A new collaborative book by members of the “Great Work Cultures” (GWC) movement aims to transform organizations and create more humanistic environments for employees to work in. Joan Blades, a prominent activist for positive change who launched the movement, praises the contributors to the book as “brilliant innovators and leaders who know how to structure workplaces that sing”.
Statistics show that the average worker is disengaged and that most workplace productivity is a fraction of what it could be. Members of the GWC movement believe, however, that workplace environments which are deeply respectful of all workers will be productive and experience very low turnover. This book is an outcome of their intention to accelerate positive change at work.
In this interview, book contributor, Ozlem Brooke Erol, discusses her chapter, From Profit to Purpose: How Purpose-Driven Leadership Drives Companies to Thrive (and still make money). Ozlem Brooke Erol started her career at IBM. After her own journey to figure out what her purpose in life is, she started her first business, Your Best Life Inc., in 2003 to help professionals have more fulfilling careers. After being around so many unhappy people at work, her new business, Purposeful Business, came alive to help leaders create inspiring and purpose-driven environments. She is the author of Create a Life You Love and co-author of Transform Your Life II.
Ozlem Brooke Erol, what is your chapter called in the collaborative effort that you’re a part of?
Ozlem Brooke Erol Shares From Profit to Purpose: How Purpose-Driven Leadership Drives Companies to Thrive (and still make money)
What do you hope to achieve from the collaboration of this book?
Ozlem Brooke Erol: More awareness of what the future workplace looks like and what leaders can do about it. Despite its many successes, workplace is in a state of crisis, struggling to get beyond ways of thinking and acting that seem increasingly out of sync with the times.
Many leaders are aware of the high turnover or low engagement rates, but they don’t have clarity on what to do yet. So, I believe with this book, we’re going to bring different perspectives on how to lead right now. I really hope to increase the awareness and want to see leaders take action. I believe there is great value bringing in experts with different experiences in one book to have a bigger impact. I loved the collaboration we had along the way with my co-authors.
Could you briefly share what you do with regard to this topic or what you do in general?
Ozlem Brooke Erol: Sure. I work with the leaders of organizations so that they can create work cultures where people can be themselves, use their potential, be creative, understand they are contributing to a bigger purpose than profit, and feel they belong. I speak, write, and work as a consultant on these topics. I help leaders eliminate patterns that have been very limiting to all of us. I help them reduce turnover (which has a much higher cost than they ever calculate); hire and retain the right people, and increase employee engagement. I help them be clear about their purpose beyond profit, so that it becomes the foundation of their business strategy.
Excellent. And what’s your company called?
Ozlem Brooke Erol: Purposeful Business.
There are many statistics about how disengaged the average worker is. Briefly, why do you think the average worker is disengaged?
Ozlem Brooke Erol: There are a lot of reasons as discussed throughout the book. One of the reasons I would say is we’ve stayed in the Industrial Age mindset for too long. We are at a different stage in organizational consciousness now but the mindset unfortunately stayed in the front office of many organizations. So, what are some examples of Industrial Age mindset? Command-control, micromanagement, the fact that titles depict managers as if they know better than others, nine-to-five scheduling of work, not offering any flexibility and telling people to separate work and personal life. These worked for a while, but not anymore. As Reinventing Organizations books explains, the way we lead organizations change as the consciousness level of humanity increases. So, we’re at the level where people are questioning the status quo, especially Millennials who watched their parents getting laid off even if they did everything right (got good education, worked hard, obeyed for the most part). Since Millennials are the biggest segment of the workplace and they will soon consist of 75%, their values and their expectations of work is forcing change in the business world. They’re questioning everything they do; they don’t want to live for weekends only; they want to work for and buy from companies that carry social responsibility. So, of course, this is a very big and long topic to talk about, but that would be my answer briefly.
It is said that workplace productivity is a fraction of what it could be. What do you believe will increase workplace productivity?
Ozlem Brooke Erol: First of all, I definitely believe in purpose. Every entrepreneur, including myself, have a purpose besides making profit when we start. That gives us the energy to overcome all the challenges of starting and running a business. Over time though some leaders and organizations lose sight of the purpose. All we need to do is to remember our why in the first place, have clarity on what we want to do for others, not only for the people who work for us, but for our communities, for our clients; basically all our stakeholders. We need to hire the people who are a good match to our purpose and our values. We need to spend more time in hiring since it will save us a lot more in the long run. We need to understand what the talent we want to attract expects at work. If people feel like they’re more aligned with who they are at work, if they like what they do, if they feel like they’re a good fit – not only with the job description, but also with the culture, the value and the purpose of the company – their engagement, job satisfaction, productivity increase. The new generations ask meaningful questions earlier in life; they are purpose-driven. They don’t want to look at their job just to pay the bills. So, there’s a lot of steps to take, but culture, having a clear purpose, and hiring the right people are some of the crucial steps we can take as leaders.