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29th November 2017

Building The 100% Human at Work Community in Kenya and Beyond

The 100% Human at Work initiative has been traveling the world this year, building new communities and engaging in conversations around developing 100% Human companies in different regions.

The group’s penultimate stop for the year was at Safaricom headquarters in Nairobi on the 10th of November. Safaricom CEO and B Team Leader, Bob Collymore has long been a supporter and advocate for the initiative’s work helping the company embed 100% Human at Work principles in all aspects of its business model.

At a gathering of just over 30 CEOs and human resources professionals from major corporations, the 100% Human at Work team introduced the ideas that fuel the initiative and led an interactive discussion around what this could mean for business in Kenya and beyond.

Julie Gichuru, an entrepreneur and African media personality, moderated the session and ensured the discussion was challenging and wide-reaching. While the conversation covered some ideas and thinking from other companies around the world, participants were primarily interested in hearing from the experts in the room, particularly Paul Kasimu, Director, Resources Division at Safaricom. He shared ways in which Safaricom are leading the way in building a 100% Human workplace.

While the discussion covered a wide variety of ideas, here are a few of the key takeaways from the day:

  • The evolution of zombie culture and why we need to combat it: The 100% Human at Work team really liked, or perhaps hated, the idea that a zombie culture is developing in many organisations. Teams are disengaged and therefore not really present in the working environment. One contributor described this as “resignation without the letter.” Generally, there was a desire to develop solutions that create better working environments that allow people to be present.
  • Embracing the side hustle: The side hustle was not a new idea for the leaders in the room. They expected the majority of their employees to dedicate time to passions and interests outside of their day job. The discussion focused a lot on how to make sure companies aren’t competing with a side hustle, but rather accepting and embracing it. This led to conversations around inclusivity, people being able to bring their whole selves to work, aligning work with personal aspirations and building two-way trust in organisations.
  • A well-established hierarchy: At several points, the conversation came back to the idea of hierarchy, status and perceptions of entitlement. Many companies in Kenya are still structured around traditional hierarchies and there was a perception that this will be difficult to change. Participants discussed how it is possible to take small steps toward gradual change rather than upending the whole system.
  • The purpose-led organization: The discussion touched upon idea of purpose, for both employees and companies. Rita Kavashe, Managing Director of Isuzu East Africa and a B Team Africa Leader, shared her vision for embedding purpose in her team. She used the example of a mechanic, emphasizing that he or she isn’t just fixing a vehicle, they are helping get children to school to give them an education and are part of driving the overall economy of a country. This vision helps her employees understand how their work changes lives and drives them to keep innovating for heightened impact.

The conversation came full circle when discussing the war for talent and fear of losing team members to competitors. Developing solutions that engage employees, build trust, allow them to bring their whole selves to work and understand that their role has a purpose are all powerful ways to help retain talent. Companies must also acknowledge that employees have a variety of interests and needs. If they foster an environment that helps employees feel they have time and support to follow their pursuits, they will have a happier, more deeply invested team.

This gathering helped develop thinking that 100% Human at Work principles aren’t just a “nice-to-have” guide for African companies; they should be a fundamental part of overall strategy that not only improves lives, but is a key factor in business success. See how companies around the world are putting these 100% Human principles to practice here.