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October 6-8, 2024 • San Diego, CA

Tag: company culture

Second Chance Culture: An Interview with Michelle Cirocco 

We were thrilled to have the opportunity to interview Michelle Cirocco, Chief Impact Officer at Televerde and Keynote Speaker at Culture Summit 2023. She shared the importance of fostering a culture of second chances and her own transformative journey. 

Her unique perspective not only encourages businesses to rethink their hiring practices but also reinforces society’s need to change its perception of individuals with criminal backgrounds.  

Her words serve as an inspiration for others to become advocates for change within their organizations, promoting the transformative power of second chances. 

Learn more in our interview below. 

What initially sparked your interest in fostering a culture of second chances within the workplace?  

My personal journey sparked my interest in fostering a culture of second chances within the workplace. I served a 7-year sentence at the Arizona women’s prison when I got my first exposure to Corporate America through Televerde. This opportunity for a second chance was not just a lifeline but a complete transformation. It saved my life and opened my eyes to the untapped potential within the incarcerated community. However, the stigma associated with this community was a barrier that kept many of us in the shadows. I saw talented, capable, and qualified women who had built significant knowledge and experience while working for Televerde during their incarceration being sidelined in the hiring process after their release. They were cast aside because of a past mistake, and their applications were discarded when they checked the box indicating a felony conviction. This was a heartbreaking reality that I was desperate to change. I wanted to challenge this narrative and bring to light the capabilities and potential of these individuals who, like me, were seeking a chance to prove themselves. I wanted to show that a person’s past does not define their future and that the stigma of incarceration should not be a life sentence in itself. 

Despite the awareness of the benefits, why do you think companies still exclude qualified talent from their hiring practices? 

Despite the clear benefits, many companies still exclude qualified talent from their hiring practices due to a combination of risk management and unconscious bias. The stereotypes associated with individuals with criminal backgrounds often overshadow their potential. These conscious or unconscious biases paint a picture of dishonesty, unreliability, and potential harm to the company’s reputation. This is a narrative we need to challenge and change. The reality is that people with criminal backgrounds are just as capable, hardworking, loyal, trustworthy, and dedicated as anyone else. They deserve the opportunity to prove themselves and contribute to society. By excluding them, we are not only denying them a chance at redemption, but we are also limiting the diversity and potential within our companies. 

From your experience, what are the business benefits of investing in “second chance” employees? How does it positively impact companies? 

Investing in second-chance employees brings significant business benefits. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Getting Talent Back to Work initiative and research released by SHRM, the SHRM Foundation, and the Charles Koch Institute, hiring individuals with criminal backgrounds can increase loyalty, lower turnover rates, and create a larger talent pool. These individuals often display high commitment and dedication, grateful for the opportunity to prove themselves. Furthermore, consumers increasingly demand total inclusion, making it not only a moral imperative to invest in this community but a business one. These individuals are not just employees but a testament to the power of redemption and the potential for transformation. They bring unique skills and resilience that can contribute to a company’s innovation and adaptability. 

Why must HR and culture professionals actively work towards building a culture that allows second-chance employees to thrive? 

It is crucial for HR and culture professionals to actively work towards building a culture that allows second-chance employees to thrive. This is not just about doing the right thing morally; it’s about smart business. True inclusion means not excluding anyone, including individuals with criminal backgrounds. By fostering a culture of second chances, we are not only giving these individuals an opportunity to rebuild their lives but also enriching our companies with a workforce that embodies resilience, determination, and diverse life experiences. We are challenging the status quo and pushing the boundaries of true inclusion. It’s about recognizing the potential in every individual and creating an environment where they can thrive and contribute to the company’s success. 

Could you highlight what makes your session at Culture Summit 2023, “How a Culture of Second Chances,” a not-to-be-missed session for Culture champions? 

Our session at Culture Summit 2023 How a Culture of Second Chances Will Help Businesses Thrive in the Future of Work is a must-attend for culture champions because it challenges the status quo and pushes the boundaries of true inclusion. It’s an enlightening exploration of the untapped potential within the incarcerated community and a call to action for companies to embrace a culture of second chances. This session will not only change the way you view hiring practices, but it will also inspire you to become an advocate for change within your organization. You will leave with a renewed perspective on the power of redemption and the potential for transformation. It’s not just about giving someone a second chance; it’s about changing lives and enriching our companies. 

In Conversation with Samra Zafar: Creating the Workplace of Belonging 

Welcome to an exclusive interview with Samra Zafar, a prominent figure in the HR/Culture/People space, who will be delivering a captivating keynote session at this year’s Culture Summit. Samra’s talk, titled “The Workplace of Belonging: Where Inclusion and Wellness Meet,” on Wednesday, September 27, from 9:30 am to 10:30 am PT. 

In this interview, we had the opportunity to catch up with Samra and gain insights into her inspiring journey into the Culture space. We also delved deeper into the importance of fostering inclusion and wellness in the workplace. 

Q: What initially attracted you to the Culture space? 

A: As an ambitious woman and a person of color, I faced numerous moments of exclusion and microaggressions both in my corporate career and personal life. These experiences resonated with countless individuals who reached out to me after learning about my work. This inspired me to delve into the intersectionality of human experiences, the science of inclusion and belonging, and how we can apply these learnings to foster equity and break barriers for everyone to thrive 

Q: How has your attraction to this space evolved throughout your career? 

A: Over the course of my career, I transitioned from banking to psychiatry, combining the neuroscience of human behavior with the business world and authentic leadership. Our innate need to belong as our authentic selves drives us as human beings. This necessitates developing inner resilience, fostering workplace cultures that embrace authenticity, and implementing intersectionality and DEI in diverse workplaces. To unlock the power of diversity, we must first build psychological safety that welcomes and values the contributions of diverse individuals. 

Q: What drew you to develop expertise in fostering mental health within workplaces? 

A: My passion for fostering mental health within workplaces stems from a trifecta of lived experience, scientific expertise, and business acumen. Having faced trauma and adversity in my own life, I became fascinated with understanding the science of how our brains function and unlocking the power of inner resilience. Applying this knowledge to the workplace allows us to foster inclusive mental health and authentic leadership. By combining inclusion and mental wellbeing, we can create a sense of true belonging and empower individuals to reach their fullest potential. 

Q: Could you share your thoughts on the business benefits of fostering a psychologically safe workplace? 

A: The need to be part of a community is ingrained in the core of our brains—it’s not just a “nice to have,” but a fundamental requirement. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs places social needs, including attachment, belonging, and recognition, just above physiological and safety needs. When these social needs are met, we can reach the pinnacle of the hierarchy—self-actualization, innovation, and creativity. By establishing a psychologically safe workplace where authenticity is welcomed and included, we take a vital step toward cultivating a culture of innovation, creativity, and business success. 

Q: What is the biggest challenge for HR and Culture professionals post-pandemic? 

A: In the post-pandemic era, one of the most significant challenges we face is loneliness. Extensive research demonstrates the negative impact of loneliness and disconnection on our mental health. While technology enhances efficiency, it also diminishes opportunities for organic human connection—sharing stories, personal interactions, and common experiences. Studies indicate that in-person meetings create more meaningful connections compared to virtual interactions. (See LinkedIn article June 2023) . Balancing technological efficiency with building inclusive, human, and authentic workplace cultures poses one of today’s greatest challenges and opportunities. 

Q: It’s the year 2030, what is the workplace culture dialogue about? 

A: I believe we are moving towards more open dialogue and inspired action about things we traditionally left outside of the office door. In 2030, my hope is that we will be talking openly about mental health, understand the role of intersectionality, and end the stigma around these difficult but necessary conversations. 

Q: Why is your session a MUST-ATTEND event at this year’s Culture Summit? 

A: Mental health and DEI are often seen as separate topics. In my session, I will unveil the extensive overlap between the two—they go hand in hand. The intersection between mental health and DEI is where true belonging lies. By attending my session, you will gain profound insights into fostering a psychologically safe workplace, unlocking the potential for diversity and innovation within your organization. 

 During my keynote session, I will share eye-opening stories, enlightening scientific insights, and valuable business leadership lessons. Get ready to be inspired to take action today and join me at the Culture Summit 2023. I look forward to seeing you there! 

View further information on Samra Zafar’s Culture Summit Keynote: The Workplace of Belonging: Where Inclusion and Wellness Meet  here. 

Combating Loneliness in a Remote-First Workplace: Insights from Anthym’s CEO Brian Mohr

This week, the Culture Summit team had the opportunity to interview Brian Mohr, the CEO of Anthym, a trailblazer in the HR/Culture/People space.

He will share insights on  ‘Building Real Connections in a Remote-First Workplace’ at Culture Summit 2023. We discussed why combating loneliness is a vital concern for today’s HR and Culture professionals.

The Changing Shape of Workplace Relationships

In the modern workplace, Mohr notes, remote-first environments have become increasingly prevalent, posing challenges for building authentic connections among team members. There are financial implications, too, with disconnected and lonely employees costing US companies $400 bn annually. Further info.

Mohr emphasizes the significance of relationships as the foundation for all accomplishments, and he firmly believes that not only the work itself but also the people we work with significantly impact our professional and personal lives.

Indeed, combating loneliness is now a societal issue in the US. He highlights how the US Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, has identified addressing the isolation and loneliness epidemic as a key 2023 priority for his department. Learn more  

Mohr’s company, Anthym is combating loneliness through action. For example, they are hosting FriendFest on August 1st, 2023, the United Nations International Day of Friendship, to unite people and combat isolation.

Cultivating Real Connections in a Virtual World

So how do we drive real connection when working apart? Mohr suggests implementing a routine that enables team members to get to know each other on a personal and human level. This practice fosters trust, connection, belonging, safety, and inclusion within the team. You can learn more about his approach to building connected teams in his 2023 podcast ‘The Secret Sauce for Building Connected Teams’.

Learn more about Building Team Connections at Culture Summit 2023

If you want a fresh perspective on cultivating meaningful relationships within virtual teams and gain actionable insights to enhance your workplace, attend Brian Mohr’s session at this year’s Culture Summit!


Session Information

Title: Building Real Connections in a Remote-First Workplace

Date: Tuesday, September 26, 1:00 pm-1:45 pm PT

This session will help you to learn the latest techniques to build connections in a remote workplace!

Register for Culture Summit 2023

How to Combat the Invisible Epidemic of Loneliness at Work 

Upon reading The Washington Post’s recent article on the growing public health crisis of loneliness in the U.S., we, as the founders of Make Believe Works, experienced a mix of emotions. We were heartened to realize that our business could make a meaningful impact in addressing this issue, yet saddened by our own firsthand knowledge of the pain and isolation that loneliness can inflict. As many of us culture enthusiasts well know, isolation and loneliness aren’t just limited to our personal lives, it also significantly impacts workplace morale and productivity, and contributes to quiet quitting and low retention rates.

At Make Believe Works, our expertise lies in crafting immersive and interactive experiences that foster creativity, collaboration, and connection. We firmly believe that by bringing people together in enjoyable and engaging ways, we can help alleviate the feelings of loneliness and isolation that plague so many individuals, while simultaneously cultivating the empathy and trust that teams need in order to thrive together.

One of the key ways in which our business combats loneliness is by providing a safe and supportive environment for individuals to connect. We understand that social anxiety and the fear of rejection often act as significant barriers to forming new relationships at work, particularly for those who already feel disconnected from others. That’s why we place a strong emphasis on creating events and experiences that are talent-agnostic, non-competitive, and welcoming, encouraging participants to let their guard down and engage with others naturally and comfortably.

Another powerful approach we employ to combat loneliness is by fostering creativity and playfulness. We believe that play is an integral aspect of human connection, and by harnessing our imaginations and embracing a sense of wonder, we can shatter barriers and create fresh opportunities for genuine connection. Whether it’s shaping our fondest memories out of clay or crafting symbolic gifts for colleagues with pom poms and feathers, our events are designed to encourage participants to shed their inhibitions and tap into their inner child.

Through enjoyable and low-pressure creative prompts, we empower individuals to connect with themselves and others on a deeper level, enabling them to share their unique perspectives and experiences. Our work with a diverse range of companies, non-profits, and schools has allowed us to facilitate playful yet meaningful activities that promote self-expression and community building both in-person and remotely. Witnessing firsthand the transformative power of these experiences has only fueled our enthusiasm to continue making a positive impact.

We are particularly thrilled to offer participants of the Culture Summit a chance to immerse themselves in our work through a half-day workshop in September. Central to this workshop are a series of imaginative activities that are both playful and impactful, aiming to help individuals connect internally with their own creative spirit, establish connections with new people, and foster a connected culture in the workplace. During the workshop, we will also deconstruct our approach to deepening trust, building connections, and accelerating collaboration, allowing participants to apply the insights gained to other real-life situations. By the end, attendees will depart feeling reenergized, rejuvenated, and connected.

Make Believe Works is firmly committed to addressing the hidden crisis of loneliness at work. Through the provision of safe and supportive environments for connection, and the transformative power of play and creative expression, we can help individuals feel more connected, supported, and valued. We take immense pride in the work accomplished thus far by our team and eagerly look forward to collaborating with Culture Summit as we collectively explore new and innovative approaches to tackle this pressing social issue.

(Check out Make Believe Works workshop on Wednesday, September 27th at 1 – 4:30pm PT)

The Imperative of Work-Life Balance: A New Era for HR and Culture Professionals

The global pandemic has spurred profound shifts in the workplace, compelling 58% of employees to reevaluate their work-life balance  [View Bain Report]. As HR and Culture professionals, it’s become imperative to understand, adapt, and lead this change, or risk losing valuable talent.

Work-life balance is no longer about segregating professional and personal time. It’s about integration, understanding the fluidity between these two spheres, and allowing for a more human approach to work – a transition from work-life balance to life-work integration. Learn more about work-life integration in this article from timetackle.com

Why This Matters

The pandemic’s influence on work and personal life has altered the employer-employee relationship Employees now seek companies that acknowledge their human needs and adapt their strategies accordingly. As HR and Culture professionals, we have the responsibility to foster a culture that supports these needs. It’s time to reimagine our strategies and create a more human-centric approach to talent management. Learn more about new attitudes of employees post-pandemic in this ehstoday.com article.

Guiding the Change

Flipping the switch to life-work balance demands a new framework. It calls for dynamic leadership, clear boundary setting, flexible work models, and a genuine appreciation for time off. This transformation underpins the creation of a more empathetic workplace that not only retains but also attracts top talent. People are moving towards work-life integration to gain more harmony in their life.

Learn from the Experts at Culture Summit 2023

To successfully navigate this new landscape, join us at the Culture Summit 2023, where industry experts will guide the conversation into new approaches to work life balance.

Keynote: Flip the Switch: Work-Life Balance

Monday September 25, 3:45 pm – 4:45 pm PT

  • Claude Silver, with her extensive experience and unique role at VaynerMedia, as Chief Heart Officer, brings a wealth of knowledge on creating a human-centric workplace. Marta Riggins, an authority on Employer Brand & Employee Engagement, offers invaluable insights into how to engage and retain talent in this new normal.

Together, they will discuss the switch from work-life balance to life-work balance, sharing actionable insights and strategies to implement in your organizations.

This is a rare opportunity to learn from the industry’s best and redefine your approach to work-life balance. Join us at Culture Summit 2023 and be a part of this transformative conversation.

Register for the Culture Summit 2023 here.

Elevating Organizational Success: The Power of Total Employee Experience

If you’re interested in increasing productivity, reducing absenteeism, and improving customer experience in your organization, then Total Employee Experience might be the answer for you! Total Employee Experience refers to how workers perceive their journey throughout the employee life cycle at an organization. By putting employees at the center of an organization’s strategy, a positive employee experience can be created, which can lead to a range of benefits including increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and improved quality of work.

Here are some key takeaways to keep in mind:

  • Total Employee Experience is about creating a positive employee experience by putting employees at the center of the organization’s strategy.
  • Highly engaged employees are more productive, less likely to be absent, and more likely to make positive emotional connections with customers.
  • There are a variety of ways to expand and enhance the Total Employee Experience for your staff, such as connecting with employees’ lives outside of work, ensuring autonomy, and promoting growth.

Source Medallia.com 2020.

To learn more about Total Employee Experience and how to improve it for your organization, check out Harvard Business Review’s article on the latest approaches to enhancing employee experience.

 And if you’re looking for practical insights and the latest techniques to boost Total Employee Experience, attend Danny Guillory’s Fireside Chat on “People Culture Purpose – Total Employee Experience” at Culture Summit 2023 on September 25th, 2023.

Danny is a renowned expert in the field of people, DEI, and recruitment, with over 30 years of experience. View Bio. He will be discussing how to implement radical transparency across all aspects of the total employee experience and sharing his views on the Future of Work.

Register to attend here!

5 Reasons you should attend Culture Summit 2023

As the world navigates these unprecedented times, the role of culture champions has become more critical than ever before. Mass layoffs have left organizations struggling to maintain a positive and engaging workplace culture, leading to demoralized employees and quiet quitting. 

In the face of such challenges, people professionals are faced with the daunting task of restoring their company culture and re-engaging their workforce to ensure their organization’s survival and success.

In light of this reality, here are 5 reasons why this year’s Culture Summit is a ‘Must Attend” event for HR, Culture and DEI professionals

  1. Our theme of “Re-Engage” – This year’s Culture Summit has chosen the theme of “Re-Engage” to illuminate the challenges facing today’s culture leaders and discuss approaches to address them. In these difficult times, transparency, equity, and trust should be at the heart of all staff interactions. Our conference will provide the tools to help you rebuild your company culture and grow.
  1. Reduce the cost of quiet quitting – Did you know that up to 67% of US employees and 85% worldwide could be quietly quitting? (Source HR Daily Advisor) This can be costly for businesses. According to The Conference Board’s recent study, quiet quitting costs US businesses $450 to 500 billion annually. Learn more. Using the latest techniques to re-engage with staff is vital to reduce the impact of quiet quitting for your organization.
  1. Gain access to the latest data, strategies, and frameworks – The industry leaders at Culture Summit 2023 will share the latest data, strategies, and frameworks to help you rebuild your corporate culture and reconnect with your workforce and provide you with practical strategies you can apply in your workplace.
  1. Hear from leading culture and DEI professionals – This year’s event will feature leading Culture and DEI professionals from a cross-section of sectors, including Claude Sliver, Chief Heart Officer of VaynerMedia, Danny Guillory, Chief People Officer at Glassdoor, and Dr. Jenny Woo, Founder of Mind Brain Emotion. New speakers will be announced shortly! View a sneak peek at our lineup here.
  1. Build your Brand: If you’re interested in sharing your experiences with 15,267 culture champions or building your company’s presence among this audience. Attendance is a must!

Register before June 1st, 2023 and get over 25% off in-person and streaming attendee tickets. REGISTER TODAY! 

 PS: If you’re interested in getting your company in front of 15,267 culture champions, Apply to be a sponsor today.

Turning Insights Into Action: What One Culture Advocate Learned From Culture Summit

Alicia Case began her advertising career as a copywriter on the client-facing creative side, working on branding, ad concepts and creative for large health and wellness brands including Procter & Gamble Global Oral Care and Pfizer Women’s Health. Over time, it became more and more clear that she wanted to help spread her team’s thriving team culture to the rest of the organization.

Case began to wonder, “How do we establish an ownable, differentiating culture across our the entire organization that makes people want to stay working here and attract outsiders to come here?”

With that question, Case cultivated a cultural overhaul to the entire agency setting the path directed to an employee-facing role that now made her “client” the agency she worked for. After more than a year of developing this robust culture program and showing positive results from annual surveys and increased employee satisfaction, Case proposed a new role and officially shifted her career path. She moved from the creative side to a role focused on a wider set of employee culture variables including internal communications, social media, events, recruiting, reward and recognition opportunities, and more.

Throughout all this change and growth, Case has used her background in creative advertising to think about building culture the same way you would build a good brand, and attending Culture Summit for the past two years has been an important milestone in Case’s development as a culture and employee experience professional. Each year has featured keynotes, speakers, and presentations that helped her shape her understanding of culture and build an intentional employee experience at Publicis Health.

“Our agencies want to emulate many of the characteristics of Facebook, Amazon, Google, LinkedIn, Spotify, etc.,” says Case. “And for me, it’s important to not just understand what they do outside of their organizations but also on the inside.”

“What are they doing to create cultures and employee experiences that get their people to put out the caliber of work that we admire and recognize as best in class?” Case continues. “How are they building an employee experience that’s directly linked to the company ROI? That’s why it’s imperative to attend conferences like Culture Summit because you get to go under the hood of companies you may not otherwise get to hear from.”

Here are some of the most important Culture Summit takeaways she’s collected over the years:

Turning Insights Into Action: What One Culture Advocate Learned From Culture SummitPhoto Credit: Cathryn Lynne Photo

1. Culture is a combination of micro and macro experiences

From the application and interview process to onboarding, training, and working on day-to-day tasks, the employee experience is made up of a number of different large and small employee experiences. When you look at how your organization builds its culture, consider high-level macro, big things you do that affect the entire organization as well as the small micro-level individualized factors. Which brings us to the first point Case would like to emphasize: culture is not some distant concept developed by the higher-ups like a product to be passed down. It’s every single micro and macro interaction a company has with its employees…

  • It’s our competitive advantage for recruitment and retention
  • It’s why we want to work here and also stay working here
  • It’s what can drive engagement, which increases output and makes our clients happier as a result because more engaged people means a higher quality of work, which means happier clients, which means more money back into the business

Micro experiences look at what individual things are happening at a granular level for each employee, like learning and development, career mobility and development, rewards and recognition, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and thought leadership opportunities. Macro experiences include the things that impact every single employee at large, like the company mission, brand values, processes, benefits, physical space, technology and tools, communications, etc. A successful culture will intentionally establish and adjust both macro and micro experiences to the needs of its people. A culture that can be responsive to its people’s needs will thrive.

Key Takeaway: Give more personalized gifts instead of giving everyone the same gift card or spot bonus. If you know a team member loves music or they’re a foodie, why not give them a pair of concert tickets or a dinner at a Michelin Star rated restaurant? Those small details make the person feel like the organization “gets” them. It’s building on a total rewards philosophy and moving away from the thinking the same things work for everyone.

Turning Insights Into Action: What One Culture Advocate Learned From Culture Summit

Case (center) speaking on the “Power of Business Resource Groups” panel at Saatchi & Saatchi. Image Source: Kipp Jarecke-Cheng

 

2. If you want to emulate the pros, learn from them

According to Case, one of the best parts of the Culture Summit was learning from relevant, best-in-class brands like Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn. Many legacy companies that have been around for decades or over a century are looking to change their business models to meet today’s business demands, many of which are being driven by these tech titans. These company’s outputs are a reflection of what’s happening inside and the culture and talent that’s there, it offers a great learning opportunity for brands that want to achieve that kind of success on their own. Or a minimum, understand how they’ve created a culture that is writing the playbook on today vs chasing to keep up.

“One of the most memorable panels was one about diversity and inclusion, but how Airbnb put the emphasis on belonging versus inclusion was the real differentiator,” says Case. “When you’re a visitor staying in a host’s home on Airbnb, you want to feel like you belong there. It’s totally different from a hotel. Staying in someone’s home you truly need to create a sense of belonging. That the people hosting want you there, they make you feel at home, they make you feel comfortable with the city you’re visiting, you feel like a local vs just a tourist.”

“That’s what Airbnb wants to create and to bring this same notion of belonging into how they view inclusion feels so on brand,” continues Case. “They want people to feel like they are truly at home at Airbnb and are connected and really part of the neighborhood. I loved how that nuance came to life not just in what they are doing externally, but internally as well.”

Key Takeaway: So many companies get lost in thinking about what they want to be versus analyzing what they fundamentally already are. Case noted that the Facebook speakers have made excellent points that when you choose a value, you have to think about what you also give up since a value comes at a cost. If you value one thing, there’s something that you don’t value because it’s not possible to value everything: You can’t say you’re funny but also be serious. You can’t say you’re type-A but also be OK with failure. They aren’t mutually exclusive.  

Turning Insights Into Action: What One Culture Advocate Learned From Culture Summit

Case (far right) attending the Out & Equal Workplace Summit in Philadelphia with the LGBTQ business resource group she co-chairs. Photo Credit: Kipp Jarecke-Cheng

 

3. Culture needs to be original – not duplicated and not lip service

Another important speaker takeaway for Case was that you can’t say you believe in diversity and inclusion and not have your staff speak truth on its own or not have programs and initiatives that actually help move the needle. The speakers really modeled what they preached and didn’t just make it words. Speakers don’t just tell you they believe in something, they show you how the brand puts those values into practice.

One way Case’s company is following through on this takeaway is to adopt a philosophy to only use real photos from real events – not stock photos or pure type that anyone could use – for the work that their communications department creates. They know it’s important to show their people volunteering their time painting local high schools, dancing in drag pageants, speaking on panels, or leading a workshop to reinforce who we are and what we stand for.

Amir Diwane performing as Addy Rall in the Publicis Égalité Employee Charity Drag Pageant that Case organizes each year for PRIDE. Photo Credit: Kipp Jarecke-Cheng

Here are a few examples of year-round or ongoing culture initiatives at Publicis:

  • To improve presentation skills, one of the agencies selected employees for an offsite “Art of Improv” training. Employees were invited to an offsite event space with stimulating art and colors for a sensory experience in which they worked with an improv company to learn how to think on their feet and be able to change directions quickly if something happens in a presentation.

Agency members participate in an interaction workshop to learn improv techniques that they can apply to their presentation skills. Photo Credit: Alicia Case

  • When a team came back from SXSW, they put on a pop-up experience for those in the office who couldn’t attend. To mimic almost frenetic energy of SXSW, attendees needed to make decisions about which sessions to attend happening simultaneously. Additionally, large-scale keynotes were being held in large cafe space while other speakers were presenting in the other conference rooms. At the close of the learning session, there was had a big party with food trucks and a live band to create the same experience as if everyone had been able to head down to Austin, TX.

Agency attendees sit in the cafe and listen to the live band during the SXSW-inspired pop up. Photo Credit: Alicia Case

  • For Women’s History Month, employees were asked to nominate a woman in the organization who they thought rocked through Publicis Health’s #WMNLDRSRCK campaign. Nominated women from across the organization were featured on social channels, creating a positive social media footprint with just a bit of coordination and branding work.

Case featured in the WMNLDRSRCK campaign. Photo Credit: Kipp Jarecke-Cheng

Key Takeaway: If you’re doing it right, your company culture will not look like any other company’s culture. Your values, events, and initiatives will be unique and customized to the people who work there. Anything less runs the risk of feeling like lip service to employees who are hungry for a unique company culture that represents who they really are and what they really do.  

How could Culture Summit inspire you to influence your company culture and be an agent for change? Find out by attending this year!

The Evolution of Culture at Culture Summit

For the past decade, company culture has grown into a bonafide hot topic in the HR and recruitment world. Now in the 4th year of its running, Culture Summit is in a unique position to see how the industry has grown and changed, and even to reflect some of those changes in how the conference is run, who is attending, and who is speaking.

Today, we caught up with Jully Kim, who has attended every Culture Summit since its inception and Senior Manager, Program Management Office at BigCommerce to hear how the conference – and company culture – has evolved over the past 3 years.

The Evolution of Culture at Culture Summit

Image Source: LinkedIn

1. Why did you want to attend a conference around the topic of culture, and what jumped out about Culture Summit that made you choose this one?

As a Sr. Manager of PMO, I manage other project and program managers across multiple offices. The culture of the workplace heavily influences my ability and my team’s ability to execute – if the culture is terrible, I’m limited in my role. If it’s awesome, not only can I do my job, but I can do more and grow my role and my people.

Culture is such an important part of the way I think about work that I just can’t separate the two. Of course, there’s the responsibilities and skills I need to get projects over the finish line, but I can’t do those things to the best of my ability in a vacuum at my desk. The nature of work is that I work with people, and people determine the culture I work in, and the culture decides how well I can execute those responsibilities.

In my sphere of influence, there wasn’t an active conversation around company culture. My colleagues and I knew culture is important – we complain about it, praise it, or envy it from afar – but there wasn’t a structured conversation around what it was.

I chose Culture Summit because it was the only conference around that actually addressed the topic – the only one! I didn’t know what to expect, but I was hoping to find others I could start a conversation with about how this is an important topic. I knew culture was important and I needed to find others who thought it was important so I could equip myself to be a better culture agent at work… and I did!

The Evolution of Culture at Culture Summit

Image Source: BigCommerce

2. What’s changed the most about the conference speakers?

The nature of the first two Culture Summit conferences was very much around executives who were embarking on culture initiatives. At the time, those were probably the only people who could speak out about how important culture was – the executives, CEOs, and authors who were starting or leading a new company and rolling out a culture program. It was really valuable insight from trailblazers like Google, Culture Amp, Facebook, and Airbnb who could validate that this is important and something worth pursuing.

Over time, the caliber of the speakers hasn’t changed, but the nature of their jobs and closeness to lower-level employees has bridged the gap. Particularly last year’s conference, there were great keynotes as well as less well-known companies who were doing awesome things in employee mentoring, engineering recruiting, and diversity and inclusion. There was a lot of varied experience that felt more tangible, and I walked away with action instead of admiring someone else’s culture.

As more and more people become interested and aware of the fact that culture is valuable part of how we think about work, the natural next step is to ask, “Well, what can I do about it?” So when we hear from middle managers and directors at that in-between, tactical layer, we get a better picture of the next step we can take when we get back to work. It’s less about hearing how awesome other companies are and more about learning what we can do in our spheres of influence.

 

3. What’s changed the most about the conference attendees?

Originally I felt like the nature of the people I met were people like me who weren’t sure about culture but wanted to know more – engineering managers, consultants, product marketing, and marketing folks. I hardly met any HR people… and then last year’s conference was almost exclusively HR and recruiting people!

Companies are recognizing that the way we recruit, hire, promote, and live out corporate values is linked to HR and HR is becoming much more influential in determining culture. It’s not about listing the corporate values on your website and hanging posters in the office. It’s about how we experience things like onboarding and offboarding, and how we celebrate or manage performance, and all many of these things come back to HR.

In one way, it’s good that so many HR people are paying attention to this important issue, but I worry that assigning culture as a “task” to a department isn’t a good idea. Once it becomes someone else’s job, it’s not your job anymore. It’s no longer the responsibility of the whole company but rather a program or a thing HR “does.”

The Evolution of Culture at Culture Summit

Image Source: BigCommerce

4. In general, how have you been able to apply what you’ve learned at Culture Summit?

The thing I came away with is that I need to be a culture champion at work. In the past, I’ve felt like my network has talked about culture but felt more or less powerless to do anything about it. But hearing so many experts talk about the importance of workplace culture and give practical tips gave me a lot more courage to talk about areas I felt weren’t working with our culture and celebrate the ones that were. I felt like, “No, we’re not powerless, and we have a voice to embody change and can push for things we think are valuable rather than just admiring the problem together!”

In fact, every year I feel like there’s some issue I’m addressing or something I’m fighting for that feels hard and Culture Summit ends up being right around the corner right when I need it. It connects me with people who encourage me and keep me focused right when I’m feeling deflated – it’s my yearly recharge of being around other people who get it and come back to work with a sense of the particular action I can take right away.

Most importantly, I feel like Culture Summit provides a vision for what’s needed in the workplace. So often we know something needs to be better, but we don’t know what better is until we see other companies and individuals pushing for that vision. It shows me what’s possible and clarifies what I’m actually pushing towards.

Are you ready for your yearly recharge? Don’t miss the Culture Summit in San Francisco this year!

How to Keep Gen X-Ers and Baby Boomers Engaged at Work

We all know that Millennials have surpassed Gen Xers as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, so it makes sense that they’re getting a lot of attention in the press, on social media networks, and on the SHRM blog. But as companies compete to find and hire the most talented of this age group, it’s only natural that more senior employees – the Gen Xers and the Baby Boomers – start to wonder if their work matters anymore.

Earlier this year we discussed how to help legacy employees stay engaged when the legacy culture gets an upgrade. Today, we’re going to look at what you can do to make sure those employees know that there’s still a place in your company for their hard-won experience and expertise.

There’s one caveat worth mentioning, though: while generational stereotypes can offer insight into larger trends, there’s no one-size-fits-all label that perfectly captures every team member on your roster. There are only larger trends that can inform your approach to human resources management and give you a starting point for conversations around employee engagement.

To help facilitate those conversations – and identify those larger trends – we got in touch with Austyn Rask, Research Analyst and Consultant with the generational consulting experts at BridgeWorks. Here’s what she as to say about keeping Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers engaged at work:


Why are Gen X and Baby Boomer employees valuable assets in the workplace?

Like every diverse segment of the population within an organization, Gen X and Boomer employees have unique experiences and traits to offer. The disciplined Boomers wield a fiercely competitive yet optimistic spirit, while the independent, resourceful Xers have mastered a special balance between analog and digital.

An organization is at its strongest when multiple generations can work together and complement each others’ strengths, but this isn’t possible if a company focuses on a single generation – cough, Millennials, cough – and ignores the others.


In what ways can employers balance efforts to attract Millennial talent with efforts to avoid alienating Gen X and Boomer talent?

It all begins with generational awareness, which impacts everything from benefits to engagement—from hiring to retention. Having a perspective on who generations are and how they impact the workplace is essential. Leaders must also make it a priority to keep an open line of communication with seasoned employees. Don’t let yourself get too sucked into the Millennial hype, because there will always be a new generation entering the workforce and bringing change and hype with them, as well.

(Something we’re seeing now with Gen Edge!)


What are some of the unique needs and interests of Gen X and Baby Boomer employees in the workforce?

Here’s a brief summary of Boomers’ and Xers’ needs and interests, and more can be found in the infographics below:

Gen X employees…

  • Value honest, transparent leaders and coworkers
  • Are best motivated through flexibility and time to invest in their personal lives (Basically, time at work = time away from the fam)
  • Desire freedom to exercise independence at work amidst the inevitable team meetings and brainstorm sessions
  • May or may not still enjoy The Goonies and Donkey Kong!

BridgeWorks-GenXTraits

Gen X infographic courtesy of BridgeWorks

Baby Boomer employees…

  • Tend to prefer face-to-face communication (a notable source of tension between Baby Boomers and Millennials)
  • Value networking and building a professional community
  • Appreciate it when their contributions are publicly honored (your motivational secret sauce with Baby Boomer employees)
  • Often enjoy being on the cutting edge of technology to “keep up with the Joneses”

Bridgeworks-BabyBoomerTraits

Baby Boomer infographic courtesy of BridgeWorks


What else should HR directors know about keeping these generations of employees engaged?

With four generations working side-by-side in the workforce, seeking generational understanding is key to developing a team that capitalizes on each other’s unique strengths and experiences rather than perpetuating negative stereotypes.

With 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 every day – a trend that will continue for another 11 years – these employees are walking out the door with decades of experience and industry knowledge. Establishing constructive cross-generational relationships and keeping seasoned employees engaged is essential to not losing their wisdom and years of hard work.

Thank you, Austyn! And if the topic of age and generational values in the workplace fascinates you, don’t miss these articles for further reading: