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The Heart of a Company

Updated: Oct 3, 2022

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that compassion and empathy go a long way toward healing. The time we have spent at home has allowed most of us to reflect on this, along with the kinds of companies that we want to work for or do business with. Social and corporate responsibility has become more than a website statement or a few images portraying nondescript charity work. Nowadays, we're all looking for a lot more action and fewer words when it comes to the heart of a company.

The Reimagined

I often ask people whether the company they work for represents their value system. For example, is it doing something worthy in the world to give back and pay it forward? These are some of the things that we had time to ponder during the pandemic, along with what it means to be empathetic or sympathetic. The universe opened up, albeit in a disorienting way, and allowed us to do some soul searching.

According to a recent survey from Accenture, 50% of consumers say that the pandemic caused them to rethink their purpose and re-evaluate what's important to them in life. Forty-two percent say the pandemic made them realize that they need to focus on others more than themselves. They refer to this segment of the population as The Reimagined.

In terms of work, The Reimagined are asking themselves, "Should I stay" and regarding spending, it's "Would I pay?" As a result, we're looking at the guiding principles and fundamental beliefs of a company to size them up and determine whether they align with our new approach to life. But it's more than whether a company has core values; the shift in focus has become whether they are living their values and feel proud in their involvement with this company.

Therefore, it's time companies truly take stock.

Taking Stock

At Aegis, we often take stock and look at how we're making an impact through the charities we support and the social movements that are going on in our society. For example, before it became more mainstream, we took 100 individuals from our staff to the March for Civility in Washington, DC. We felt compelled to show our support of treating others with respect and dignity even if or when we might disagree on something. We literally walked the walk instead of just talking the talk.

During the pandemic, children needed to be homeschooled, but it quickly became clear that not everyone has three computers laying around for their children to use. Therefore, we bought hundreds of laptops for our staff so their children could attend school and they could access professional development opportunities or work from home.

But it's equally essential to be conscious of what people are going through even when there isn't a global pandemic. We know that we will have someone that's going through a personal trauma or crisis every year. This can include a domestic issue or a need to suddenly move into a new living space. Or perhaps someone has gotten behind on their bills and just can't get caught up no matter what they do.

That's when we step in. Because our people matter. We're one of the only for-profit companies in the country with a charitable foundation dedicated to its employees. It's called the Potato Soup Foundation, and we're there to help our employees in times of struggle and when they are in need. After all, they do so much to help us; why shouldn't the relationship be reciprocal?

Donations come from outside and inside the organization. Hundreds of our employees donate to the Foundation; it's people helping people so they can all succeed. It might be something as small as buying a new set of tires for an employee’s car, so that we know they can get to and from work safely in the Seattle winters, or something as large as paying for a first round of chemotherapy treatments for a loved one. Each year, about two dozen Aegis workers in need of financial assistance receive help from the Potato Soup Foundation. And that's what is unique about our culture.

The Pandemic Pause

When you're in this time of pandemic pause, I really want you to think about who you want to work for and what are their values? What is the mission? Is it more than a corporate statement, and does it consider the employees who work day in and day out to make the company succeed?

Before the pandemic, most of us were simply grateful to have a paycheck. We were willing to accept less because the company had all the power. They could hire and fire at will. And while some of this perception remains, the pandemic has shown us all that life is too short to settle for scraps.

We are starting to ask ourselves whether the company will be there for me when I go through times of struggle. More and more of us are wondering whether the company will have our backs. And this is something that has become more of a priority. The character of a company and how it treats its people is something job seekers are willing to hold out for instead of prestige. And it's less of a perk or benefit but a requirement. The pandemic has leveled the playing field giving the employee a little more sway in the negotiation process. Especially now that more and more employees have become comfortable with remote work and the opportunities have broadened.

Companies need to realize the pandemic pause has shifted the way we do business and what employees want from an employer. Otherwise, they'll be left behind.

Until next time, Live Well, Live Long!


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