The Human Side of HR 

June 7, 2023
4 min read

The people-first side of HR is here to stay, and it’s about time.  

Gone are the days of treating your employees as widgets and pushing them to complete as much work as possible from 9am to 5pm, or as Ariana Huffington put it in a recent article Start of the Human Energy Revolution, “Humans were considered to be mostly vessels for work.”  The age old tale of leaving your emotions at the door when you come to work can no longer be the way that organizations operate.   

Today, many organizations are finally taking time to understand what drives their employees to be engaged at work. Studies have shown that engaged employees deliver better work products.  The annual Gallup State of the Global Workplace Report, published earlier this year, on workplace engagement found  global engagement was 21% and noted “Gallup estimates that low engagement costs the global economy US$7.8 trillion and accounts for 11% of GDP globally.”   

This statistic, along with the notion that “well-being influences life at work” forced a lot of companies to start paying attention to the well-being and engagement of their employees, aka the Human Side, in order to succeed as a business.  It has become clear that today’s workforce craves a sense of purpose and wants to work for companies that embrace this mentality from the highest levels of the organization. 

This is just one reason why I am proud to work at Next League. The fact that my title is Director of People and Culture and not Director of Human Resources shows how important the ‘human-side’ of my job really is. While my team and I are still responsible for the traditional ‘blocking and tackling’ duties of our roles like recruitment, onboarding and compliance training, we spend a considerable amount of time building programs and initiatives meant to further develop our employees personally and professionally. Better yet, some of these are peer-led so as to empower team members, regardless of their level, to contribute to programming that resonates directly with them.  

We’re proud of the career development paths and programming we are building. Working with each department head, we are in the process of defining clear career levels and ladders, so all employees have a sense of what is needed to progress. As part of this, we are outlining career progression paths to assist employees with realizing their goals. We’ll soon be rolling out our performance empowerment program, complete with stipends for approved Learning & Development opportunities. Everyone within the organization is encouraged to use our Performance Management tool to share real-time feedback and recognize the great work being done by their colleagues.

Given that we are a geographically-dispersed organization, we have been focused on having recurring programming that brings our team members together virtually (and in-person, where feasible).  We recently launched our Culture Committee to help facilitate these initiatives. The Committee, made up of colleagues from around the world,  is responsible for organizing in-person gatherings, virtual programming and facilitating our  newly launched peer-led clubs like Book Club and Golf Club. Additionally, we are in the process of formalizing our volunteering and donation program, as we know how important these things are to our employees. 

Studies show happier people make for more productive employees. Next League is a people-first business; in order to meet the needs of our clients, we recognize the importance of meeting our teams’ needs first. We have an open door policy and encourage our employees not only to let us know what is going on in their professional lives but in their personal lives too. After all, we want them to bring their whole selves to work. 

The thing I am most focused on is listening to the needs of our employees and creating a strong company culture where we develop great people, not just great professionals. I feel fortunate to have the unwavering support of our Executive and Leadership Teams as we look to build out these programs and initiatives and am excited to see the results of these continue to permeate through the organization.