4 Must Have Tools for the Human Resource Professional

Our greatest responsibility as human resource specialists is not just to explain policies and content, but to foster real human connection. Our responsibility to connect with employees and get those employees to connect with each other is one of the most important roles we play.

Amidst the countless ways we can foster human connection, four highly effective tools rise to the top: vulnerability, proximity, similarity, and team.

When you use these tools intentionally, you’ll speed up the likelihood and depth of connections in your work environment.


Vulnerability says, “I’m sharing personal information with you. After you listen, you share information with me.

In this process of sharing, people actively open up to others.

Many people place a negative connotation on vulnerability. They fear becoming vulnerable will open them up to hurt or attack if someone knows too much. But think of it positively.

When you open yourself to others, you open yourself to growth. As you connect with others, you gain the opportunity to learn from them.

  • What are you doing to be more vulnerable in the workplace?
  • Do you share personal experiences as you train others?

Finding ways to both be vulnerable and promote vulnerability among employees leads to increased human connection.


Proximity says, “I am more likely to connect with you if we are literally closer.

When people are in close contact with others, they are more likely to talk. Sure, the conversations usually stay at surface level and consist of idle chatter, but they’re instrumental in fostering human connection.

By engaging in something as seemingly useless as “small talk,” people build connections.

  • So, as you facilitate training in the workplace, how do you capitalise on proximity?
  • Do you greet people as they enter?
  • Do you walk around the room while you instruct?

These small efforts to decrease the physical distance work in favour of connection.

Consider ways to promote proximity among the participants. Simple practises like changing seating helps people to engage in more conversation and build deeper connections.

Without a strong sense of connection, people often become silent in the workplace. When the workplace becomes a culture of silence, our job as human resource professionals becomes much more difficult. 


Similarity says, “I’m more likely to connect with you when I see myself in you.”

When we’re able to recognise a shared history, personality trait, or experience, we open ourselves to connection.

Even sharing the same name as someone makes us less likely to judge them. Researchers say we give people an extra two minutes on average to get to know them in initial conversation if we have the same name.

No matter how small and insignificant, commonalities build connection.

How can you help employees find similarities with you and each other? Get to know each other’s likes/dislikes.

  • What sports do you both like?
  • Do you have a pet?
  • Is there a book you both enjoyed?

Consider providing employees with an idea card of “get-to-know-you” questions they can ask each other before a training. They may connect over something simple like a book, or something more complex like a shared problem at work. Either way, they’re now more open to each other because of what they share.


Team says, “It’s us against the world. You and I will work together against our common foe.”

‘Team’ is the most powerful way to form connections but the most difficult to build in a training environment. We often focus on building camaraderie among employees only— maybe you provide a challenge for employee groups with a reward at the end — but the most effective teams include the leaders as well.

How can you become part of their team?

One of the best ways is to decide how “we” can overcome a problem in the workplace. Then, work together through training days or sessions to actually solve that problem.

As you overcome adversity, you bond together, and ‘togetherness’ promotes human connection.

What if vulnerability, proximity, similarity, and a sense of team helped you increase human connection? The right conditions have to be in play for human connection to develop, but the more connected you and your employees become, the faster your barriers to learning will disappear.

Without a strong sense of connection, people often become silent in the workplace. When the workplace becomes a culture of silence, our job as human resource professionals becomes much more difficult. 

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