Join the “Human Revolution” at Work

In the digital age, association teams will increase their success and well-being when they focus on human interaction and engagement at work, says workplace strategist Erica Keswin, opening ASAE’s Associations @ Work Business Conference on Monday.

Can you guess the number of times you’ve looked at your phone today? If you’re not sure or answered “a lot,” you’re not alone.

According to a Deloitte study, Americans check their smartphones 12 billion times per day, and last year, the average U.S. consumer spent about five hours each day looking at a mobile device.

While technology certainly makes it easier to communicate, find information, and conduct business online, the tools we use are also creating detachment among people and the world around us.

When people are, quite literally, “left to their own devices, human interactions and relationships suffer,” said workplace strategist Erica Keswin, kicking off ASAE’s Associations @ Work Business Conference in Washington, DC, on Monday morning. She encouraged attendees to be intentional about fostering human-focused interaction in their workplaces.

“Being real has to truly be your way of being,” Keswin said. “The days of the Dilbert-esque cartoons are over. You have to empower and excite your employees, especially if you want to attract millennials and Gen Z.”

In her new book, Bring Your Human to Work, Keswin explores organizations that have transformed business and workplace culture by making space for human-focused interactions. She calls it the “human revolution in response to the digital revolution.”

One example is Lyft, the San Francisco-based ride-sharing company, which encourages passengers to sit in the front seat and get to know their drivers. Another is Microsoft, which dramatically transformed its business-as-usual approach by clearly defining its core values, rethinking office space arrangements, and building intention into meetings.

For instance, Microsoft’s board meetings start with a story told by an appointed “researcher of the amazing.” Every executive board member must fill the rotating position at least once, telling a new story about a Microsoft team that’s building technology tied to the company’s core values.

Getting to know your colleagues can also benefit your health, Keswin said, because human-to-human interactions help to increase oxytocin, a relationship-bonding hormone, and decrease cortisol, known as “the stress hormone.”

“I would urge you to get to know each other and honor relationships,” she said, “because bringing your human to work is not only good for people, it’s great for business. And it just might change the world.”

Workplace strategist Erica Keswin speaks at ASAE’s Associations @ Work Business Conference. (Tim Ebner)

Tim Ebner

By Tim Ebner

Tim Ebner is a senior editor for Associations Now. He covers membership, leadership, and governance issues. Email him with story ideas or news tips. MORE

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