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Sharing the Good from the Catalyst Summit

Sharing the Good from the Catalyst Summit

If you're familiar with Kinesis, you know that we're on a mission to transform purpose-driven organizations and elevate those using business as a force for good. The Catalyst Community is our way of doing just that — bringing together forward-thinking leaders to discuss the greatest challenges and opportunities facing small business.

Each year, we bring that community together for an annual summit to share big ideas and bold new strategies. This year's event was certainly a day to remember!

Catalyst 2021 focused on the future of work, and more specifically how we shape that future to be more human-centered. With employers struggling to attract new candidates amidst ‘The Great Resignation,’ we’re in need of a new approach to recruiting, retention, and culture. The day served as a space for purpose-driven business leaders to connect, share meaningful insights, and take away actionable strategies to implement right away.

In fact, there were so many relevant and thoughtful takeaways, we just couldn’t keep them to ourselves. That’s why in typical Kinesis fashion, we’re ‘sharing the good.’ In case you missed out on this year's summit, here were some of our favorite soundbites from the day.

Session Topics We Explored:

The Future of Work is Human

In transitioning to a more human-centered way of working, we’re able to focus on creating better experiences for humans across the entire organization. Our keynote discussion framed the summit around three human-centric business principles:

  • Free yourself from best practices. Best practices can seem reassuring, but we often wish for them to work more than they actually do.
  • Look for relics of mechanistic thinking, and make changes. Humans are not a machine - so stop treating them like one. One example of mechanistic thinking may be ‘more hours worked equals more productivity.’
  • Make energy your mission. Explore what blocks or creates energy within the organization. Do efforts get stuck in silos? Where is there organizational debt?

A New Approach to Hiring: 

How to Compete for a Limited Candidate Pool

With the current workforce shortages, it’s clear that recruiting strategies need to change. In this session, we explored innovative approaches to recruiting and hiring to help businesses attract candidates. Here’s what some business leaders are implementing in their organizations to widen the candidate pool:

  • Be more transparent. Today’s candidates want to understand what they can expect in their day-to-day, what the company culture is like, how they will be compensated, and how they can grow. Operate with transparency at all stages of the hiring process.
  • Broaden the scope. Look for candidates outside of those traditionally deemed as ‘qualified’ for the job. Does a person need to have a college degree, specific years of experience, or be at a certain point in their career journey? Be more intentional about what’s needed for the job.
  • Create a success profile. This profile serves as an outline for the role and includes details on how success is gauged as well as how the role functions within the business and as part of the larger vision.

The Human-Centered Business:

Retain Your People By Making Them Your Priority

Employees are evaluating their current workplaces with more scrutiny than ever before, extending from culture to flexibility to purpose. In this session, we explored how to enable people to be their best selves at work and contribute in meaningful ways. A human-centered approach begins to take shape when we:

  • Build trust. Approach differences not with the intention to shape and direct, but with the intention to listen and learn. Take time to listen to what people need in the short and long term.
  • Empower people. Provide teams with the tools and resources to find solutions and make autonomous decisions.
  • Be open. Rely on humans to guide and shape the path forward for the business and be open to the possibilities that creates.

Marketing & Branding:

It’s Not Just for New Customers Anymore

It’s a candidate’s market, which means organizations need to do more to stand out amidst competing job opportunities. We discussed the importance of a good employer brand and how to apply lessons from traditional marketing strategies to attract more right-fit candidates. Our three favorite insights included:

  • Avoid the ‘sea of sameness.’ From a candidate’s perspective, there are a lot of employers offering similar opportunities. Employ creative solutions to stand out, like elevating internal voices to share their experiences.
  • Create employee value props. Do we have a ‘product’ that candidates actually want to buy? Take control of the conversation by translating your organization’s value – this could include investing in growth paths, providing real-world experience, or equitable compensation and benefits.
  • Manage your reputation. Future employees are always observing and forming opinions about our business. Even in unconscious moments, it’s important that we ‘walk the talk’ and show up in a way that’s authentic to the culture we’ve created.

Going Beyond Diversity:

How to Build an Equitable and Inclusive Workforce

As DEI has emerged as a table stake initiative in the business world, there’s been an over-emphasis on diversity in hiring…although it’s only a tiny piece of an employee’s experience. In this breakout, we explored how to create a workplace that is safe and supportive for every employee, especially after they’re hired. Here are some lessons learned:

  • Employ a ‘Grassroots & Grasstops’ approach. It’s not just about listening; it’s also important to follow through. Make sure affinity groups include someone close to the leadership level who can represent and share with the leadership team to make things happen.
  • Drop the perfectionism. Instead, embrace that improving equity and inclusion practices is messy and won’t be perfect right away.
  • Explore smaller meetings. Experiment with smaller group sizes so that everyone has a chance to be heard.

The Modern Water Cooler:

Maintaining Culture in A Remote or Hybrid Environment

The nature of work has changed radically, introducing a wave of new challenges from technology to communication. We discussed ways to embrace this evolution by moving beyond Zoom best practices to creating sustainable, collaborative environments that work for everyone. A few key takeaways:

  • Create shared experiences. Schedule uninterrupted time for connection and collaboration. This could include a mix of informal Zoom meetings, software to facilitate random connections throughout the week, a fun Slack channel, or monthly movie nights.
  • Schedule intentional meetings. Brainstorms lend themselves well to extroverts and in-the-moment thinking, but remote work presents an opportunity to rethink how and when we meet. By doing ‘pre-work’ prior to meetings, we can use meeting time to fully debrief and identify actions for follow up.
  • Allow for flexibility. Give people the agency to show up in the way that makes sense for them. By offering flexibility around employees having cameras and microphones on, we create safer spaces for employees to engage.

Looking Forward:

Reaching Your Potential in 2022 and Beyond

We all had high hopes for 2021, but in some ways this year has been even more difficult. We’re just now coming out of the other side, but the way we work has fundamentally changed. At the close of the summit, business leaders shared their hopes for realizing big transformations, building more partnerships, and establishing deeper connections to the work. Whether that’s through reimagining business models, expanding customer bases, or talking candidly about barriers that exist, it’s imperative that people are centered in this work and feeling invested in that change.


Let’s get to work

Catalyst 2021 left us feeling energized and ready to put what we learned into action. With an agenda that was fully shaped by attendees and conversations that were candid, meaningful, and full of big ideas, the event truly lived up to its name. We’re grateful to be part of a small business community that continues to reimagine what work could look like, starting with humans at the center.

Want to get involved, or stay in the loop about next year's event? Learn more about the Catalyst Community.

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