The Four Major Reasons Why Human-Centered Organisational Approaches Fail


A human-centered organisational approach puts people first as opposed to only prioritizing results and profit. It is a strategic imperative that emphasizes the place of people/employees in sustaining positive business outcomes.

Global leaders are beginning to realize that investing in employee well-being is a catalyst for increased profitability and sustained relevance in the digitalized global economy. Putting people at the heart of strategy has become even more imperative in the face of hybrid and virtual work.

When implemented right, a human-centered organisational approach influences every key aspect of the organisation, from leadership, decision-making, talent development and retention strategies, policies, processes, and the overall structure.


However, we have observed that most organisations attempts to transition to more human-centered approaches fail due to these four major reasons. 


Lack of trust

Trust may seem like a non-essential commodity at first but it is not.

A recent PWC study showed that 50 % of CEOs believe that the lack of trust is the main threat to their organisations. Leaders must understand that the core of a human-centered design is building connections between teams and the organisation’s goals.

When people trust their leaders and feel valued, they are motivated to go beyond meeting targets to exceeding them. With this trust, employees are more open to collaborating, sharing information, and finding ways to create synergy to achieve higher levels of engagement across the organisation. In return, this boosts the employee's trust in their capabilities enabling them to expand their capacity.

It is time for organisations to think critically and find ways of building trust throughout departments, teams, and the workforce.


Little to no investment in the development of talent and potential

Another area in which leaders fail is to shift investment from performance development to potential development. The former is focused solely on equipping employees with the necessary skills to excel at their jobs and nothing more. The latter, however, is focused on continually upskilling and reskilling the workforce so they can execute tasks that may require a different set of skills in the new economy.

Human-centered leaders believe that the potential of every employee can be developed and harnessed given the right tools, empowerment, and a psychologically safe environment. They are forward-thinking and they constantly strive towards creating a culture of recognition through their leadership.

This is a culture in which employees feel valued, respected, and empowered beyond contributing to the profitability of the organisation.


Lack of empathy

Empathy is central to human-centerednes as it is one of the key factors to building a loyal and committed workforce.

Organisations must confidently communicate their business and leadership strategy, and demonstrate how their approach will sustainably center the stakeholders while creating long-term value.

To achieve this, organisations must shift their focus to understanding what people do and why they do what they do by asking the right questions. This is a difficult task that requires a deep understanding of empathy for people and their circumstances as a human-centered organisational approach will always be empathetic about the lives and experiences of the employees.

Understanding the needs of the people directly involved with the services and products organisations provide and building facts and data around this understanding is the future of strategy.


The resistant nature of organisational culture

Many attempts to transition into a proper human-centered organisational design often fail because leaders underestimate the resistant nature of organisational cultures. Transformation cannot only occur by changing policies alone.

Transformation starts with people. It has to start with the people who spearhead the conversations around change.

Organisations need to invest in educating leaders on the importance of a human-centered approach to long-term sustainable relevance. Leaders must unlearn and re-learn the tenets of human centricity in leadership and put them into practice. By doing so consistently, they will inevitably model the desired human-centered culture throughout the whole organisation.

The impact of embracing and embedding a human-centered approach into the fabric of the organisation is unequivocally tangible. It is key to remaining relevant as the future of work, workers and workspaces evolve.


Natalie Schrogl - Author

Founder & Managing Director, The Interface Leadership

Natalie Schrogl is a sought after leadership strategist, keynote speaker, and creator of "The ARMOUR of Leadership", a template for leadership transformation and a solid guide to crafting a sustainable response to the changing leadership landscape.