Creating a Non-Disposable Culture
Each summer, my family takes a road trip adventure down the Pacific Coast in our Airstream trailer. Traveling and living in in close quarters together gives us an opportunity to unplug for a few days and really spend some quality time reconnecting with one another and the world around us.
One of the things that struck me on this last road trip was how much emphasis our culture places on throwing things away. Everything we purchase, from food to electronics and more, comes wrapped in layers of unnecessary packaging. Milk cartons come equipped with plastic screw tops, condiments like salt and pepper are dispensed in plastic sacks with plastic cutlery that goes completely unused, and coffee cups are wrapped in additional linings of cardboard and nestled into cardboard trays that are thrown away after being carried some short distance to their destination. On the road, it’s especially hard to avoid participating in this culture of disposability — it seems like we are being trained as consumers to think that disposability is normal.
The message behind all of these practices seems to be that convenience is more important than long term sustainability, and that one-time usage is all that is required or expected. In a culture where disposability has become the dominant paradigm, this way of thinking goes beyond packaging – it seeps into everything we do.
A recent research survey from the University of Kansas concludes that there may be a connection between the way we treat these kinds of objects and the way we perceive our relationships. The authors of this particular study found that people who frequently relocate tend to develop “relational disposability” toward things and people alike. In the US, it’s not at all unusual for people to move for school or a job – in fact, that kind of mobility often correlates to success. But will throwing away everything that we’ve created in the never-ending quest for something better going to lead to the right kind of success in the long term?
In today’s volatile business climate, many organizations find themselves in a similar dynamic, in which they feel have to recruit constantly in order to ensure that they have a steady supply of people to handle the work. While bringing in new faces can definitely help to re-energize teams by providing a fresh perspective, the perpetual search for new talent often leads to a revolving door effect in which new hires are never fully utilized, and the existing employees never feel truly valued.
Perhaps it’s time to take a step back and remember that the best ideas can and should come from anywhere within the organization. They already exist within the workforce – the tricky part is surfacing them in a way that makes them actionable across teams, departments, and roles. This is particularly true in large enterprises, in which the workforce is dispersed across multiple offices and diverse geographies.
Is your organization inadvertently throwing away its best ideas by failing to collect input and create a connection with the people who know the business best? If so, don’t despair — we have all been culpable, to some degree. The good news is that it’s never too late to start creating a non-disposable culture. One thing that I’ve personally started doing is to shop for quality items of clothing that have been gently worn or used, rather than purchasing lower quality items that are new but won’t last as long. Just as we are all trying to retrain ourselves to reduce, reuse, and recycle items in our daily life, we can make a commitment to cultivating a workplace where the people are not “thrown away.”
By collecting and distilling actionable feedback and insight in real-time, Waggl is helping organizations to boost employee engagement, enhance culture, align on goals, manage change initiatives, activate talent and more. Progressive companies like City Electric Supply have been using Waggl to give their employees a voice, and in the process, have dramatically reducing turnover and created a shared sense of purpose across the organization.
As explained so eloquently by Thomas McShane, CMO, City Electric Supply: “Our core ethos centers around integrity, empowerment, passion, and superb customer service. Those values are clearly embraced by management, but when we took a closer look at how they were being implemented across the organization, we found that although we’ve developed some great Olympic swimmers over the years, we’ve also drowned a few in the process. Now we are focusing harder on training and onboarding, to make sure that those values are clearly communicated from the start. We bring people out to Dallas for a deeper education process as they are hired, and we use Waggl to collect feedback from our employee base that will continue to help the company become stronger as it grows. After implementing this new process in an initial pilot program, our turnover rate among pilot participants dropped significantly.”
If you are interested in seeing for yourself why Waggl is the most human way to nurture talent and create alignment across the organization, please sign up for a demo today.
This blog post was written by Michael Papay, Waggl Co-Founder and CEO.