Actualize Consulting has a new service offering and associated book titled Culture Infusion. What is Culture Infusion? And why does it matter? Read on to find out both the what and the why.
Since 2010, I’ve focused on enhancing our team experiences for Actualize Consulting; it’s been my passion and why I love my job. Each year we’ve seen our team getting happier and healthier, and we now have the lowest attrition rates since our inception in 2003.
Last year, Chad—our founding partner and also my brother—asked that I develop and offer to our clients a service sharing how to improve corporate culture. Thus, Culture Infusion was born.
What is Culture Infusion?
Let’s start with culture. Culture is an embodiment of the way we live our lives; it describes our way of being. At first, I thought I could compartmentalize my life and maintain a culture specific to each segment. But that left me drained as I showed up for work and personal life in different ways. When I finally decided that the same principles I was applying to my personal life could translate to my corporate life as well, everything shifted and started to flow; I was infusing the principles I strove for into all aspects of my life, and I had more capacity than I ever knew was possible. This was a new approach to culture worth pursuing and developing for other businesses.
So we have. Culture infusion simply means taking this same integrative approach to a corporate level—infusing the principles you strive for as a firm into all aspects of your business. Let’s take creating a wellness program, for example. You could have a large wellness fair, add health screenings, and call it a wellness program—likely with low impact. Or, as we do at Actualize Consulting, you could intentionally infuse wellness into all aspects of your firm and transform your whole corporate culture.
At our firm, we begin with prioritizing personal wellness and insisting on a healthy work/life balance. One of the ways we live this out is by hosting very interactive programs throughout the year to challenge our employees to learn about overall well-being. Team members take the lead each month in sharing perspectives on topics such as how to get started making healthy changes, benefits of muscle, impacts of sugar, and how to protect and maintain your hearing health. This spring, we used an online program to track our progress, which stoked a healthy competition between employees. We also held weekly wellness gatherings with different themes, where many team members shared, among a variety of other topics, how they plan meals, their favorite ways to keep moving throughout the day, and how they stay motivated. Our latest wellness program is supporting kids with cancer by tracking the miles walked, run, or biked for a month (with Actualize giving donations to the fundraising organization), coupled with wellness sharing for the entire month.
Why Culture Infusion?
Taking a silo approach to a healthy corporate work culture is a dead-end street. At Actualize, we’ve learned firsthand that a holistic approach to wellness creates the opposite—it keeps opening up the possibilities and releasing more and more energy. As each area of an employee’s life improves, it automatically boosts every other area of their life. The result is happier employees who are motivated to perform at their highest capacity, which in turn leads to happier clients.
This dynamic cultural change starts on an individual level. You must thrive personally in order to lead others effectively. The table below outlines the nine principles of Culture Infusion that will help you develop a customized plan to transform your own corporate culture, beginning with yourself. Whether you are a top-level executive or lead a team, these principles will give you valuable insights into how to create and maintain a sought-after workplace.
By Erin Hurley, M.Ed., RCYT
School counselors are in a unique position to be leaders in creating systemic change within their school and beyond. I believe that meeting the needs of our students requires engaging with the community in which they live. Last year, my school counseling colleagues and I made significant efforts to reach out to our students’ communities by collaborating with families, outside service providers and local businesses to promote self-compassion and overall wellness for our students.
I am beginning my fifth year as the school counselor at Cherry Run Elementary in Burke, Va., which is a suburban community outside of Washington, D.C. In our division, the elementary, middle and high school counselors work as a collaborative team to support our students by using common language and initiatives. Data collected in 2016 indicated that many of our students were experiencing high levels of stress. In response, school counselors decided to design a Compassion for Self initiative. We were able to use advisory councils to engage parents and community members in our initiative and make sure the needs of our students were being met.
We researched outside service providers that could support our Compassion for Self initiative and found Rachel Bailey. She is a clinical psychologist and a parenting specialist who designed a presentation for our families titled “Raising Resilient Children: Fostering Positive Self-Esteem and Teaching Tools for Success.” We also worked with a local company called Zendoway that has designed squeezable cubes that outline self-care practices. We told the owner of the company, Kerry Wekelo, about our Compassion for Self initiative and how we were teaching students to use coping strategies to manage their stress. She loved the idea and asked the counselors to come up with their most frequently used coping strategies. Then she offered to design a cube specifically for us and generously donated one to every school counselor, psychologist and social worker!
In addition to working with service providers and local businesses, I also facilitate a few extracurricular activities to bring self-care practices to my students and the community. I offer a before-school yoga program for the students at Cherry Run. Yoga has been a great way to promote self-care and the students absolutely love it. I am also currently teaching a Mindfulness for Families class once a month for parents and children to learn mindfulness tools to reduce stress.
I am grateful for the opportunity to support students and families through a profession that I love. Working together, we can create the systemic change necessary to reduce student stress and foster self-care and overall wellness for our students.
Erin Hurley is VSCA Region 4 representative. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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