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How to implement and nurture a human-focused work culture

How to make my employees happier at the workplace? How to support a healthy work-life balance? How to nurture a true feeling of community? These are all questions I asked myself a couple of years ago.

Our people are what makes our business tick. Without their creativity, passion and thirst to thrive, we’d be stuck. 

Throughout my journey as a leader, I’ve tried and tested different ways of successfully nurturing a human-focus within my own team. And through my work supporting the humans at 60 UK companies, I’ve seen how these practices can be replicated across teams, companies and industries. 

Read on if you’re interested in understanding the foundations for building and nurturing a human-focused culture at your company.  These are the steps to inspire and empower your employees. 


Understand the needs of your people. 

To start creating a human-focused culture, you must understand it first.

In a nutshell, a human-focused culture is a company culture where all humans are empowered to fulfill all of their needs. That is, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. If you’d like a more detailed explanation, you can read this blog. 

So how do we actually get to know the needs of our team? 

The truth is that everyone’s needs are different. But don’t panic. There are models that allow us to understand and identify the needs shared by all human beings. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a powerful tool to use (see image below).

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According to Maslow, bottom-of -pyramid needs like physiological and safety needs must be met before motivation for higher needs in the hierarchy emerge. 

To achieve a human-focused culture, we must empower people to get to the very top of the pyramid. At this stage employees are internally motivated to be all that they can be.

As leaders, founders and wellness warriors, our role is to provide all the stepping stones. Here is how: 


1. Physiological needs: 

You can support your people to fulfill these needs by providing them with the knowledge and tools to sleep well, to rest and have a healthy diet. Tools like meditations and sleeping apps, access to nutritionists and healthy menus. 


2. Safety needs: 

Layoffs, furloughs, the economy, healthcare… these have all contributed to an atmosphere full of anxiety, uncertainty and fear. The truth is that we cannot control these external factors, however we can influence how our people feel about them. 

Through tools like life coaching, meditation and mindfulness, we can replace the feelings of vulnerability and insecurity with confidence and motivation. 


3. Belongingness needs:  

This is now more important than ever because of the negative toll social distancing has had, and continues to have on our people’s mental health.

We must provide opportunities for people to connect and participate as part of a community. It’s about encouraging your people to share in an environment of like-minded individuals, where they can truly feel like they belong.

Does your team have a network of support for their wellness?


4. Esteem needs: 

This is about empowering our employees to find their strength, freedom and recognition. A couple of months ago, people would go to the pub or to the cinema to blow off steam and reconnect. Now, it’s necessary to find alternative experiences.

Experiences which allows us to redefine ourselves and make us feel strong and confident. This can be a spa session for some people, or a HIIT session for others. 

5. Self-actualization:

This is the full realization of one’s creative, intellectual and social potential. It varies from person to person and it’s only possible when we’re able to identify our own strengths and have the tools to thrive through them. 

I like to see it as the stage where we stop thinking of all the things we’d like to be doing… and actually start doing them. 

When your employees are at this stage, they are motivated internally. When they’re at this stage, they can thrive regardless of the circumstances. This is how you know you have a human-focused culture.

But first they need the right tools. The right amount of rest, the right nutrition, the right coaching, the right energy. Spas, dancing, yoga, skiing, whatever experience lights their spark.


Next steps: 

Now you know how to implement and nurture a human-focused culture. 

 Remember that health and wellness, much like happiness and motivation are not things which you can enforce. On the contrary, they will only work if individuals take ownership of them. As wellness warriors, we must stay remember that our role is to facilitate. 

Ensure that you provide wellness tools and resources which are easily accessible (accessibility inspires), that they allow opportunities for connection and are also diverse and flexible. 

Your focus should never be on the “what”, “when” or “how” of wellness. Simply focus on the who.

Focus on your people and their needs. And everything else will take care of itself. 

To help you get started, I’ve answered the top 5 questions which Heka’s partners are asking in relation to employee wellness and benefits at this time. Download our free wellness warrior guide here and start empowering your people. 

*This post was written by Steph Newport-Booth, founder of Heka. 

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