A Human Workplace: Your Community


A Human Workplace is a growing community of like-minded people across our state who want to learn, share, and be challenged to increase love, decrease fear to be more human-centered. A Human Workplace group gathers in a specific geographic area where state employees can gather to explore just how to make the workplace more human and effective. These groups are self-organizing and self-generating. AND we provide purpose, principles, and guidance to get started and sustain a local group. Read on to learn more, and email us (renee.smith@gov.wa.gov) to talk about sponsoring A Human Workplace in your local community. 


A Human Workplace community gathers to explore, learn, and encourage each other to better practice and advocate for a more loving, human workplace. This movement began in government, and the original focus is still clear: To shift public service from fear-based to love-based leadership, teams, and organizations where real value is delivered and improvement happens continually out of care for people.


Every local group is sponsored by a local state leader. We offer guidance and an initial approach to help groups get started, and then the group plans its own gatherings. As a group gains momentum, they tap in to the interests, questions, and skills of the group. Generally each gathering embodies a positive, respectful, and human-friendly approach to learning, exploring, and supporting each other.

A typical gathering would include:

  • Connection: Each gathering starts off with making sure that people meet and connect with others in a meaningful way. We make sure people feel welcome.

  • Infusion: A question, prompt, topic, new idea, or concept is shared to kick off the meeting. This could be from a participant or guest with expertise, from a TED talk, from a short reading, or from a participant's research of a topic to give a basic overview. Topics might include psychological safety, empathy, diversity, inclusion, human-centered design, trust, improvement, creativity, productivity, motivation, awe, gratitude, resilience, or similar subject. Speakers and facilitators are discouraged from extended lectures but instead to provide just enough information for people to engage in the next steps of exploration.

  • Exploration: Participants are given ample time to practice a skill or to reflect on and discuss a concept so they can discover and share insights about the topic. The host of the gathering may use techniques like Liberating Structures or Lean Coffee to facilitate. We believe participants have brilliant ideas, provoking questions, and powerful insights to offer, and given the chance they will inspire each other.

  • Application: A gathering isn't complete without considering and identifying how insights can be applied on the job to make the workplace more loving, human, and effective.

  • Close: Each gathering concludes in a meaningful way. Techniques for closing might include checking out or declaring a next step.

Each gathering is designed to mindfully honor and attend to the whole-person using the INSPIRE model, taking inspiration from the SPINE model developed by Terri Egan and Suzanne Lahl of SyncUp Leadership. Each of us has these seven components that INSPIRE who we are and are sources of insight and brilliance. Gatherings should invite and include us to bring our whole selves. We have…

  • Identities: Gatherings are inclusive and welcome all perspectives, experiences, backgrounds, and abilities.

  • Intuition: Gatherings should allow space for other ways of knowing besides the physical and intellectual, and could for example include something artistic or asking a question based on a gut sense of the needs of people in the room.

  • Spirit: Gatherings should have a sense of deeper meaning and purpose larger than ourselves.

  • Physical body: Gatherings should be structured recalling that people have physical bodies that need to move, rest, drink and eat. And people have physical rhythms to their attention that should be respected. People engage, focus, and learn better when they can move frequently and engage actively, rather than just sit still and listen.

  • Intellect: Gatherings should challenge people to think and help participants learn and grow in knowledge and skill. Gatherings should give folks the opportunity to contribute their insights to another person or the larger group.

  • Relationships: Gatherings should support human to human connections. People should feel heard and seen and know that they welcomed into a supportive community.

  • Emotions: Gatherings welcome emotions as normal and healthy part of being human. Emotions are understood to emanate from either fear or love. Emotions are expected to be present if people are present.


It is important that these gatherings pay attention to both people and workplace results at the same time, never giving way to only one or the other. It would be easy to drift off and lose ourselves in topics that "feel" good and forget to tie it back to work. But we can't lose sight of our commitments to our professions, our service to others, and our pact with our organizations to deliver business value. We bring each topic back to practical applications for work, for business outcomes, and for customer value.


People are calling these gatherings groundbreaking and life-changing. They describe finding the time supportive of their day to day work. Participants say they leave refreshed, energized, and inspired. They call it the best two hours of their month. Participants comment on the unique sense of community, connection, and deep value they take away. The conversations continue with each other as they return to work. They tell us these gatherings are having a profound impact on their work. They go back to working and leading with more respect for team members and more focus on delivering better results for customers. 


Join us each month in Olympia to explore, discuss, learn and share what it means to make work more human. We meet monthly in person in Olympia, usually at the Helen Sommers Building, 106 11th Avenue SW, Olympia, WA 98405. Check the News for the latest date, topic, and the link to registration. Or email renee.smith@gov.wa.gov for more information.

To Sign Up to receive emails with resources and announcements of events, please email renee.smith@gov.wa.gov.