Would you believe that a simple business initiative can decrease turnover by 50% AND inspire double-digit improvements in engagement and productivity? And it all starts with making work more human.

Today, we’re joined by Derek Irvine, the Senior VP of Client Strategy and Consulting at Workhuman, the fastest-growing social recognition and continuous performance management platform in the world. Workhuman is on a mission to shape the future of work by helping organizations connect culture to a shared purpose. In his role, Derek supports clients in leveraging proven strategies and best practices to elevate employee engagement, increase retention and improve bottom-line results. A renowned speaker and author on the topic of making work more human, Derek is the coauthor of Winning with a Culture of Recognition and The Power of Thanks, and his work is regularly featured in the country’s top HR publications.

Derek starts by sharing Workhuman’s mission to help people bring their humanness to work, discussing how anyone in an organization can initiate that change. He describes Workhuman’s dual focus on gratitude and employee recognition as well as continuous performance management. Derek also offers insight around how a high frequency of recognition positively impacts other business metrics, including productivity, engagement and employee retention. Listen in to understand what differentiates Workhuman Live from other conferences of its kind and learn how to make the business case for making work more human.



Themes explored in this week’s episode:

  • How Derek’s background in performance improvement and brand marketing inform his work at Workhuman
  • The difference between Theory X and Theory Y management styles
  • The toxicity of a work culture where feedback is weaponized
  • Workhuman’s aim to help people come to work as themselves and how anyone can initiate that change in the workplace
  • Workhuman’s dual focus around gratitude and employee recognition + continuous performance management
  • How the concept of social recognition empowers ALL employees to recognize each other
  • How a shift from governance and control to humanness impacts pay equity, diversity and inclusion, and performance management
  • How recognition leads to double-digit improvements in business metrics like productivity, engagement, retention and connectedness
  • The disproportionate focus on constructive over positive feedback in traditional performance management systems
  • What differentiates Workhuman Live from other conferences of its kind and how organizers live the message with unique opportunities for gratitude and recognition
  • Leaning into your values and having the courage to bring them to life

Resources from this episode:

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Quotes from the episode:

“Everybody does come to work wanting to give their best selves to work, and it’s up to us as leaders and managers to facilitate that.”

“BE the change you desire. BE the drop in the ocean because if you start to behave in a very human way yourself, and you open up, and you interact collaboratively, you interact with a positive spirit, you give help, you seek help, you’re vulnerable, it’s amazing how the barriers come down.”

“Underneath that armor in these toxic cultures, there’s a vulnerable human being screaming to get out.”

“When people start to behave in that much more human way, happiness goes up, engagement goes up, productivity goes up. There’s a whole host of business metrics that improve.”

“If you’re in a relationship, and your partner says I love you only once a year at annual performance time … that relationship isn’t going to work.”

“It’s ALL employees’ responsibility to have eyes and ears out there looking for great opportunities to recognize each other.”

“Organizations that spend about 1% of payroll funding that type of recognition between employees … can cut in half the probability of employees leaving the company.”

“Where are the applications that focus on the humanness? Where’s the technology that’s making sure we’re connecting genuinely as humans? Where’s the projects that are focused on bringing out our best spirit?”

“That’s where Workhuman is focused is making sure that you’re working along that entire continuum, not just exclusively focused on the things that could be improved and developed, nor are we exclusively focused only on the positive. It’s making sure that you have a good, healthy, honest flow of human interaction along that entire continuum.”

“Decide the values that you truly are and then have the bravery to truly live by them.”

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