The Aqueduct – Treat people with Dignity and Respect



In 3500 BEC the Minoans, on the island of Crete built what seems to be the first aqueduct. The aqueduct had a huge impact in Roman time when the invention of the Roman Arch allowed the aqueducts to carry water for several kilometers. Fresh water was always important, but the invention of the aqueduct changed the game. The Roman bath stays famous even to this day. Previously, workers would fill jugs and carry water for long distances. The aqueduct had a huge impact on workers carrying water.

Circumstances change and people can end up in roles that are not a good fit. This can result from changes on the employer side – or with the employee. HR professionals can help both the company and the individual in these times of change - and can help make sure that everyone acts in accordance with a climate of mutual respect. The displaced worker is going through change, metaphorically moving from carrying water into a new job. These are folks who can move on to change the world, but their confidence is shaken. It is imperative that HR professionals help by treating these folks with dignity and respect – to help land them in new roles. It’s important that HR professionals also work with managers to ensure they treat people with respect.

When people get busy, they take shortcuts and cut to the chase. In situations like this, unfortunate as they may be for the employee, HR professionals and managers are busy and might lose sight of the big picture. This is an employee who’s done great work to get a job in the firm, they’ve performed well – and now find themselves on the outside. It’s critical for managers and HR professionals not to overlook the work history and uncertainty that the individual is facing.

Hey Antonia – thanks for getting together today and talking about the new developments with the aqueduct opening next week. You have been carrying water for years and you have done amazing work and been incredibly productive for our team. Your work has made Rome a better place. There are some big changes that will change your future. This new aqueduct they’ve invented will change the way we get water into the city, but I want you to know how much people respect you and your work. Your skillset and rigor will serve you well in this new world – and I wanted to reassure you that, while your job carrying water is going away, there are still many roles where you can be successful – we will still need people to carry the water to be heated, for example - and/or if you need to get some additional training to move into something new, we have some options to support you.

Times change – and the nature of work changes. It’s hard to predict what skills will be necessary in the future – but strong employees are good people – their skills are malleable and adaptable. It’s incumbent on HR professions to coach, encourage and re-train the best and brightest to adapt to fit in with the new technology. The best workers will evolve and adapt. Managers and HR professions will benefit from treating the best workers with dignity and respect, even when the work is changing – trust that people can adapt.

Read other posts in this series.


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