The Healing Organization
Would you like to work at a healing organization that alleviates suffering and elevates joy? Raj Sisodia's latest book describes a positive culture, with positive leadership - and offers organizations a calling: to contribute to healing.
But should organizations heal - and what, who, and how? Aren't organizations meant to make money, instead of healing employees, society, and the environment?
That's a narrow and selfish view of business, says Conscious Capitalism’s co-founder Raj Sisodia. His book, The Healing Organization, written with Michael Gelb, invites us to develop healing organizations that alleviate suffering and elevate joy.
Sisodia was interviewed Jane Dutton and Monica Worline of the Center for Positive Organizations of the University of Michigan. Dutton and Worline also did uplifting research and published the great book Compassion at Work.
"We live in a world of suffering alongside beauty, but still: so much suffering" says Sisodia. Modern corporations have been focused on profits over people and the environment, but this approach to capitalism is no longer viable. There's an epidemic of unnecessary suffering connected with business, including the destruction of the environment; increasing numbers living paycheck-to-paycheck and barely surviving (despite working full-time or even multiple jobs); rising rates of depression and stress leading to chronic health problems. Business must take the lead in healing the crises of our time. Sisodia: "Healing is a meta purpose for our time."
"When I wrote Everybody Matters with Bob Chapman, the CEO if Barry Wehmuller, I realized again: people burnout through work. We need wholeness and community through business. Healing is a synonym for wholeness. We should give people a future, we should care."
Sisodia was also inspired by Greyston Bakery. Their purpose is to "give people a first chance". Often, people don't get that chance to participate in society. They do open hiring via a list: you can subscribe and will be hired when it's your turn, with no background checks. This is how many ex-prisoners made a new start.
Safe to ask for help
What happens in a healing organization? "People feel safe to share challenges and ask for help", answers Sisodia. "Most people at work have a veneer of professionalism; they are stoic and heroic, in spite of wounds and burdens. But the burdens are huge for many, especially financial stress. Half of the people cannot access a 2000 USD-loan within two weeks if something were the matter. We need a climate of caring at work."
You might notice the similarity with a positive culture - as we practice and teach in the Positive Culture Academy and workshops.
That might be easier said than done. The leaders of organizations set the tone and should go first. Appletree Answers is a call center and communication services organization and tried to develop a caring culture. The CEO encouraged safety but no one asked for help.
Finally one desperate employee asked for help. Her ex-husband had stopped paying alimony and she had been living in her car with the kids. When the CEO heard this, he felt shame:
"She works fulltime and she wouldn't tell us that she's homeless."
The book shows how companies such as Shake Shack, Hyatt, KIND Healthy Snacks, Eileen Fisher, H-E-B, FIFCO, Jaipur Rugs and DTE Energy are healing their employees, customers, communities and other stakeholders. They are very diverse but have this in common:
- Their employees love coming to work.
- They have passionately loyal customers.
- They make a significant positive difference to the communities they serve.
- They preserve and restore the ecosystems in which they operate.
Altruism and Compassion
What's your culture like? Can you ask for help and do you allow people to help each other? We should awaken altruism, says Sisodia. When Barry Wehmuller Inc. was hit by the 2008 crisis, Bob Chapman wondered what to do. All competitors were laying off people. But his slogan was: "We measure success by how we contribute to people's lives." So, Chapman asked: What would a family do? How can we be true to ourselves if we fire people? They made it through, because they shared the burden and everyone took some time off without pay. Some took more time off if they could afford it, to help other colleagues who needed the money more.
"Organizations can enhance or inhibit our ability to care", states Sisodia. That's so true. People copy, coach, and correct each other daily. What you do at work, you take back home. Sisodia recommends using tools and approaches from Positive Psychology to alleviate self-inflicted suffering, but also suffering inflicted by others.
According to Sisodia, society is the first stake-holder of businesses. Profit is necessary to pay taxes and have public utilities, to offer people jobs, to offer services and products. But it matters how you make that money.
© Marcella Bremer, 2019. All rights reserved.