Connections and Fresh Perspectives

Connections and Fresh Perspectives

By Megan Toal

Five months into my new job, I was ecstatic to help plan, execute, and MC at ֱ’s Spring Connections, an annual meeting for all staff to have a chance to connect and hear from a speaker. Even though I was a first-timer and had one of the freshest perspectives on Connections, everyone can glean something from what we learned. Just like a good back-to-basics refresher course, a new perspective is something that everyone can take on a familiar event. That’s why we have Connections: it’s meant for everyone.

This year, we invited speaker Mitch Brown of diversity and inclusion consulting firm to present on our theme Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Here are 4 things I learned from my very first Connections that anyone can apply to their own work or life.

Get Out of Your Headspace

Getting out of your workspace and into a different physical location will get you out of your headspace. I already knew this from working at an overnight summer camp. Being in a different environment with different activities from your daily grind gives you a different perspective, makes you more creative, helps you think out of the box, and helps you bond with your peers in a different way—in short, helping you hit the reboot button at the office. All of these factors will be reflected in your job and your professional self moving forward, which is beneficial for both our companies and our professional development and well-being.

Get on the Same Page

ֱ has 225 employees who all have various roles in which we collectively help each other and our clients gain success. The only problem is our daily work lives are busy and it’s difficult to connect with all 225 people on a regular basis. Connections was a great opportunity for us all to get on the same page: Scott Engle, our CEO, gave a presentation about ֱ’s strategic direction and the progress made on company goals to date. Additionally, our principals handed out service awards to employees who have reached milestones here. We got to collectively affirm where our company was strategically, as well as collectively congratulate our coworkers who have served ֱ and our client partners  for 5, 10, 15, and even 20 years. Connections is the great equalizer in which the entire company comes together to do the same thing, whether you’re our principal of 25 years or an employee of less than 1 year, like me.

Facetime with Our Leadership Team

On Glassdoor, a whopping 97% of ֱ employees approve of their CEO (I checked when I was applying). This is a fantastic statistic for everyone who works here and everyone who wants to work for a company where the employees believe in their leadership and their mission. Does this approval come from just the knowledge that the leadership is doing something good, beneficial, or positive? Sure, we take a lot of pride in helping not-for-profit associations Achieve what They Believe. I love telling people that “My job helps people who help nurses and physicians caring for people who are sick.” While this mission is my pride, CEO approval is more quickly gained and sustained when employees have multiple positive interactions with the leadership. Forming connections (rim shot) with, or at the very least, having some exposure to the leadership team, perpetuates a sense of unity in the workplace and in interpersonal relationships. We feel we are unified under our mission, and that as valued employees, we get to interact with our CEO.

Communicate Important Changes

Why have a theme in the first place? As mentioned above, it’s important to all get on the same page every once in a while because we work for a company with many people and many client partners. A theme meets, addresses, and implements action for a company need, and so convening at Connections to discuss Diversity and Inclusion together is the first step in meeting this company need and addressing ֱ’s We Care company principle: “We hire talented employees, help them flourish, and deliver outstanding results.” ֱ had just created a Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Group and recognized the importance of and urgent need to share with all of ֱ’s staff, which inspired this year’s theme and speaker. 

The theme, Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace, isn’t just a hot-button issue or a trend. As our speaker Mitch Brown said, the rising generation in the workforce—Millennials—is the most diverse generation to date. Millennials have so much more diversity in backgrounds, education, perspective, voice, thought, and capability than other generations beforehand. This is wonderful! In regard to this new demographic, diversity and inclusion is about innovation and adjusting to the new population that is changing the workplace; a radical generation that has a foot in both tradition and technology and that grew up learning from those before them to work harder, while actively and successfully experimenting with working smarter. These are the factors that, in collaboration with a company’s mission, pre-Millennial generations, and a strong work ethic, create a powerhouse of innovation and teamwork at the workplace.

While an element of the presentation was about the Millennial generation in the workforce, Diversity and Inclusion spans to every generation in the workplace. Are Millennials the only diverse people in the office? Of course not. There is and always has been diversity in thought, work ethic, communication styles, and the skills you bring to the office. Being different from each other is part of our human nature. However, as we witness the most diverse generation coming to the workforce (diverse in regards to gender, ethnicity, and education), we are reminded of our pre-existing differences in strengths and style as well as the new differences entering the office. And so Diversity and Inclusion is about everyone at ֱ and how we can adjust to people who have different perspectives and workstyles than us, which, in collaboration, will progress and innovate your business and lead to a more effective company.

United, We Succeed

Connections is a great opportunity to connect ֱ staff with each other, our leadership team, and topics that are important to our company. By coming together, getting on the same page, and including all staff in conversations about company strategy and staff needs, we are truly united as members of the ֱ team, and we can move forward as a unit in our strategies and successes.

Megan Toal is a content marketing association on the Creative Media Services team at ֱ.

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