Many of my clients, family and friends are starting to return to the office. One of those is Pamay Bassey, chief learning and diversity officer of the Kraft Heinz Company.
Pamay told me she makes a conscious choice to “start before I’m ready” with most things in her life, and as such recently visited the company’s Chicago offices for a trial run of returning from the work-from-home life many of us have been living due to the pandemic.
When Pamay entered the headquarters, she was greeted by familiar sights – the larger-than-life Kool-Aid Man, a wall made to resemble stacked Kraft Singles, a Velveeta branded “Quesofa” that invites employees to sit and have a cheesy connect with a coworker. As she approached her workspace, my friend smiled when she saw, on the wall, her company’s Purpose in huge letters:
“It reminded me of our collective call to action, our reason to exist – reminding each of us why the work we do each day matters,” she said.
A Deloitte study states that purpose-driven companies have higher market share gains and grow three times faster on average than their competitors, all while achieving higher workforce and customer satisfaction. This study is part of a growing body of work that shows the importance of purpose and how powerful it can be for people and corporations to live in alignment with what matters to them.
In Pamay’s wonderful new book, “Let’s Learn Our Way Through It, Shall We,” she shares lessons from a year spent learning something new every day and sharing it with her colleagues. One of those lessons that jumped out to me: “Knowing your purpose is critical. Aligning your purpose with your company’s purpose is magical … if the organization walks in its purpose, and you do, you move together. You win together.”
For some of us, this pandemic motivated us to think about what matters most to us. Our personal purpose became much clearer. For Pamay, considering how her personal Purpose aligns with her company’s Purpose has helped provide a clearer roadmap about how to make a return to the office more meaningful.
She connected the two by thinking about what “made her life delicious” during quarantine.
Pamay said, “The things that I have been most grateful for, that I depended on to keep me sane while so much of the world was drenched in uncertainty? For one, the empathy that I developed for myself and for others—for my team, for my friends and family, and for members of my community that I focused on helping in the ways that I was empowered to help.”
She added that regular walks by Lake Michigan and through the Chicago Botanical Garden allowed her to connect with nature, and rides on her Peloton bike connected her with friends who were focused on health and wellness from home.
“I’m grateful for the technology that allowed my colleagues and me from around the world to connect, learn together, and check in on each other,” she said. “Also music, fresh cut flowers, long drives with my windows open, and talking more often with my family and sorority sisters and friends from college. Committing to self-care, sleep, meditation, writing. These are things that made my life delicious during COVID times, and things that I know I need to make sure that I continue to enjoy even after I return to the office and a different workflow emerges within a hybrid work environment.”
Since Pamay is a leader of people, she told me she’s been grateful for this time of challenge as she’s learned more about what matters most to each of her team members, and she’s committed to supported them in continuing to keep those things in their lives as they return to the office. “That’s an important responsibility,” she added.
As Bob Dylan reminded us, “The times they are a changin’.” March 2020 will turn out to be one of the biggest pivot points in our lives, and my guess is the summer/fall of 2021 will be another as we return full time to a world that is now transformed by our collective experience going through one of the most challenging times in human history.
If you haven’t yet, I’d encourage you today to spend some time thinking about your personal purpose. Write it down. Refer to it often. And see how you can align it with your organization’s mission. A focus on purpose can help you navigate the changing rhythms of life. And while you are pondering that purpose why not cook up a pot of Mac & Cheese!
Read more: The Purpose-Driven Business
This article was also published on Chester Elton's LinkedIn
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