Part 2: Ignite your Culture – How to Create a People Centered Business

A happy workforce is good for business. That translates to an environment where employees are inspired – where people WANT to make a difference. In this people-centered paradigm, strategists are looking beyond questions like “how can we be profitable?” Instead, they’re asking questions like “how can we be a great place to work?”

Companies that embrace the great-place-to-work model are at a competitive advantage in the war for talent. The best candidates are seeking those companies out. That’s making it more imperative for other aggressive companies to adopt that model as a key business goal.

What steps can a company take to be a great place to work? It starts with understanding key components of workplace satisfaction.

Employee engagement – companies with top-to-bottom engagement are more productive and perform better financially.  Engagement means staff are passionate and positive about what they do, and feel aligned with the company mission and goals.

Transparency – this came up as the #1 factor in a 2013 survey by Tinypulse. Open communication is key. The more employees feel connected with management, coworkers and work teams, the happier and more engaged they are.

Appreciation – being recognized for their work came out #1 in a huge Boston Consulting Group survey of over 200,000 people from around the world.

Other factors like compensation and company stability ranked high also, but focusing on the 3 above guides us to a key understanding: that a culture with open, positive communication can lead directly to a better workplace.

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Options4Growth Co-Founder Kirsti Tcherkoyan Profiled in Forbes Online

Kirsti Tcherkoyan, Co-Founder of Options4Growth, was recently profiled in Forbes Online. Kirsti and her business partner, Jill Pappenheimer, have a unique approach to running their business—they honor their people. They hire people who can no longer work 60 hours a week, but don’t want to be limited by what part-tme employment opportunities may offer. People want flexibility to pick up the kids, or care for their elderly parents. The employees of Options4Growth drive their own work schedules, so they can prioritize their lives. Kirsti and Jill’s approach is to empower employees to volunteer their time, give back to their communities, take care of themselves and their families.

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Kirsti In Kenya – A Cultural Consciousness

The first time I traveled to Kenya, I was taught that it was important to not force my Western standards on a country whose culture is quite different than mine.  The lesson has been a difficult one to learn, and today I found myself really questioning my own assumptions of how “things should be.”

Kirsti with Teacher Alfred, Volunteer Josh and three students.

Kirsti with three of the students, Teacher Alfred (center) and Josh (left), another volunteer.

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Kirsti in Kenya – They Say, “It Takes A Village!”

Today, we spent the day in what could be considered a small village.  Four small classrooms with nearly 100 children crammed inside of them.  And teaching them are two teachers who have done an amazing job of not only teaching the basics for school, but the basics of life.

Evelyn Waneloba and Alfred Gatimu are two remarkable teachers in this tiny learning center in the heart of Kawangware, Kenya. Kawangware is the second largest slum outside of Nairobi, home to over 400,000 people.  In this small learning center called, “Ray of Hope” and “Little Ray of Hope”, Evelyn and Alfred and a small group of others, make sure the children are clothed and fed each day before they go to school.  The older group of children, all go to public schools during the day, and get their breakfast and tutoring at the Ray of Hope.  The Little Ray of Hope is home to over 50 children from ages 2 – 7, who are being taught the basics before they can go to public school.

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