100% Human New Year’s resolutions

Man stood up giving a speech to people sat around him
Image from Alex Bulaniy
Anna Gowdridge the Human At Work Director for Virgin Unite posing on a balcony
by Anna Gowdridge
2 January 2020

In December we were lucky enough to visit Sydney and host a gathering of the 100% Human at Work movement in Australia. 

With a fantastic group of over 100 businesses joining us, I left the day full of energy from the commitment of those in the room to drive positive change, and also contemplative about what the 100% Human at Work New Year’s resolutions might be.

It became very clear that in 2020 employers have a responsibility to continue to think about mental health and the role of the employer. We have seen this topic come up time and again throughout the year and it was clear in every conversation we had that this needs to be high on the agenda for everyone.

We were lucky to have the amazing Kevin Figueiredo from the Woolworths Group share the work they are doing to make mental health their number one priority. With a huge workforce the reality for Woolworths is that they lose team members to suicide regularly. They have chosen to have a brave and open conversation and have created the I Am Here programme which trains staff in what to look out for and how to encourage those who are struggling to get help  –  and like 100% Human at Work, they don’t want to just do this within their own walls, they are starting to build a movement.

Image from Alex Bulaniy
Image from Alex Bulaniy

Dealing with mental health is an issue that the regional B Team Members in Australia are tackling and there will be more to come in 2020 – watch this space.

We were also joined by Dom Price, who is the Resident Work Futurist at Atlassian. As well as having one of the best job titles I have ever heard he shared some powerful thoughts with us. My big take away was that employers get to borrow their employees from their actual lives for eight hours a day. Such a simple concept but one that shifts your thinking about how important it is to create environments that make people want to lend you their precious time and energy.

Atlassian is famous around the world for building engaged and authentic cultures where people can bring their whole selves to work, and this is seen as adding true value. They also hire for culture ‘add’ not culture ‘fit’, which is an idea we are hearing about more and more from forward thinking companies. Most interesting to me was the fact that they also see this as something they want to share with the world rather than keeping their approach protected behind corporate walls.

the 100% human at work team
Image from Alex Bulaniy

I found it inspiring to see how many businesses committed to running pilots and experiments in 2020 and we will be following up to see how they get on. We now have businesses in the US, UK and Australia all taking action in 2020 and we are excited to see what happens next.

At the end of the day I left thinking about what our 100% Human New Year’s resolutions might be, here are some first thoughts:

  • Let’s leave corporate clones behind and work out how we can unleash the real potential in everyone

  • In 2020 employers should shift their perspective to understand that work is one element of their teams’ lives and they are only ‘borrowing’ people

  • Mental health may be the great crisis of our times and it is imperative that we continue to develop holistic approaches to it and aren’t scared to talk about it

  • We all need to be part of building a movement that is going to act not just have conversations – not necessarily having all the answers, but taking steps and experimenting towards a future of work that works for everyone, and sharing what we are learning with others.