Hello, my name is Dr. Kevin Sansberry. I am a behavioral scientist and lead consultant with the Workforce Innovation Center.

Earlier this month, I had the privilege to share the virtual stage with leaders from a variety of backgrounds for Gilman Partners‘ 7 Strategies to attract, retain and engage talent in 2022.

It is important that organizations take alternative, people-centered approaches to truly engage and retain talent as they work towards creating an inclusive and equitable workplace culture. Let’s examine the current state to see why this matters more than ever.

 

Current State

A record number of 4.53 million Americans have quit their jobs.

I consult with various industries, including professional sports, Silicon Valley tech, education, and social sector non-profit, and one aspect I am noticing is that organizations are looking for innovative ways to attract, develop, and retain their staff.

With the ongoing rise of the gig economy and the increased adoption of remote-enabled work, markets are becoming more competitive than ever before, especially as organizations on the coasts are opting to pay higher than average salaries while allowing employees choice related to where they live.

One thing that leaders everywhere need to realize is that the pandemic has created differential adaptations for ALL generations in the workplace. This is not simply a millennial or Gen Z characteristic.

There has been recent news over the last couple of months discussing the negative impact of toxic organizational culture and how it is driving resignations across the country. I am also the host of the toxic leadership podcast and to my surprise, we reached number four on Apple Podcasts within the first month of launching last spring. Through this platform, I’ve been able to peek behind the curtain of many industries and organizational cultures and climates.

What I am seeing is that with the increased amount of choice and flexibility, employees no longer have to endure suboptimal organizational cultures.

This is your time to be proactive about your commitment to equity and inclusion in your organizational culture. You must actively cultivate your collective.

 

Cultivating Your Collective

There is a difference between a group and a collective. As I think about this difference, I’m not really focused on the semantics or etymology, the difference is more felt. One memory from childhood stands out that illustrates this notion. From around four years-old to high school, I grew up in full French immersion, meaning my schooling as a child was in a language other than my mother tongue. As a result, many of my teachers were from countries like Senegal and Cameroon.

The first thing that I took away from this experience was the importance of diversity and inclusion as it relates to retention and wellbeing. Having teachers from many different parts of the world converge to provide a welcoming environment of support continues to shape my worldview.

This is reflective of the essential role of leadership, especially during times of volatility and ambiguity. It is important for leaders to jump out of auto pilot and create structures of leadership accountability. Your leadership team should create strategies that directly focus on what they can do to impact engagement.

Additionally, it is also important to create metrics that focus directly on outcomes, such as cross-departmental collaboration metrics to measures that examine the differential impact of your organizational culture between job levels and demographically through racial and gender groups among others.

From what I experienced, the most impactful way to appreciate diversity and inclusion is to authentically see the diversity and further feel the warmth of inclusion.

 

Key Takeaways

First, think about how tangible your DEI initiatives are as they relate to hiring, retention and engagement. Are you proactive? Are you doing things that are sustainable?

How do you gather feedback related to DEI in your organization? It’s imperative not to wait for people to resign. We should be adopting processes to gather feedback like listening sessions and committing to communicating consistently and with authenticity.

The second aspect that sticks out is the concept of Ubuntu. Ubuntu is an eternal African philosophy of ‘Oneness’. What I internalized at such a young age was despite the structures, mental models, and systems that exist to separate us, we are all connected.

How are you perpetuating connectedness and oneness as an organization? I am not asking for conformity, what I am asking for is belonging.

As we reflect on the great resignation, not all companies are experiencing the same levels of turnover. The ones that are having the most trouble had toxic or transactional cultures well before the current state. The pandemic just exacerbated what was already in place.

The thing about Ubuntu that is important is that we must play an active part of building oneness – you must actively cultivate your collective.

 

Solution

As my experience and research into organizational behavior and DEI matured, I saw very clearly the connection of culture to overall organizational results.

As a lead consultant with the Workforce Innovation Center, I am inspired to be able to partner with organizations where we embody the concept of Ubuntu firsthand.

The impact of bridging the voices of staff throughout the organization regardless of title is essential. Furthermore, creating governance systems is important as organizations seek to sustain their efforts authentically.

Over the last couple months, I had the privilege to partner with organizations in interactive forums where they presented various business cases ranging from hiring to retention. The intentionality manifested as we worked with organizations to ensure that diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and economic mobility were at the root of all planning efforts.

 

Call to Action

Leveraging the power of difference towards belonging is what separates a group of individuals and rallies them around something greater. As organizations that strive to supercharge their culture, it’s important to be proactive.

Take a moment to reflect for a second: Are you in a state of frenzy? Feeling like you are putting out fire after fire?

I recognize that we cannot solve everything at once. What is one thing you can focus on related to your organizational culture? Think about the impact of equity and inclusion.

As you continue to forge your path and create equitable and inclusive cultures remember, you must actively cultivate your collective.

Contact us at the Workforce Innovation Center – we can help.

 


 

About the Author:

Kevin Sansberry

Dr. Kevin Sansberry, MBA, SPHR
Founder | KEVRA – The Culture Company

Dr. Kevin Sansberry II is a behavioral scientist and executive coach whose inspiring work is driven by the need for evidence-based, inclusive, and equitable approaches to urgently and proactively transform and coach leaders, eradicating toxic behaviors that threaten profitability, innovation, and the overall wellbeing. Kevin is regularly sought after to speak, consult, and coach organizations around the world related to his expertise in toxic leadership, human capital strategy, and creating inclusive cultures of belonging to enhance organization performance, centered on employee wellbeing.

Kevin has experience in various settings such as professional sports including the MLB, higher education, nonprofits, sales, and other large complex organizations. He is also the founder of KEVRA Consulting, a firm that utilized research-based solutions to address organizational challenges such as inclusion, equity, and belonging, HR strategy, leadership coaching, and development.

Kevin earned his doctorate in business administration from The University of Missouri-St. Louis where he focused on the impact of abusive supervision on organizational culture/climate, and employee coping behaviors. Kevin received his MBA from The University of Missouri-Kansas City with an emphasis in leadership & change in human systems and general management and his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Central Missouri.