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How to Make Work More Human: With a Nod from Sir Richard Branson

Source | | Fiona Jury

Since the beginning of time, we, as homo sapiens, have needed to adapt in order to survive. From adjusting to changes in our environment, our food and water supply, to developing communities, agricultural practices, trade and social structure, we have always acclimatised to both survive and ultimately thrive.

However, the speed of technological advancement, social media and the demands of ‘more for less’ work cultures are outpacing the human ability to adapt. This phenomenon is causing a global anxiety and depression epidemic the likes of which we’ve never seen before.

World Health Organization (WHO) data indicates that more than 600 million people suffer from depression globally and that depression and anxiety cost the global economy US$1 trillion each year in lost productivity.

As adults, we spend most of our time at work.  If our experience and relationships at work are positive and meaningful, we are energised, productive and well.  Conversely, if our experience at work is negative, has little or no meaning, is overwhelming, highly stressful or if we are fearful, harassed or bullied, this can catalyse anxiety or depression, or can exacerbate existing mental health conditions.

“Employees who feel appreciated and are treated as humans are far more likely to give extra discretionary effort, be more loyal and to go above and beyond.” – Stephanie Nash, Chief People Officer, ChapmanCG

According to World Health Organization research, every US$1 invested by a company in the treatment of depression and anxiety leads to a return of US$4 in better health and ability to work.

Aside from the fact that it’s the right thing to do, the business case for investing in more progressive and inclusive HR, wellbeing and mental health programmes is a no-brainer.

We must make work more ‘human’.

Case Studies: How to Make the Workplace More Human

“I don’t think of work as work and play as play. It’s all living.” – Sir Richard Branson

The Branson Family and Virgin Group founded a non-profit foundation named Virgin Unite to apply Virgin’s entrepreneurial approach to finding solutions for the world’s most urgent challenges.

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