Improving Employee Engagement With Small Steps
The Green Apple Podcast does weekly “Green Apple Slices”, where John Garrett and Rachel Fisch discuss a recent business article related to the Green Apple Message. These shorter segments are released each Monday, so don’t miss an episode by subscribing on iTunes or Stitcher.
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John: Happy Monday morning! Another episode of Green Apple Slices coming to you here. This is John Garrett. I have here with me Rachel Fisch, the Oprah of Deloitte Bookkeeping. So, Rachel, how are you doing?
Rachel: I’m okay, John. How are you doing?
John: Doing great. I’m always excited for Mondays now.
Rachel: Me too.
John: Yeah. It seems like people are as well. They’re heading up greenapplepodcast.com and they can check out the articles that we’re talking about there and yeah, it’s always fun. This week, I found an article called Cultural Inertia: Improving Employee Engagement with Small Steps. It’s by Sarah Greesonbach for CultureIQ. She references, I guess some professors in California with the Center for Economic Policy and Research. They did some research around engagement and culture concept and they came up with Cultural Inertia.
Rachel: But I actually, really like the way that she applied the principle. Basically, so if you look at what inertia is, it’s a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged and also, a property of matter by which it continues in its existing stage of rest or uniform motion. If you can get something moving, it will keep moving. But if you keep it the same or still, then it will stay the same or still. Something doesn’t create motion from nothing, right? I think that in some cases when you’re talking about people trying to appropriate culture, trying to get culture into their workplace, they’re trying to create something out of nothing but there has to be a starting point, there has to be something that starts the movement to begin with. I actually thought that was a pretty unique way of presenting the challenge of culture in the workplace.
John: Right. Because I mean, it can be kind of a daunting task. I mean, it’s this huge mountain to climb, if you will, or this huge giant boulder to get moving and it’s really just it’s not going to be rolling down the hill full-speed right away. You just got to slow and steady, small steps, and to be honest with you, all this inertia talk is bringing me flashbacks to my Physics days when I tried to be an engineer in college but I left the first semester final halfway through when I said, “Who cares?” And just turned it in and then went and transferred over the business. That’s how that went.
I mean just I guess the older the company, the older the firm just the greater resistance you’re going to have to any sort of change which we’ve all heard, “Well, that’s how it’s always been.” That’s just the most frustrating thing ever. They can’t help it. I mean, it’s just over time that identity is forged and you just can’t flip the switch and make that change.
Rachel: No and I think that’s kind of a natural progression of getting to be this big old beast of a firm or of a company or whatever you’re working with. I mean, it’s really well-known that younger, and newer, and smaller companies are usually more nimble and so with that nimbleness there comes a feeling of mobility, right? That you’re able to pivot and make adjustments and do what you need to do to make sure that your clients are engaged, your employees are engaged, and so on.
John: Yeah. But the one thing that I thought was really, really cool in this article was they were talking about how diversity is important, plenty of studies on that, but you don’t want diversity when it comes to attitudes, and vision, and values. That’s where you need everything to be homogenous and just everything in line with each other and then, they’ll perform better because everyone’s got shared attitudes, shared vision, shared values for the organization.
Rachel: For sure. And that kind of goes back to the adage, it’s not even an old adage I don’t think where it’s, “Hire for fit, and train for skill.” There is a similarity, you can have diversity of course and there’s lots of ways to do that but overall, you want the demographics of your workplace to be excited about where they’re working, to feel invested in what they’re doing, and to feel engaged. There are of course, similarities within that even though it could be quite a diverse workforce itself.
John: Yeah, absolutely. With someone that I talked to in the Green Apple podcast a couple of weeks ago, Stacy Mueller at INT, they’re starting to do that in their interviews where they have two or three current employees, interview the person with zero technical questions just kind of, you know, “Who are you? What do you like to do?” Hanging out and it’s just a good fit for we’re going to be around each other for a lot of hours.
Rachel: I think that also encourages the candidate for their person like the, “Who are you?” bit to not live within their career, right? It’s, “Who are you outside of this? Who are you outside of whatever role you have or whatever education you’ve had?” or something like that just to get the feel for the person as a whole. I really liked when she was talking about things being applied — so the culture initiatives being applied consistently and intentionally. That to me means that there is a conscious thought of creating these initiatives as well as maintaining them which I think is really important as well. I think some people think that culture happens by accident or it’s like, “Well, what is your culture?” “Well, I don’t know, it’s whatever my employer say it is” but I think there’s value than actually creating an intention behind it and of course, being consistent with that intention as well. I like that point too.
John: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I agree. It’s just slow and steady and it’s baby steps and you just do it consistently like you said. It’s not just a giant blanket sweep of, “All right. Now, we’re this kind of a company.” It’s like, “Whoa? What?” I think one of the greatest lines that she had was just building culture does not mean building clones. It’s not everybody that’s exactly the same and a bunch of, “Yes, sir” and, “Yes, ma’am” type of people. It’s people that have that shared value and have the best interest of the organization at heart and then you’re doing things right.
Rachel: Yeah, absolutely and having small actionable steps are probably a more effective way to try to turn the tide when it comes to engagement and culture in your workplace instead of these companies engaging consulting firms that are going to go out and redesign the entire thing from beginning to end and spend billions of dollars doing all that. It probably doesn’t take a lot to create that engagement and to stay interested and invested in your employees.
John: Right, yeah. I mean that’s an excellent point, Rachel. I think that’s a great way to end this episode and send everyone out to enjoy the rest of their week. You can go to greenapplepodcast.com and find the link to the article that we’re talking about and also while you’re there if you’re listening on an iTunes or Stitcher, if you just go and leave a review or give us some five star ratings that way then people know what kind of show they’re getting in for and having a lot of fun. With that said, thank you so much, Rachel.
Rachel: Thanks, John. Have a great week.