How To Create A Conscious Workplace Culture

You want employees who are happy and fulfilled in their jobs. Nathan Havey, founding partner at Thrive, sums up the steps you can take to create a company culture that both engages employees and strengthens our social fabric.

Nathan Havey

Founder and CEO of Thrive

Who He Is:

Nathan Havey is the founding partner at Thrive, where he teaches clients to transform their workplace culture. Nathan is a sought-after speaker, a frequent contributor to Conscious Company Magazine, and he is the host of Sum and Substance, a storytelling event about purpose at work. He also wrote and leads an on-demand course on The Foundations of Conscious Business.

Q: Why is it essential that leaders work to make theirs a conscious company?

A: The best way to think about it is that conscious business is an updated operating system for the workplace. At many workplaces, we are still running Windows 97, but conscious business just works better—it’s not always faster, but it is more sustainable. We also see double the productivity from teams at conscious companies, as opposed to teams at unconscious or “diminisher” companies.

Gallup consistently finds more than two-thirds of the workforce in the United States is disengaged. Employees are clocking in and clocking out and just trying not to get fired. We spend half of our lives at work, and it’s just a shame to not like what you’re doing. Eighty-nine percent of people in the United States don’t feel cared about personally by their management, and think “as soon as something else comes along, I’ll be out of there.”

We spend half of our lives at work, and it’s just a shame to not like what you’re doing. Eighty-nine percent of people in the United States don’t feel cared about personally by their management.

Q: What workplace characteristics are most critical for cultivating engaged employees?

A: If you are underpaying people and if there’s not fairness, that can be a real problem. Once compensation is fair and once the benefits are fine, further investment in perks won’t get you further. Instead, you need to focus on four key areas:

  • Meaning. Demonstrably show impact to your employees. I work with a company donating 5% of their profits to water projects in Africa, but it doesn’t connect with employees because there’s no line of sight where people really can experience the progress they are making on the mission.
  • Care. There are other companies that have a very clear higher purpose and expect people to sacrifice. That is exactly wrong—you have to see the whole person in the workplace. The fallacy of leaving your personal life home at the door when you walk into work needs to be abandoned. We have to set up workplace cultures that recognize the whole person.
  • Growth. Think of the high school coach or teacher that believed in you—you knew that they cared about you because they were pushing for your greatness. Workplaces should be helping their employees grow into the people that they wish them to be.
  • Say. This is about listening to the voice and ideas of everyone in the organization and letting them know that their opinion matters. It takes some time to make it safe for people to say the things they are thinking. If things can be said, it helps everyone grow.

    Q: What’s one powerful first step employers can take to improve workplace culture?

    A: The most powerful thing to do is to find a good third-party partner that can survey your employees and do a cultural assessment for you. Leaders usually think they are doing a lot better than they are actually doing. What most people find is that they had a few significant blind spots, which means you are holding yourself back. I worked with on a cultural assessment for Biggby Coffee and helped them find their purpose through this process.

    The next best thing besides a cultural assessment is to read one of two books. The first I’d recommend is “Radical Candor” by Kim Scott which is a practical guide to care, growth, and say. The second book I’d recommend is “Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter” by Liz Wiseman.

    Q: If more workplace cultures were positive, what would the world look like?

    A: The consequence of a workplace culture with these four characteristics of meaning, care, growth, and say is that you are building a people who are going to be really adept at life.

    An employee from a conscious company is going to be a great spouse, a great parent, and a great community member. They are going to be aware of their own reactions and biases and how those works in others. They are going to be supportive to their friends and neighbors during times of need.

    There’s so much hopelessness today. Many people say there’s an unraveling of the social fabric. But very rarely do people look at workplace culture, even though that’s where adults spend half their waking hours. It’s the only community where people spend enough of their time to be a vehicle of personal growth. No matter what a company’s purpose, the other half of that purpose is to strengthen our social fabric.

    GlobalGiving partners are building workplace cultures where employees thrive.


    Featured Photo: Give Women Recovering from Fistula a Bright Future by Kupona Foundation

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