The Art & Science of Workplace Communication

Like so much of the employee engagement and workplace transparency innovation we are seeing, you have to wipe away the past and think about what these exciting new tools are doing to impact the world of HR.

Many focuses at the moment is on artful HR. The art of HR as being about people, relationships and change – and it’s easy to see how social recognition supports each one of these themes:

People. Artful HR recognizes that people are emotional beings with needs and aspirations which aren’t always directly connected with their employer. The approach values this diversity and therefore enables and encourages people to be themselves, trusting them to make sensible choices for the business. This includes the trust to articulate their views about the business, and other people in the business in an appropriate way. This is why social employee recognition is a wonderful example of artful communication. It’s based on trusting employees to do what’s appropriate and make useful comments about the things which are meaningful to them. So, as well as the range of benefits which social recognition should provide, including increased engagement and productivity etc., it’s also a great way to develop a more human, and emotionally rich organization.

Relationships. Artful HR understands that our increasing connectedness and the growing importance of collaboration at work, means that we also need to value the relationships between people, as well as the individuals themselves. The approach therefore focuses on connecting people together, helping create and develop positively focused bonds between people, based upon an understanding of the value that other individuals can provide to somebody’s own work, and the organization they work within. There are a lot of different ways of developing people’s relationships, but I’d struggle to identify one which is as important, or as useful as social recognition. This is because recognition doesn’t just connect people together like a lot of other social collaboration tools, but it also helps them understand the relationship between themselves, and what it is about one person’s actions or behaviors, which the other person values. Social recognition works best when it’s connected to the organization’s overall values, but an individual’s recognitions provide a useful signal about which of these are most important to them, as well as how they believe these values can best be expressed.

Change. Everything seems to be changing, including of course our HR, and recognition approaches too. And in a changing world, one of the most important things we can do is to help people see things differently, rather than having them all see everything in the same way. This is the key source of agility and innovation, and is one of the key reasons why I think science needs to be complemented by art; science is great for helping understand the meaning of something, but we need art to generate new meaning. This is another reason why I’m such a great supporter of social recognition. To me, this is a bit like the way we often don’t know what we’re thinking, until we’ve written our thoughts down. I think it can also be difficult to understand our values, until we’ve seen the things that match our values, and those that do not. Social recognition helps us articulate and clarify our values, and as the business environment changes, it helps point towards how actions and behaviors need to change as well.