Happy birthday to us! Yep, that's right, CoCulture has made it another year. This past year, it's a big one to celebrate. With the pandemic, this will be a year unlike any other and to say we made it another year amidst COVID is something to brag about. So, what have we learned over the last year?

COMPANIES NEED MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES - As you've probably seen in our posts before, mental health was already a growing concern. With suicide rates increasing, pharmaceuticals reaching all-time highs, depression and anxiety diagnosis skyrocketing, and then add on a global pandemic?! It's no wonder why the number one concern for organizational culture and wellbeing is in this area. Companies already weren't doing much outside of an EAP offering and at national usage rate percentages for an EAP not even getting to 10%, that just isn't cutting it.

What to do then? We need to invest into leaders to be equipped and competent for recognizing trauma. We need to have more time to focus on mindfulness within our work day. We should treat mental health the same way we treat physical health - having regular check ups and company initiatives supporting it. We need to recognize and invest into remote relationships as the workforce will change quicker than it ever has before. These are just a few, but are all sorely needed.

INVEST INTO LEADERSHIP EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE - Look, I get it. Finding good, quality leaders is tough. Most of the time we see someone doing a great job and think "they are a high performer - let's give them a promotion!" and it makes sense, right? They want to be a manager (or the title at least) and progress through their career. What is hurtful to see is companies promoting someone then throwing them into the deep end. It's almost laughable to see gigantic companies STILL not investing into leadership and what it takes to be a leader. The most consistent indicator of a successful leader is emotional intelligence (90% of all high performing leaders have high EI).

Why is it that something that has one of the highest correlations we know of for successful leaders, the individuals who make or break a company, is not being taught, learned, or discussed in organizations? So many people call these "soft skills" whereas we see them as necessary skills. If you aren't investing into leadership from an EI perspective, you need to. Your company and your upcoming talent depend on it.

TECHNOLOGY NEEDS TO BE A PART OF YOUR PLAN - I will admit, for years and even when starting this company, I wasn't the biggest fan of using technology. While I'm technically a millenial, that is very anti-millenial of me. The reason before hand was that in an organization, relationships reign supreme for retaining top talent and fostering a flourishing culture. I can admit, after a pandemic, I was wrong to think technology couldn't be used as effectively as it actually can be.

Right now online conversations, challenges, and making fun of the dog in the background of zoom calls has become the norm. While we are still experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety (often associated with increased time online), technology has in some respects been a lifesaver when used correctly. Now, I say this, but I need companies to hear me loud and clear on this next point: Stop overloading people with Zoom meetings. The case of the "zoomies" is real, and unfortunately I've spoken to too many employees who feel that since they are at home, companies overloaded them with work all the while increasing meetings since it's "efficient". While we will still need these tools to get work done, organizations need to have a "Tech plan" for balance. We can still do zoom calls for work, but let's also have virtual escape rooms and scavenger hunts with our teams and invest into a wellbeing platform.

HOLISTIC WELLBEING SHOWS WHY THE OLD WAY WASN'T WORKING - As we've said over and over and over (seriously, it's a lot) focusing on the wellbeing of your employees can't be one dimensional. To think we are as simple of people where we only need a step challenge for the year to feel good about working at an organization is laughable. If you're one of those people, email me now...we've got to chat! Otherwise, leaders need to really hone-in on focusing on the entire person and what they need. Our lives have gone from working from home to living at work and that needs to change. Let's focus on what the individual needs and that starts and ends with managers being enabled to have those conversations with their employees.

Saving the best for last (since you read all the way here!)...

THESE FEW YEARS COUNT MORE THAN EVER FOR YOUR CULTURE - During a time where our backs are pressed up against a wall, our true colors come out. How is your company responding to the pandemic? Realize that we're not saying things may or may not need to be shuffled to stay afloat, but I'd challenge leaders on what actually needs to be completely removed. I've seen plenty of initiatives, wellbeing plans, trainings, and support being taken away from the organizational plan since the pandemic. Let me be clear here, if you stop investing into your employees when they need it the most, they will reciprocate. Maybe not immediately but mark my words trust will need to be mended.

The reason for this is so many companies have this old style of thinking "oh, well our wellbeing bucket for the budget needs to be trimmed. Let's take that out but keep the bucket for company acquisitions" and while that may or may not pan out from a long-term investment, your employees are a known investment. You need to continue to pour into them. I'm not saying you'll keep every employee you have throughout this either, but you'll keep the ones you want to because they see you care about them. Employees have and always will seek out these two things no matter what organization they work for: To feel KNOWN and to feel NEEDED. If you're not providing that, they'll be out the door and over at your competitor.

Culture right now is actually at a high point for organizations. This is the stress test not many companies have endured before and it'll show who invested into their people up front. The best time to invest in your employees was yesterday, the second best time is today. As we celebrate our company birthday, we want to encourage you that you can do it. If you'd appreciate someone coming alongside you, we're here to help. Otherwise, keep at it. We want each of you to succeed and have a thriving workplace.