In this episode, as we begin a new year, we take a moment to look back at 2022. What were the biggest takeaways in the realm of company culture and employee engagement?
We also look forward, analyzing and predicting how to best approach ongoing employee engagement trends that you may see pop up around your company campfire in 2023.
Helping me break it all down are amazing members of the Up Your Culture team, Engagement Specialists: Deborah Fulghum, Mindy Murphy, Kate Rehling, and Kelly George.
Together, they make so many fantastic points, such as:
About Up Your Culture:
Up Your Culture, an employee engagement and company culture firm, was designed by The Center for Sales Strategy which has almost 40 years of experience improving business performance.
ENGAGE 2022: The Company Culture Report:
Up Your Culture:
(03:27) Biggest company culture and employee engagement takeaways from 2022
(09:55) Ways that leaders can foster the culture that they want to see in hybrid and remote environments
(16:08) Advice for organizations who are focused on attracting top talent and being successful with recruitment in 2023
(20:58) How to provide the feedback and growth opportunities that employees are craving throughout the year
Beth Sunshine: (00:15)
Hello and welcome to Culture Over Coffee, a podcast focused on improving company culture and fostering employee engagement. Every week we chat with experts and thought leaders about the latest information and proven practices you can use to reduce regrettable turnover, increase productivity on your team, and retain key customers. So, pour a cup of your favorite brew and join us. I'm your host, Beth Sunshine, SVP at Up Your Culture in the Center for Sales Strategy.
Beth Sunshine: (00:50)
In this episode, as we begin a new year, we take a moment to look back at 2022. What were the biggest takeaways in the realm of company culture and employee engagement? We also look forward analyzing and predicting how to best approach ongoing employee engagement trends that you may see pop up around your company Campfire in 2023. Helping me Break It All Down, are amazing members of the Up Your Culture team. We've got engagement specialists, Deborah Fulghum, Mindy Murphy, Kate Rehling, and Kelly George. Together, they make so many fantastic points, such as when leaders put people first, businesses really start to grow. How building trust through integrity, bolsters engagement in hybrid and remote environments, why retention is still your best recruitment strategy. And lastly, how developing your employees begins with hiring the right people.
Beth Sunshine: (01:51)
I am so excited to welcome our team of Up Your Culture Engagement Specialists to the podcast today. Thank you all for joining me. I'm gonna have some culture over coffee today. As you know, we dedicated this first season of Culture Over Coffee to exploring the four engagement elevators. Nobody knows those elevators better than you. We've been talking to business leaders experts about how they are using those four engagement elevators to up their culture to increase or elevate engagement. It's been really enlightening. We've heard a variety of perspectives and we've heard a lot about, and learned a lot about what they're experiencing just day to day. So I'm especially excited now that we've done all of that. To cap off the season with you, I can't think of a, a better way than to gather our whole team of experts together and reflect back on your biggest takeaways from 2022, and also look ahead to what we expect might be trends or happenings in 2023. And I mean, you guys have been in the thick of it. You have such a valuable perspective. Um, I prepared a handful of questions. I'm really, really excited to ask them. So I say, let's get started. What do you think?
Deborah Fulghum: (03:03)
Beth Sunshine: (03:05)
Yeah. All right. Well, I'm gonna start with you, Deb. Okay. Looking back at the landscape of company culture, just thinking over the past year and considering what we learned in the engaged 2022 culture report, which I know you're familiar with, but also just your hands-on experience with clients mm-hmm. , what would you say are some of the biggest takeaways that stand out to
Deborah Fulghum: (03:25)
You? Yeah. Um, that's a great question. I, I'd say that one of the things that our whole team learned this year is how important people are to the success of a company. Um, we knew that communicating that to other people and to the clients we work with really stood out to me this year. Um, you know, they, so many companies go into a year thinking, here's our budget. Here's what we need to do. Let's drive people instead of let's put people first. Get them involved, get them interested in our vision, get them to buy into the vision and what part they're gonna play into it, and then we'll have some success. So, we've seen a little flip of how companies are approaching culture and their people. Um, we've worked with a bunch of clients this year who really had that people first mindset, and because they changed that narrative, and a few of the leaders were very much business and numbers, but when they went that direction, we saw a big change in their market.
Deborah Fulghum: (04:23)
We saw a big change with their people. We saw engagement numbers rise in their markets, and we know that when people, and when leaders put people first, business starts to grow. Yeah. Um, we've also found, and chime in here, um, with your thoughts on this, but we found that more companies are putting a line item of culture in their budgets this year. Um, it's more important than just saying, oh, we need to work on culture. It's a side thing, a side hustle we'll work on. It's more of we need to take this seriously and have a group that's responsible and accountable to this. So we are finding that when leaders have expectations of each other on culture, then engagement really improves. It becomes front and center. And I'd I'd say with the economic conditions the way they are right now, and teams running leaner than they ever have or they have in a few years, you know, keeping employees engaged is more important now than ever.
Deborah Fulghum: (05:18)
So, um, you know, a few standouts, and I'm just gonna name a couple, so if you guys have anything else, please throw this out there. But, you know, when we look at employee engagements, um, statements and things that really stand out, one thing is that people wanna have a vision that motivates them. We've found that across so many markets. So it's not just we've communicated a vision, but how does it motivate employees? What part do they play in that? You know, Beth has a great, um, visual of this, of, you know, stoking a company fire, and if you're motivated by a company vision, then you wanna be putting those logs on the fire. You wanna wanna be part of that. You wanna watch it grow and flourish. And if you're not, you're just sitting there watching the fire or you're putting it out, and if you feel like you're part of a vision, then you're creating that spark to keep it going.
Deborah Fulghum: (06:12)
Um, another thing that we found, and I I find this to be so true, is we've helped so many companies explore and create their core values. And those core values really express how a company achieves success. And we've talked about our, our core values many times of quality, responsiveness, and integrity. Um, you know, every decision we make internally and externally really revolves around those three words. And our leaders all live by those. They demonstrate those for us every day. And one of the things that stood out to me in the engaged 2022 report was that only 57% of those surveyed could, they weren't sure if they had a set of four values. Right. Wasn't that astounding out
Beth Sunshine: (06:53)
To me too? Yeah. That was shocking. What the
Deborah Fulghum: (06:56)
Heck? Um, or they couldn't even recite them. They didn't know what they were. And I find that really sad. And the clients that we've worked with this year that are really, really dedicated to their culture and the engagement of their people, take those words seriously. Mm-hmm. , they hire by them, they, um, share. And when people are living by those, they recognize them, they make decisions, how does this align to our core values? And that's so important. And that's, that's gonna be a part of the narrative moving forward as well. Mm. And one other thing that we found was that, and I, I think this goes to all of us as well, that development is such a big deal to people. They don't just wanna sit in the role and do a job, show up nine to five, they wanna grow. And how do we find that out?
Deborah Fulghum: (07:41)
We need to ask, right? Right. We need to sit down with people, uncover what their goals are, how we can contribute to those goals, how we can map out plans for their, their growth goals. How can we be a part of that? And I think that's such an important thing. Um, and lastly, I'll add that we have taught so many people how important the platinum rule is not the golden rule of treating people how you wanna be treated, which is so easy for leaders to do well, this is what I would want. And I think for engagement to really work, people need to uncover what others and how others wanna be treated. You know, everybody wants to feel important in that they're your favorite. So how do you uncover that? We need to uncover what people want from us. The best way to do that is to ask and listen.
Beth Sunshine: (08:30)
Hmm. Those are great takeaways. I truly think we could probably do a podcast on each one of those things, because they're all so very important to success. And these are things that you saw with clients. I just wanted to touch real fast on one thing you said with, um, building culture in as a line item. I'm hearing that too. So I'm glad you brought that up. And I had a conversation yesterday with someone about this very thing, and we were, were talking about how this could be added not only in a normal, where we'd normally think of it related to HR and culture mm-hmm. and, and that kind of, um, line item. But also it could fall under marketing with employer branding. Right. And all that you can do when you build a strong culture to attract new people. It could go under talent acquisition.
Beth Sunshine: (09:17)
There's so many places that this belongs. So I'm glad you brought that up. I think that's, that's a takeaway that really stuck out to me from your takeaways. Okay. Yeah. So thank you for sharing and, uh, I'm excited to delve into those, maybe even in future seasons, a bit more, Mindy, coming to you. I wanna talk about the hybrid work model, because that was a hot topic in 2022, and I think it's clear, at least to me, that many organizations are still figuring it out. They're still adjusting, they're still adapting to this new work environment. So I wanted to ask you, I know you interact with people in this hybrid work model all the time. What are some ways that leaders can foster the culture that they wanna see, even if they're not all in the same office together?
Mindy Murphy: (10:04)
Yeah, so I think we could really talk about this subject for an hour, but, um, I'll share a few thoughts. It's a great topic and, um, hope you, you all can chime in with ideas as well. But for one, I would say, um, working to improve communication. I feel like in hybrid or remote work environments, people can easily feel like good communication is lacking. So it's just more difficult to have great communication when you're not all together all the time. So I would say, um, make sure you're still sharing information and keeping people in the loop, but also asking for feedback from your employees. One of the things that we measure in the culture engagement surveys is do you feel there's open and honest? Two-way communication. Um, so not just sharing information and discussing important changes and telling people, but also getting their feedback, asking for their thoughts, how do they feel about it?
Mindy Murphy: (11:03)
Um, getting their opinions often. So it's a two-way communication thing. And I think too, because everybody's different, asking each employee about their communication style, asking them how they wanna learn about important information and changes, you know, by phone, text, email, video, meeting in person. Do they want the highlights and bullet points or do they wanna have an in-depth conversation and have the opportunity to ask questions? So improving communication. Um, next I would say collaboration and bringing people together is really important and so much more challenging in a hybrid work situation. So giving people opportunities to collaborate and work together on projects and tasks. Um, giving people the opportunity to learn from one another. Uh, when people are in that hybrid work environment, they may feel disconnected from their coworkers easily. So looking for opportunities to schedule time for relationship building, really important. Our team has a book club that, um, we have quarterly meetings and discuss the book that we're reading.
Mindy Murphy: (12:07)
Um, we share and learn from each other. We also have a company book club once a quarter that brings us together. Another great thing you can do to create fun and bring people together is schedule First Friday meetings. We have a culture called the First Friday of every month. And in this meeting we do things like spotlight and employees celebrate work anniversaries, share campfire stories, um, and we also have different teams based on our interests. We meet with these teams every six weeks ago or so. Um, we have a food and wine team, um, a travel team, a Peloton team, a weight loss team. So you can choose the team you wanna join. And this really gives us the opportunity to interact with and learn from coworkers that we might not normally work closely with. So great, great ways to bring people together. Um, another idea, Deb mentioned, creating that vision.
Mindy Murphy: (12:59)
I feel like when you're working in a hybrid situation, um, you know, sharing the company's vision often is really important. So settling on a clear and concise way of describing the vision, communicating it to your teams often, um, and then continuing to reinforce it. It just really reminds people of the destination they're working towards, where they're headed and why, what they're working together to achieve. So I could go on and on, but really I think the best thing that you can do in any work environment to create a great culture is to build trust with your people, um, by operating with integrity. So always doing what you say you're gonna do. Um, not making promises you can't keep. And really giving people ownership over their work. Ownership, over solving problems, dealing with issues and, and making decisions and being really transparent about mistakes you've made in the past and how you overcame them and challenges youth based. So that's what I would say. Communication, collaboration, bringing people together, the vision and building trust.
Beth Sunshine: (14:03)
I love that. I think, I don't know, you mentioned if anyone had anything to chime in and, and add it and others may, I'll say, just listening to you say all of that, even though I've experienced much of that myself, hearing it all at once, the way you laid it out, I can see how those things would make someone feel really anchored in, because you talked about the improved collaboration and communication so people feel heard and they feel just aware in the loop. And then you talked about the fun aspect, you know, bringing people together based on shared interests. And that creates such a connection. Even if you're not physically together, boy, if we can like both do a Peloton ride and then share, um, you know, what we did and would we recommend it, or something like that, that that brings people together too. And then I love how you ended just on integrity and trust and how it's probably even more important when you're not physically together to be solid to, to come through for people. So I don't, I I have nothing to add. I just, it was really cool to hear you say that. Anyone else have anything to add?
Deborah Fulghum: (15:07)
I loved all of it. You know, I just think about that one statement that we see on engagement surveys of, I feel part of a team. Hmm. So much of what Mindy did share really went to that sentiment, cuz that's such a big deal right now with the hybrid workplace. I thought it was awesome. I
Beth Sunshine: (15:23)
Agree. I've worked in offices physically, you know, present that don't feel as connected as I believe our team feels today. Working completely virtual, completely remote. So, you know, I, I think those best practices they apply whether you're in the office or even out, but especially important with virtual. Thank you Mindy. All right. Kate, coming to you. A big focus for our company as a whole this year and next is and will be recruitment. It's on the minds of most of our clients. Um, and we have found that it's providing a bit of a challenge for most, which is why we're really ramping up to do as much as we can to help. So I wanna ask you, heading into 2023, what advice would you give to organizations who are really focused on attracting top talent and being successful with recruitment?
Kate Rehling: (16:17)
Yeah, thanks Beth. First, I would really recommend people take the time to evaluate their employer brand. So really from the outside looking in, what's your company's identity? What's your reputation as an employer? And really genuinely ask yourself what are people seeing? I think we can all think of companies that we've come into contact with. We've, we've worked with maybe even places we've visited and we've walked out and thought, wow, that is not a place that I could see myself working for people I could see myself working with. And that's how job candidates are thinking as well. Quality employees really wanna work for quality employers, so how are you putting yourself out there? Really make sure your employer brand is people first, that you're known for those relationships that people coming into contact with you walk away thinking, I would love to do business with, with them again.
Kate Rehling: (17:14)
And I also think letting people know your employee value proposition and making sure candidates can easily access that. And, and by that I mean letting people know what they gain from working for you. And not just the compensation, the traditional benefits package, but really what they can gain from your culture. Make sure your EVP includes your reason for being and your core values, because working for a company with strong values is, is a really big benefit as well. And I would also consider, as you're evaluating your employer brand, are there opportunities that you can bring your current employees into this circle to, um, provide testimonials or share their experience for working for you, because it's really impactful to hear what people are actually experiencing in the workplace. In addition to that, I would also really take a close look at your candidate experience. So Beth, you mentioned recruitment's really hard right now. You've got somebody on the hook, you're bringing them in. Um, I recently saw a study on LinkedIn that said four out of five people believe the experience they have as a candidate is a direct indicator of how much a company values its people. So if you're working hard to bring people in, make sure that you're making a solid first impression. Whether or not you choose to move forward with a candidate. Again, people will, will share their experience with others, and you wanna make sure that it's a positive one that they're sharing.
Kate Rehling: (18:51)
And we've talked a lot about too, that making sure when candidates come in, that culture isn't just something you've talked with them about, it's something that you're, you're physically doing, that you're showing them that they're, they're walking out feeling like, wow, they are authentic. They are doing what they say they do, um, so that you can make sure you're, you are bringing those quality people in. And my last thing about that, Beth, is retention is still your best recruitment strategy. Mm-hmm. . So the most effective way to make sure you're retaining your people is to ensure that you have high levels of engagement on your team.
Beth Sunshine: (19:34)
Boy, that's a really good point. I'm glad you ended there. You were giving so many great pieces of advice for recruitment, but hang on to your top talent and you have to do less of that recruitment, really great way to end. Yeah. Recruitment is, I mean, you can't even open, well, I can't even open an email anymore without seeing something related to recruitment. There are blogs and articles and people are really struggling here. And I think with a slowing economy, it's gonna shake things up even more. Great, great tips. Thank you for sharing. All right, Kelly, we're coming to you. Um, looking at specifically the engaged 2022 culture report, which I know you've seen and you're really familiar with. Um, you know, it's clear that people, employees really want to be developed. They want, they're actively seeking opportunities for development. And actually, that kind of ties into what Kate was just talking about too.
Beth Sunshine: (20:29)
Um, you know, if you are a company that actively develops your people, that's part of your employee value proposition, that someone could come to you and grow, grow as a, a person, grow in their career. Um, that's really important. So we see this all the time, we talk about it all the time. We know it's a big deal. One of the engagement elevators is actually the people development elevator. That's how important development is. So I wanna ask you, how can leaders ensure that they're doing good work here? How can they provide the feedback or the growth opportunities that their employees are really craving and potentially even demanding in this upcoming year?
Kelly George: (21:09)
Mm-hmm. . Well, I I just love that we're covering this today because Thank you, Beth. You're so right. When we think about employer brand, part of that is the promise that employers make to help their people grow and develop. And as Kate w Kate was sharing, everyone can be a brand ambassador for an organization, an employee, a potential hire, a candidate or a customer, a loyal customer. So when we conduct our annual engagement survey, one of the things that we have found is that 15% of people have gone more than a year without receiving any meaningful feedback from our manager. And that is just heartbreaking. It's heartbreaking. And as dad alluded to earlier and shared, you know, we're all human, um, and we all crave feedback. We want to feel seen and heard. We want to feel valued and respected. So when we think about what we can do, you know, an annual performance review really isn't enough.
Kelly George: (22:07)
People need that feedback, and it's part of the commitment we've made to help, um, our, you know, teammates, our employees grow and develop. So giving that immediate and direct feedback is really, really important and has a powerful impact on engagement. So real-time coaching in the moment, sharing with that transparency, um, that we were talking about earlier, what's going well? Where areas where people could have more support and growth. One of the tools that we use that we love is the growth guide conversation. It's a a least annual conversation to understand what is motivating someone, what do they value, how do they want to be rewarded and recognized? Is that in public? Is that more, um, privately or personally? But really some of this also begins with making sure we have the right people in the right roles. So that is one of the reasons we love our suite of talent assessments so that we can look at an individual's strengths and their talents, get a sense of those, have clarity around those, helping the individual to have that as well.
Kelly George: (23:17)
And then making sure that they're in roles that they're well suited for, set up for success from the beginning. And then strengthening and developing them with that constant feedback and that very specific and transparent feedback. And as someone said earlier, I can't remember who it was, that is a two-way conversation, you know, so we have to be intentional about that. We have to set that as a priority. We have to make time for it. Um, but one of the, the other things I think around that feedback is helping people understand. So you're putting the right people in the right roles, you're having that ongoing feedback, but how do you make sure people can have success? And part of that is understanding what success looks like in that role and, and helping people know, you know, if this is, say the game, this is how we play, you know, and, and, and here is what that's going to look like together and, and how we can achieve it.
Kelly George: (24:14)
So I think those are all some of the things that help, but we know how important this is. And again, it goes a long way toward what we've been seeing in, um, the great resignation the past few years, is people want to feel seen, heard and valued. They wanna feel they're important and they wanna have that clarity around what are their strengths, how can they best use them in certain roles? And how are I, how am I doing? You know, and, and how can we have even more success together? So that feedback really directly affects engagement and performance. That's why it's so important.
Beth Sunshine: (24:52)
I love it. I like the way you described it as sort of how to play the game. You know, how the, you know, what you need to know to succeed. And I love that you mentioned that people development really starts with making sure you're hiring the right people, making sure you have those on board that you can develop and really, um, you know, help them flourish. So. That's right. Very cool and a great way, I think, to end our big rock questions in this podcast today. I do want to have you hang on just a few more minutes because I have a couple of lightning round questions, and I think I would be remiss if I didn't get your take on a, a couple of things. So I'm just gonna ask a question and maybe we can just even go in the same order we just went in. I'll toss out a question and then I'd love to hear from you, just a quick response. Um, it could be a word or a sentence, short response on, on what comes to mind first for you. So first, looking ahead to 2023, here we are in January. What trends do you expect we will all see related to culture and engagement? Deb, what do you think might be on the horizon?
Deborah Fulghum: (25:56)
I think putting it in, um, in your plan for the year, it has to be there. Mm-hmm. I think it has to be a priority. It needs to be something. It's, it's really interesting to me. You know, we, we finish, we go through a year with a client and it's not the end, it's the beginning, right? And so many people say, oh, I'm done. Check that box. It is the beginning of your culture journey, and it's something we have to hold ourselves accountable to. I think they need to, conversations need to be in all leadership meetings. What are we doing? We need to hold each other accountable as leaders. I feel that that's a trend and something that's needs to happen moving forward.
Beth Sunshine: (26:34)
I love that. And, and you're exactly right. I shouldn't be commenting on the lightning round, but if you look at, um, companies that have the very best cultures, what did you, you say earlier, a side gig. I think that's how you described it. It can't be a side gig or a hobby. I don't remember what word was said earlier, but I love that it has to be something that is on your agenda, on your calendar, on your plan every day. So no more commenting from me, but that was awesome. on the horizon.
Mindy Murphy: (27:01)
Yeah, I think with just more people understanding the importance of culture, and even if we're not all in the office together, we're still in hybrid situations, I think there's gonna be more of a focus on, um, improving soft skills, like better communication and leadership, which will help build stronger relationships and, um, and really needed for high performance teams.
Beth Sunshine: (27:24)
Mm-hmm. ? I agree. Kate, how about you?
Kate Rehling: (27:29)
Yeah, I think there will be more of a focus on that work-life blend versus work-life balance. So we think of work-life balance is puzzle pieces. One puzzle pieces is work, and then we're balancing that with our home life. But we can no longer do that, particularly in these hybrid and remote environments. So how are we blending the two together and really focusing on when, not just where people are working and how managers can support the wellbeing of their employees in that way.
Beth Sunshine: (27:57)
Great addition. All right. Kelly, landing on you for the end of this lightning round. What do you see?
Kelly George: (28:03)
Piggybacking a bit on what Kate was sharing? I think working well is something we're looking at. We've had a lot of headwinds these past few years, certainly historically going through a global pandemic. Um, I think we're working in different types of environments, hybrid, so just how can we take care of ourselves? How can we help support one another? And, you know, avoiding a lot of burnout that people have been talking about lately. Yeah.
Beth Sunshine: (28:30)
Yeah. Wellness will be key. Awesome. Okay. Last lightning round question. If you had, if you had to narrow it down to one piece of advice that you would give to leaders who want to engage their employees in the new year, who want to make this a front and center priority, what would that one piece of advice be? Deb,
Deborah Fulghum: (28:48)
Make time for your people. Spend time with them. Listen, don't talk. Listen to their goals, their dreams, their aspirations, and how they wanna contribute to your company.
Beth Sunshine: (28:59)
Hmm. Well said. Mindy, how about you
Mindy Murphy: (29:02)
Focus on ongoing education, training, and development for employees? People usually don't wanna stay in a role where they feel stagnant or they've learned all that they need to learn. So create a development plan for each employee that includes, you know, ongoing training and learning development opportunities for them.
Beth Sunshine: (29:20)
Well said Kate.
Kate Rehling: (29:23)
I would say maintain an open door and with that, an open mind. So piggybacking kind of on what Deb said, really being transparent, be open to having those difficult conversations and be open to feedback from your people. Really listen to what they're saying.
Beth Sunshine: (29:39)
I like that. Kelly, how about you?
Kelly George: (29:42)
I'm going back to what I was talking about earlier. Have those development and feedback conversations. They're so important. And the biggest thing is not just having them with your team, but making sure you're taking time to connect to your why as a leader and a manager, and having them for yourself as well, because you're holding that purpose, you're holding that vision for your team.
Beth Sunshine: (30:02)
I love that. I wanna go on all day. I wish we could. Um, but unfortunately our time is up. Uh, we're gonna have to do this again, I think in season two or in a future season. I wanna thank you for spending time with me today, talking a little bit about Culture over coffee. I truly feel so lucky to be able to work with you guys every day. Um, your expertise, your insights, just your passion for what we do, it makes such a big, big difference. And we don't get to gather like this and discuss these things often enough. So thank you. Thank you for all of the great information you've shared, the ideas you've given to our listeners. There's a lot of really valuable stuff in there. I would imagine there will be people listening to this who may have questions or want more.
Beth Sunshine: (30:47)
So for those listening, I'm gonna drop the LinkedIn information for these four engagement specialists in the show notes. So you can connect with them on LinkedIn. Um, you know, reach out to them if you'd like. I'm also going to drop in the link to the Engage 2022 report, which we've, uh, loosely touched on a bit today. You can dive in, get any more additional details there that might interest you. So thank you to my wonderful guests and coworkers for joining me today. And thank you to everyone who is listening. Enjoy your journey to up your culture. Thanks so much for spending time with us on Culture Over Coffee. If you've enjoyed the conversation, be sure to subscribe and join us for every episode. For more helpful information on the topics of company culture and employee engagement, visit us. Set up your culture.com.