Mission-driven. It’s a catchy phrase and we see it on many company websites, painted on walls, and printed on business cards. But what does it mean to truly live your mission-driven culture?
The pandemic has changed us in so many ways. On the personal side, we’ve recognized what things truly matter—time, family, friends, health, mental wellness— and these topics are bubbling to the surface in the business realm.
Employees want more and realize they can have it. Organizations that are holding to rigid schedules and practices are finding employees are moving on to companies that support a healthier balance and who truly value their time inside and outside of the office environment.
Many of us have transitioned to full-time or hybrid remote working environments. This provides many benefits and opportunities to both the employee and the organization, but how is it affecting culture? What can leaders and teams do to ensure the mission, vision, and values of the organizational culture stay strong? What needs to stay? What needs to go?
“Mission-driven means that you live your life (or in the case of a company or organization, you run your business) in pursuit of your purpose.” -Aubrie Fennecken, Chief Alchemist, Opportunity Kitchen
Perfectly stated. It’s approaching every team interaction, business exchange, and partnership with your mission in mind. This may challenge some of you to ask, “What is my mission? Do I truly know it? Do I live it?”
Reviewing why you do what you do every day, the original reason you started, and your continued purpose and desire for the organization is the foundation that everything else is built upon. It’s the start to living your mission-driven culture.
You can often hear our Founder and CEO Brianna McKinney saying, “I want to do great work. To work with great clients, provide jobs to amazing people, and give back to our community.” This is the reason we exist and it is demonstrated in everything we do as an organization. Our teams know and carry this forward into their personal exchanges, workdays, and lives.
It doesn’t mean there won’t be challenges. The pandemic has surely taught us that things can change at the drop of a hat and we have to be in tune with the effects this is having on the business from a human perspective.
Mental health and wellness have impacted many. The CDC published an article, Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideating During the COVID-19 Pandemic, that stated by June of 2020, 40% of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health or substance use. And the CDC reported that from August 2020 to February 2021, there was an increase from 36.4% to 41.5% of adults struggling with anxiety and depressive disorder symptoms.
You can find numerous articles and statistics demonstrating the increase in anxiety and depression around the world. The terms, “burnout, stress, and overwhelm” permeate conversations in the workplace, social media posts, and self-help articles. So what do we as leaders do? How can we help team members know we see them and we care?
Being intentional with pulse surveys, manager one-on-one meetings, and having conversations where you are asking employees how they are feeling is key to living your mission-driven culture.
As an operations executive, many things impact an organization—processes, recruiting, onboarding, training, business development—but one of the most important things on the to-do list is to listen, gather, and then act.
Follow-through. It is one thing to discuss, but the action is what ensures the foundation of your mission-driven culture stays strong. You’ve revived your mission, you listened and gathered from your team members, and now it’s time to put things into motion. This demonstrates to your organization that the company holds true to the statements that are on the website.
Take a moment and outline what key initiatives you can resurrect, what items need to be paused, and what new projects should start to engage or reengage team members in the mission.
At Bloom, we sent out pulse surveys early on in the pandemic to gauge how teams were feeling about coming back into an office environment and needing to wear masks and social distance. It was a unanimous, “no.” We listened and we acted. The decision was made to embark on an 80/20 remote working culture. Employees would work out of their homes and schedule intentional in-person meet-ups as appropriate. Yes, the decision helped us save on office space and other expenditures, but more importantly offered key benefits to our team members and showed them we truly heard them.
You may not be able to act all at once, but put together a plan based on what you are hearing from your teams and show steps toward how you plan to act.
Part of being mission-driven is also looking beyond ourselves and finding ways to give of our time, treasure, and talents. An article published by Talkspace discussed recent studies that showed acts of altruism—which is a selfless act for others— have shown connections to positive physical and mental effects. When we take the focus off of ourselves and focus it on someone else, it can lift our mood, help us feel productive, and gives us a sense of purpose. If your team is feeling especially overwhelmed it could be they need to expend energy on a positive giving back experience.
Research non-profits in your area to see who could use a hand. There are many options for serving in person but also opportunities to help remotely online or via phone calls. One of our clients, Meals on Wheels People, offers a way to connect to the audiences they serve through “Friendly Chats” and “Wellness Checks” which can all be done from the comfort of your home. Ask your employees what they are passionate about, create a list of serving opportunities, and then give them time during the workday to serve. I guarantee you’ll see a positive impact.
One of my favorite phrases from our Founder and CEO is, “Embrace a true sense of ease between work and life.” It’s a picture of how important providing a strong culture of support is for an organization. It’s helping teams flow between work and life with ease. Balance leaves the impression that at some point I’ll lose my grip on either side and one has to give—life or work. But when I can ease between my work and my life schedule I feel supported. I may hit a few bumps along the way, but I’ll never fall. When a leader demonstrates this and it permeates the entire culture, it changes lives.