According to the US Department of Labor, a staggering 11 million people in the US quit their jobs between April and June. What employees accepted in 2020 BC (before COVID) has drastically changed.

The reset button on humanity has been pressed and we're never turning back. The shutdown gave us time to question what we want for ourselves, our organizations, and the world. What do I value most? Am I spending my time on what's most meaningful? Does my workplace align with my values and purpose?

Previous motivators (money, status, promotions) are no longer the driving factors for happiness or retention. During this season of the Great Resignation and Great Awakening, how we define happiness has evolved.

How do we attract and retain top talent while creating space for growth and innovation? According to Jenn Lim, author of Beyond Happiness: How Authentic Leaders Prioritize Purpose and People for Growth and Impact, we need to create ideal "greenhouse conditions" for people so that our teams and companies can adapt to thrive.  

4 Greenhouse Conditions to Adapt and Thrive

Lim is the CEO of Delivering Happiness, a company she and Tony Hsieh (the late CEO of Zappos.com) co-founded to create happier, and more profitable, company cultures. In Beyond Happiness, Lim expands the Greenhouse Model, which is rooted in the core of being scientifically happy and authentically whole, with organizational design elements to build sustainable, profitable companies. What does that look like in practice? 

1. Alignment

You may have seen videos of starlings, appearing as if they had choreographed synchronized flying. What they are truly doing is coordinating their speed and direction based on each other's movements, influenced by the actions of a predator. Starlings work in alignment with each other to navigate their path and avoid danger.

For our teams to productively work together, we need shared behaviors in place to build alignment. This is where individual purpose, values, and behaviors (PVBs) come into play. Purpose provides the goal, values and behaviors create actions. Lim states, "When you clearly define them and apply the scientific levers of happiness--control to make decisions, progress in their contributions, and connectedness--you'll create a future-proof sense of alignment."

2. Belonging

When there are diverse species, plants, animals, and microorganisms, the ecosystem is sustainable. They're more productive because every species has a specific role to play. They even recover more quickly in the event of natural disasters. It's no coincidence that the equivalent of biodiversity in a business creates the same results.

According to research published in Harvard Business Review, people are 3.5 times more likely to perform at their fullest potential when they feel a sense of belonging at work. This begins with a conscious effort to establish a safe space where every person can be heard. The ROI of belonging is sustainability, productivity, resourcefulness, resilience, and adaptability.

3. Accountability

Accountability is often demanded from others but rarely from ourselves. It's why accountability tends to get overused and misinterpreted. Instead, it's being responsible, taking ownership of something (good or bad), and communicating honestly with transparency.

Accountability happens in cultures where people are held to their shared and combined PVBs, creating individual and shared ownership. Leaders are responsible for taking care of their employees, and the employees are responsible for getting the job done. "Organizations are our modern-day villages to connect. And we need to build these social contracts, with clear roles and responsibilities, knowing we're working toward the same goals and purpose," states Lim.

4. Commitment

As a leader, you can create alignment, belonging, and accountability, but it will fall flat without commitment. In an actual greenhouse, nothing will grow if you don't commit to tending the garden. As an organization, Lim stresses that every individual must commit to the PVBs.

What makes teams highly effective at achieving their common goal is their commitment to each other: on an individual level (the me) and what's good for the team (the we), to the success of the organization, customers, partners, and vendors (community). These teams, Lim emphasizes, trusts and leverages each member's talents in intelligent, efficient ways. If everyone on the team is genuinely committed to a common purpose, they can quickly adapt and double down on things that are working well.

By applying the essential greenhouse conditions--we're creating ecosystems that adapt and endure, no matter what unknowns will be thrown our way. When we design for growth, we do good for people and the planet, and become more profitable and sustainable in work-life; a quadruple win for all.