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Values: More than a poster on Ember's wall


 The workplace experience is being redefined at a rapid rate: how people work, what they do, leader expectations, and job requirements. People are seeking alignment and integration for their personal and professional needs.   

 Many of us are still stumbling our way through a pandemic and the physical and mental health strain associated with it. People are feeling the weight of a fiscal crisis, global conflicts, and wrestling with their role and responsibility for racial and social justices.  The volume, demands, and duration of all this uncertainty are leaving many exhausted, burnt out, and lost in the face of decision making. This is leading organizations, leaders, and individuals to reframe, redevelop and revaluate.   

 According to a recent report* 1/3 of employees in Canada are experiencing burn out or morale issues in their workplaces. It has caused many to question their workplace experience/expectations, rethink their careers, and redefine their personal values.  

Recently, I ventured down a new path as a result of reflecting on and re-examining my values. It was important for me to create something alongside my colleagues that resonated with our own values and put them at the centre of the systems and structures we develop.

The values my organization holds are: care, connection, conscious transformation, growth and evolution.

We often put our values at the centre of our decision making. We continually ask ourselves. How does this service, process, contract, partnership, or client help us move towards our values?”  

Living by and governing these values has created many positives for myself and my colleagues. It has led to an increased sense of camaraderie, communication, and accountability.  I believe it’s important to share that things are not always perfect. You can imagine doing our best to show up authentically, live our values, and be ready to do the work, all while trying to a run a successful business can create its own set of hurdles.  

We are not immune from the complexities and difficulties of running a business. One quick example I can share is when my colleague, Daena and I were working through our yearly budget, we were challenged in one area. Do we use certain funds to enhance our employee benefits package, or hire an additional employee? We both had reasons for our perspective, and they were founded on how we best live our value of Care. Daena highlighted that “an enhanced benefit package would provide additional support to our employees”, while I believed extra staff could prevent workload and capacity challenges. Both were feasible options and centred on Care. We rumbled through diverse perspectives and had hard follow-up conversations.  When we came to a resolution, we were both informed, felt heard, and were united going forward with the decision. 

Current corporate culture is bombarded with “quick fixes,” resulting in life feeling more transactional. Today’s workplace environment is often designed for short, efficient transactions, which can lead to misunderstandings, as well as a lack of alignment and connection amongst people at work. This may further result in unresolved conflict and underlying tension that, when left unattended, can infect the culture. The reality is most of the problems we are facing are not black and white, they are grey, and can feel crunchy, sticky, and messy. Showing up to these problems takes a great deal of awareness, care, and courage to look at, sit with, and reconcile in a productive way.  

 In my experience, many of the frictions at work occur because of leaders and/or employees trying their best to protect themselves and survive in the face of fear or uncertainty. It is rare that people are intentionally trying to cause harm or take advantage of the organization, however the circumstances we are navigating are complicated and layered. Without taking time and space to work through the challenges as they come up disruption, harm, and unintended consequences often occur. Organizations, leaders, and individuals may not know how to align to their values and have the capacity/space or proper processes in place to do the work.   

*(2022, January 17). Over 1 in 3 Canadians Report Burnout. Canadian HRReporter. Retrieved January 15, 2023, from https://www.hrreporter.com/focus-areas/wellness-mental-health/over-1-in-... You can also find this article through the CPHR website here: https://www.cphrab.ca/values-more-poster-ember%E2%80%99s-wall%E2%80%AF%E2%80%AF

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