One of the things I try very hard NOT to be, particularly when wearing the Workology Co hat, is overly political or controversial.

Having spent two and half decades assisting clients to manage conflict or its fall out in one way or another, I don’t like to invite it into my working world where I can avoid it.

Which is why I’m a little hesitant to say what I need to say next, as it is possible, I might upset a few of my fellow HR practitioners.

But here it is.

At Workology co, I/we actively dislike* the expression human centric, and apart from the narrow 750ish words of this blog, you won’t find me/us using it.

What does human centric mean?

In all honestly, even reading definitions of what ‘human centric’ means, tends to send me to sleep. It just doesn’t feel authentic to me, but rather some fancy HR term that means little to anyone outside the field.

Side note: when writing blogs, as my favourite Comms Guru and unofficial Comms Director Holly Cardamone knows all too well, normally I struggle with writing far too many words for your average blog. But with this – the expression humancentric rubs me so totally the wrong way, that I struggled to write this at all.

Back to it though. And having gulped down a double shot expresso in order to stay awake long enough to ask my friend The Googles for a definition, here is what I found:

Human-centred design is an approach to interactive systems development that aims to make systems usable and useful by focusing on the users, their needs and requirements, and by applying human factors/ergonomics, and usability knowledge and techniques. (Wikipedia)

Are you still awake? See what I mean?

Ok, here’s another one..

To create a vision and strategy that is confident in today’s rapidly changing world, leaders need to add a crucial empathetic lens to strategy to help understand the wants and needs of individuals, specifically those humans experiencing the service or product, and involved in making it happen. Leaders need to look beyond customers’ and employees’ actions to unearth their motivations and attitudes. Studying what people did is outdated, understanding why people do what they do is the future. And those insights can provide an organization with a compass for the future. [Accenture]

And now we are getting somewhere (we can thank good old Forbes for this one)…

While every business has its own unique recipe for a solid culture, people-centricity should always be the secret sauce. That means leaders should foster a culture where employees truly feel valued. From directly involving workers in more decisions to supporting them to achieve their full potential, leaders should make employees feel that their needs are not only heard but made a priority.

Tomato- tomato

I’ve thought long and hard about what it is about the expression that I don’t like.

Apart from the fact it has the same Palov’s dog response in my brain to when someone mentions ‘tax’ (again with the sending me to sleep thing).

At the end of the day, I know I need to dial it back a bit (a lot?!) when it comes to my dissing on the human-centric thing.

In reality, an organisation that adapts a human centric approach to their employees, is still going to be doing a lot of what I love to see in organisations.

Because, as one of the participants in my research for Workology Co’s white paper explained, the human centred design approach is preferable to…

…a simple compliance approach. Instead, we review policies and procedures and assess whether these negatively affect the employee experience, as this will have a flow-on effect on customer experience. For example, we recently launched our workplace flexibility guidelines using a design thinking approach with several ideations and ensuring that our guidelines weren’t necessarily applied as a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

In other words, you say human centric design approach, I say people first approach. Tomato-tomato, potato-potato.



In a nutshell, an organisation adopting a human centric approach will obviously be taking important steps towards creating exceptional workplace culture.

Just don’t expect us here at Workology Co to start using this expression any time soon.


*My mother always told me not to say I ‘hate’ anything. Actively dislike instead for the win. Or, if you prefer something more highbrow: odium, abhorrence, detestation. You get the gist…