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Bring Your Human to Work

10 Surefire Ways to Design a Workplace That Is Good for People, Great for Business, and Just Might Change the World

By Erica Keswin
  • Read in 13 minutes
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  • Contains 8 key ideas
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Bring Your Human to Work by Erica Keswin

Bring Your Human to Work (2018) explores how organizations can put human connection at the center of their business. It outlines the benefits, both financial and social, of encouraging better communication and deeper relationships between coworkers. 

Key idea 1 of 8

Bringing your authentic self to work is good for both you and your company.

We’re often taught to keep our professional and personal lives separate. But it might be time to rethink this rule. That’s because when you try to keep a strict divide between your work and the rest of your life, you're missing out on a key opportunity – to bring your humanity to work with you and to be your authentic self all day, every day. 

A study from Harvard Business School found that businesses which celebrate their employees’ authentic personalities enjoy higher employee retention and more satisfied customers than businesses that try to force a uniform “corporate identity” on their staff. 

The key message here is: Bringing your authentic self to work is good for both you and your company. 

So what does business authenticity look like in action? A company based around the humble kitchen apron can show us the way. 

When Ellen Bennett began her apron company, Hedley & Bennett, she branded herself as a millennial who was wise beyond her years. She began telling people that she wanted to make the world a better place – one apron at a time. Her communication style was authentic, too, even if that meant dropping the occasional F-bomb. This may not have been strictly corporate behavior, but it did make her stand out from the crowd. These days, Hedley & Bennett is a global leader in fashionable kitchen aprons. Ellen credits her success to simply being “real” with everyone around her – from her employees to her clients to her investors. 

So how can you make your company or brand feel more real? Well, one of the best ways is to embrace authenticity – and to start telling stories. After all, the stories that we tell about ourselves let others know who we are and who we want to become. 

One company that uses storytelling to powerful effect is the airline JetBlue. At the onboarding ceremony for new hires, JetBlue employees take to the stage and tell stories that highlight the brand’s values. But JetBlue doesn’t just let employees tell the company’s stories; it also uses audio recordings of satisfied customers who talk about their positive experiences with the company. 

One story, for instance, comes from a mother who describes how a JetBlue crew member helped her disabled son access a bathroom in an emergency. Through storytelling, JetBlue teaches its new recruits about the company’s values. But perhaps more importantly, the stories also showcase the warm, authentic face of the company. 

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