Why You Need to Humanize Your Business Now

HUMANIZE. It means giving something human characteristics.

“What does it mean, exactly, to humanize a business?” I’ve been asked this question several times. It’s sometimes followed up by questions like “Why would I want to humanize my business?” and “How would my business benefit if I humanize it?”

Customers and Employees Are Both Humans Involved in Business

When we talk about humans involved in business, people tend to think about the customer or the consumer-first mentality. Perhaps this is because most of us have been taught that “the customer is always right.”

This popular phrase was coined by Harry Gordon Selfridge, John Wanamaker and Marshall Field–all successful retailers in the early 1900s. However, they did not intend for the customers to be in the right at all times. 

Instead, it was a way of reiterating that customers are special to businesses.

It is right to always treat customers with respect. After all, they do bring in the revenue for the company. On the other hand, businesses should also remember that their employees are human beings too. 

Employees are the reason that companies can promote and sell their products and/or services to consumers. Unfortunately, the reality is that in many companies, employees are often The Forgotten Foundation of Business.

Employee Satisfaction Affects the Bottom Line

According to the Annual Employee Engagement Report 2019, there was a 71% Overall Engagement Rate in the U.S.–the report concluded that “people feel more satisfied with their jobs and their coworkers and are less satisfied with their managers and their organizations.”

Humanize businesss
Humanize businesss

Also according to this report, U.S. businesses lose $483 billion to $695 billion annually as a consequence of productivity loss due to disengaged employees. 

The report also found that faith in the company’s future, trust in management and the company’s level of investment in its people impact employee engagement the most.

According to human resources and financial services firm Towers Perrin, “companies with engaged workers grew their earnings per share 28% over 12 months, while those with low engagement experienced an 11% decline.”

The Drastic Change COVID-19 Brought to the Employment Landscape

As of August 2019, there were more than 157 million Americans in the U.S. workforce. 

Of this total, 107.8 million people worked in private service-providing industries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Earlier this year in January 2020, an employee engagement article stated that “unemployment rates in the U.S. are at a historic low at 3.5%” and that figure is “the lowest since December 1969.” 

Unfortunately, when COVID-19 hit the U.S. later that month, no part of the workforce was prepared for the effects of the pandemic. 

From March to June 2020, the unemployment rate rose higher than the unemployment rates in two years of the Great Recession that started in 2008.

According to Pew Research Center, the U.S. unemployment rate increased from 6.2 million in February 2020 to 20.5 million (13%) in May 2020. 

Therefore, it is no surprise that worry and stress have led to an all-time low in U.S. life satisfaction

However, surprisingly, according to a Gallup poll, the percentage of engaged U.S. workers reached 38% compared to only 13% who were actively disengaged.

Gallup research indicates more than 30 million people are unemployed and, the organization admits that, for now, these individuals are not in their employee engagement index pool of respondents. 

But before these people became unemployed, they participated in another study measuring engagement levels just when the pandemic began. 

They recorded slightly lower engagement than other workers before they became unemployed.

For those who are lucky enough to have stayed in the workforce, having a job makes them more appreciative of their status. This is potentially one reason why they were giving more positive responses to the engagement questions in the survey.

Gallup research also found that changes in employee engagement directly correlate with organizational practices such as top executive involvement, manager education, effective communication and accountability.

In other words, you need to humanize your business if you want to increase employee engagement.

Humanization Will Benefit Everyone

Ten or twenty years ago, companies didn’t need to be human. Branding didn’t need to be human. Operations didn’t need to be human. 

In fact, for many businesses, the hiring process was cold and rigid. It was, and in some cases still is, difficult to get into big corporations as an employee. We have been taught to build businesses that have machine-like efficiency. 

We pride ourselves in efficiency and productivity because of the things that we learned from the industrial era.

Today, businesses are allowed to operate ways they weren’t allowed to 10 years ago.  

Now, you’re allowed to express yourself. You’re allowed to be controversial. You’re allowed to take a stance. You’re allowed to have an opinion and to have personality in ways that brands have never allowed their employees to have in the past.

Before we were hit with the pandemic, some companies developed funny, creative ways to promote their brand. Some even created products that had nothing to do with their original product as a way to advertise the original product. 

And since these companies made it fun for consumers, they ultimately developed a cult following.

Similarly, you’re allowed to take a more human approach with regard to how you interact with your employees. 

Allow your people to be open about their emotions. They need to feel valued and understood. By doing so, this will also help increase employee loyalty in your business. 

Humanizing Business and Moving Forward

Will the increase in employee engagement continue after the pandemic? There is no data confirming this, as of now. 

But because of COVID-19, employers have transitioned to allow most, if not, all employees to work remotely. 

Since workers are communicating electronically, the interaction between coworkers and their bosses has increased. 

In many cases, communication has extended to activities like shared yoga sessions and online chats after work to build relationships and reduce stress.

When employees feel appreciated, they’re happy. When they’re happy, they’re more productive. When they’re productive, that translates to more sales for the business, which means more profit.

Consider taking steps to start humanizing your business–it’ll pay off in the long run in many more ways than you’d expect.

In love and respect,

Hilary Corna



Hilary Corna

Bestselling Author, Keynote Speaker, Podcast Host, Founder of the Human Way ™...

Hilary’s favorite title is HUMAN.


I am starting a revolution. One business and one person at a time.



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