software, like creativity, passion, character, and collaborative spirit—their humanity, in other words. The ability to leverage these strengths will be the source of one organization’s superiority over another.”

I believe this to be true. We’re already seeing the human economy at work all around us. So the question becomes, how do I encourage “humanity” among all employees? How do I reinforce these now-primary desired behaviors for humanity? What attributes do I look for in others to contribute well in this new economy?

This is where the fundamentals of humanity come into play:

We owe it to each other – we owe it to ourselves – to truly acknowledge the people around us. In the end, it’s the way we will now measure success.

What other attributes of humanity do you see at play at work or elsewhere around you?

Lynette Silva

About Lynette Silva

Facts and stats run through Lynette Silva’s veins. She uses her wealth of data and knowledge to help customers build strong business cases for the power of thanks to increase employee engagement, retention, productivity, and performance. In her role as senior recognition strategist and consultant at Globoforce, she’s also a frequently requested speaker and session leader. Lynette holds a B.S. and M.S in History Education from Boston University.

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