When I first joined a banking institute a couple of decades ago, life was very much less complicated. Despite the load of responsibilities, we enjoyed the freedom as my workplace had a human face with connections at its heart.
Nowadays our lives have become extremely busy and fierce competition has crept in, becoming part of our DNA. Do we actually think about our own species, when a career comes in?
Are we selling an item that is not actually required by another person? As financial advisors, do we sell loan products to people who cannot repay the debt or to those we know would definitely struggle with repayment? Where are our ethics, our standards?
In today’s fast-paced world, employers are fishing for the best talent – particularly in high-skilled STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) sectors – prompting employees to seek unnatural and idealised work environments in order to survive.
In the work place today, unknowingly we have become battle bots. Battling to win and try to gain more mileage than others. We have kept aside our human qualities and embraced an artificial life motivated only by profits, promotions, etc. – the blame lies within all of us.
We need to understand that, by cultivating a happy, healthy workforce definitely makes more economic sense, when the risk of lost productivity is taken into account.
Interestingly, if you search what humanity is, the results would appear in many different terms such as: compassion, tolerance, goodness, good-heartedness, consideration, understanding, sympathy, gentleness, leniency, mercy, brotherly love, fellow feeling, humaneness, kindness, pity, tenderness, benevolence, charity, generosity.
Now, let’s ask ourselves, do we carry these values to our work place?
By nature, we are social animals and want to socialise with other people. It’s spontaneous and wired to our system. Most of our workplaces, when considering the job role and technology, we tend to forget about the basics. What does it mean to be human? And most importantly, what sort of environment do we want to create?
How did we lose it?
As most of you could remember a couple of decades ago people used to support each other in their workplace. Then came the various controls to mitigate the various risks associated with technological advancement. We created silos and our own spaces to fight this. No one would even look at your PC screen anymore, let alone help each other.
While all of the control mechanisms are needed in today’s fast-moving world, do we really need to lose the human touch along with it?
Let’s not be overwhelmingly concerned about artificial intelligence, analytics or robotics in the workplace; instead it’s time to worry about losing human connections.
Let’s re-embrace humanity before it’s too late
Since we possess the ability to walk in someone else’s shoes, to understand others in spite of their flaws, we need to continue to retain them. While keeping up with technology is imperative in today’s competitive business environment, leaders should make sure that technology doesn’t lead to the death of human touch.
As adults and leaders we must start cultivating human values and advocate them to the younger generation in our workplace. After all, as long as we help each other, bring humanity to the discussion tables, and discuss issues rather than firing e-mails to our colleagues, we can with ease find solutions within ourselves.
If we build our education systems and values from this awareness, rather than from the desire to provide human machines to the labour force, we would still repossess some of the humanity that has already been lost before it disappears altogether.
(The writer is a corporate trainer, banking consultant and the founder of Dew Associates. He counts over 25 years of experience in the corporate world and global banking industry. He can be reached via mail email@example.com.)