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Be Like A Tree

"Be like a tree. Stay grounded.  Connect with your roots. Turn over a new leaf.  Bend before you break. Enjoy your unique natural beauty. Keep growing." – Joanne Raptis  

Since discovering this quote a few months ago, I’ve begun to realize its direct relevance to our work.

One of our primary responsibilities is support, supporting our teams and their health. Trees support life and exist as a symbol of wisdom, resilience, strength, bounty, and beauty. They provide frames for our homes, shade for our heads and oxygen for our lungs. They are the strong roots and growth we must personally emulate as we open ourselves to change, learning and renewing.
As we move forward in 2021, how do we support the life, resilience and strength of our organizations and teams? How do we provide support to help balance growth and learning?

As a natural by-product of monumental change, this last year has born witness to individuals shedding old routines in favor of new ones. As though to compensate for a life upended, many of those thrown off their routine had to establish something new to regain a sense of balance. The same thing happened to our organizations; while we’ve learned to balance safety with our productivity goals, we’ve created something totally new. 

This swift adaptation allowed us to continue functioning as both individual organizations, as well as a coalition of like-minded employers. Yet balance alone is not our sole concern. We’ve also had to think how to best communicate and engage with our employees.

Pre-pandemic, this was already a challenge. But now with millions working from home, the difficulty has been compounded. How do we get a remote workforce engaged in wellness and benefits programs? Will the same approach be successful for those working in the office and/or factory floor? To really answer these questions, we’ll need to account for what our employees value, how those values align with our mission and objectives, and how we can collectively continue to learn and move forward. 

Key to this will be creating an environment where employees have the opportunity to be true to themselves while meeting the company’s goals; this will be a focal point for forward-thinking organizations. However, doing this might require a reevaluation of corporate culture.

A fundamental question worth asking is whether culture exists in a place or is it a way of being? For example, “does our organization provide an environment, be it brick and mortar or virtual, where employees can continue to learn and be supported by leadership?”

People who continually learn tend to succeed and live longer and happier lives. They also contribute to a performance-based culture within an organization and are far more engaged. On the flip side, without a culture of learning within the workplace, employees may quickly become disengaged and will either work halfheartedly, merely trading their time for cash, or be on the lookout for another job. 

As you consider the subject of benefits engagement, consider how to support your employee’s critical thinking relative to their benefits. After all, thinking is essential for learning. In a general sense, we value our employee’s capacity to think, be it creatively, strategically, critically, or logically. It is those contributions our people make with their minds that drive our business forward.  

This is where our benefit teams can open themselves up to new ideas. Perhaps this is our catalyst to change — When we’re paying attention to where people’s values sit and incorporate them into our decision making, we will be best positioned to support their health and wellbeing. A team of healthy, engaged employees is a resilient team, one capable of adapting to and thriving through any adversity. 

A tree is not worried about change. It is solid, grounded and knows when to bend. It knows change is inevitable and growth is constant. The time is ripe for us to keep in touch with our roots while trying some new approaches. The future is not a foregone conclusion as everything remains in flux.

The future of our teams is being written as we speak. Each of you holds a pen. If you had the chance to exact change with that instrument, what would you write? 

Patty Starr bio image

About the author

Patty Starr

Patty Starr is president and CEO of Health Action Council and is responsible for driving the strategic direction of the organization--build stronger, healthier communities where business can thrive. 

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