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Introducing Conscious Quitting + Conscious Culturing

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*Originally Published by BenefitsPro

Always let your conscience be your guide. While none of us have our own personal Jiminy Cricket sitting on our shoulders, many workers are now making job choices based more on their conscience than a paycheck. We’re experiencing a conscious awakening, taking intentional steps to ensure our workplaces do more good than harm to our wellbeing, society, and the planet. People want to show up to places that align with their values and want to do work that creates something more meaningful — and impactful — for not just the employees and stakeholders but society and the planet too. If alignment is missing in these areas, they’re leaving their roles in search of it somewhere else.

What is conscious quitting?

It’s not enough for companies to provide competitive pay and benefits to attract top talent; they also need strong values that employees can align with on a personal level. No one wants to work for the big bad corporation, but instead, we want companies to use their influence, power, and money to create a better, healthier world for all. Over 4,000 employees in the U.K. and U.S. were surveyed, and an overwhelming majority said they want to work for companies that have a greater impact on the world. Still, two-thirds didn’t believe companies were going far enough to tackle environmental and societal challenges. Nearly half of the respondents said they’d resign if their individual values didn’t align with the organizations (even with the slowing job market, layoffs, and continued inflation). These opinions are manifesting in the latest workplace trend — conscious quitting.

Employees are voting with their feet and leaving companies that either don’t hold similar values or don’t practice the values they have in place. A survey conducted in the U.K. found that 20% of respondents would not accept a job with a company lacking in ESG standards. And 82% said shared values were highly important when searching for new roles. While a U.S. survey found nearly half of the workers would quit if their company did not deliver a positive impact.

 Why now?

We’ve lived in a “perma-crisis” since the world was 2020’d. Many of us are still reeling from the impact of the pandemic, social and political unrest, global conflict, and environmental decay that threatens our security and stability. This is even greater for younger employees because they are fearful for the world they’ll inherit. And they’re right to be afraid since it’s believed millennials will be the first generation to be worse off than the previous generation.

But it’s not all bad. The changes that continue to impact our world and workplaces are driving the demand for a new social contract that is mutually beneficial for both the employee and employer that places purpose, values, and greater impact as top priorities. More people are stepping up to take their share of responsibility in co-creating workplaces and lives that are moving the needle towards a more sustainable world for all people.

What can employers provide to keep employees happy and invested — conscious culturing?

Hiring has slowed, but employees still are holding many of the cards. Resignations are three times higher than layoff numbers, and January’s job report showed half a million new jobs were added. No matter what the future holds for employment, companies will still need talented people to innovate, strategize, and produce. The alternative to keeping folks from consciously quitting is conscious culturing.

I've worked with organizations to help build strong cultures with embedded values and purpose for over a decade. When companies intentionally create environments that prioritize people with profits, they get a double ROI — the traditional return on investment and a ripple of impact to their employees, stakeholders, community, society, and the planet. As one of the execs at Starbucks described it, he didn’t have to feel the jolt of waking up to the news every morning; no matter what was happening in the world, he knew he was working on social justice and climate change every day.

3 tips for creating a conscious culture

1. Put purpose + values in place

Purpose is the anchor that keeps us and our organizations steady, especially in rocky seas. It tethers us to a shared idea that we can use when facing difficult decisions. Purpose is a grounding force so that no matter what may come, the highs and lows, we can be resilient in knowing what we’re doing in our work and lives is part of something greater than ourselves.

So how does purpose apply in the workplace? When workers have a sense of purpose, they’re three times as likely to stay loyal to their employer (McKinsey). Purpose is a critical driver of high-growth companies, and most companies with an average of 30% annual growth in the previous five years had moved “purpose” to the core of their strategy (HBR).

Clearly define and align purpose, values, and behaviors. Purpose acts as the North Star goal, and values and behaviors are the guiding compass. We developed the Happiness Heartbeats exercises to help people identify their individual purpose and connect it with the organization. The exercise allows people to revisit and reflect on their personal and professional highs and lows to see how their purpose aligns within the organization.

With a clearly defined individual purpose, you can find ways for your employees to live it within the organization and feel a greater connection to something more meaningful. Set goals, roles, and responsibilities that can support their purpose.

2. Transparency in all things

Transparency is communicating authentically and honestly, whether good or bad. It seems day after day, we hear these horror stories about employees finding out they no longer have a job because they’re locked out of their email. Or return to work policies put in place without a discussion or consideration of people’s situations. In every business, there are ups and downs; but leaders can be transparent about the why behind decisions and deliver uncomfortable news with empathy, compassion, and humanity. Transparency in the workplace builds authentic relationships between employees and employers, and it starts with understanding that we’re all human and want to be treated as such.

Create channels for people to communicate openly and honestly. Share company news, goals, and strategies often and always explain the why behind them. Invite employees to be a part of the conversation too. This will give them a sense of belonging because they feel included and heard. Be courageous to admit when you don’t know something or if you got something wrong. This can be extremely difficult; people in leadership carry the irrational burden that they’re supposed to have all the answers, and being wrong is never a good feeling. But embracing your humanness with vulnerability is extremely powerful because we’ve all been there before.

3. Create psychological safety

Several years ago, Google launched the Project Aristotle study to determine what makes a team effective. They discovered the most effective teams were those that felt psychologically safe to take risks and make mistakes without fear. In these teams, people felt they could authentically share the good and bad with their colleagues.

To begin creating psychological safety in your workplace, carve out time outside of deadlines and bottom lines for authentic conversations. Intentionally communicate and share. Find out what’s happening in the lives of your employees, not just their workload. Provide safe spaces for real-talk about where your employees are mentally, emotionally, physically, financially, and of course, purposefully. 

Ready to embed purpose, values + behaviors into your workplace? We can help.