Border crossing refers to the practice of going beyond preconceived categories of what is legitimate and what is not. We can achieve innovation in the workplace by placing greater importance on understanding our employees.
What is Border Crossing?
Border crossers can check their presumptions about their role and venture into unfamiliar territory. Gaining a broader perspective of functions and responsibilities can provide valuable information about how different departments can work together. As an example, I could set aside notions of what it means to be an “employee”, what it means to be a “mom”, and even what “home” means. This way, I can explore new meanings of these concepts that I had previously constructed. This can seep into roles or positions within companies. For instance, a developer can cross a border into human resources. They can explore what it means to take care of a team, resource plan, and be conscious of the company as a whole.
Why is Border Crossing Valuable?
In a world that is continually growing and imagining, there are opportunities that allow for the creation of new identities and the definitions that surround them. For example, previously, most people would assume that women had to choose between work and having a family. However, over time women explored what it would mean to work AND have a family. Many different scenarios come from this exploration. Employing full-time childcare, working part-time, working from home and balancing the mother and employee roles simultaneously. You can start to see how multiple people create different views based on their experiences and begin exploring beyond preconceived notions.
How can Border Crossing increase innovation in the workplace?
As an employer or someone who works in Human Resources, border crossers are important to acknowledge. They are innovators identifying new ways to implement unique benefits to employees. Border crossing provides them an opportunity to learn and grow themselves and broaden their perspective in a world that is often centered on taking care of one’s own self. This can create community and culture that is more empathetic and caring, and therefore more appealing to the workforce. The concept of border crossing can even filter into different departments and industries, allowing for better collaboration and problem-solving.
What can you do to understand your employees?
Taking the time to listen to employees and their use of vocabulary helps you realize and understand their needs. Richard Roty (1989) explains in his book that “the human self is created by the use of vocabulary rather than being adequately or inadequately expressed in a vocabulary (p. 7 italizied added). This means it’s unfair for us to place people in boxes based on our own perspectives. People should not be defined by preconceived ideas. Every person is unique and their perspectives and values are unique. Innovative workplaces will listen and create a community that formulates space for these identities. Furthermore, including benefits that honor border crossers will help employees feel valued. Therefore, creating higher retention of those invaluable employees.