Monday, September 18, 2023

Let’s Celebrate Global Company Culture Day!

Do you know what today is? It’s Global Company Culture Day, observed every year on September 18, it is a day for companies and organizational leaders to focus on ensuring that their corporate culture functions in a way that maximizes productivity, profitability, and the happiness of employees.

This day offers an opportunity to reflect on the importance of the onboarding process to integrate new employees into the corporate culture and to explain an organization’s culture. Does your org have a detailed and consistent onboarding practice? Are there specific employees (representing different departments) that participate in new employee onboarding? What elements do you include?

I’d like to propose a book that should be part of the onboarding program for all organizations: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. While the book was first published in 1964 for children, it has been translated into numerous languages. While I read the book first as a child, the story has remained with me for decades. If you have not read it, I highly recommend it.

According to Wikipedia:

“The book follows the lives of an apple tree and a boy, who develop a relationship with one another. The tree is very "giving," and the boy evolves into a "taking" teenager, a middle-aged man, and finally an elderly man. Despite the fact that the boy ages in the story, the tree addresses the boy as "Boy" his entire life.

In his childhood, the boy enjoys playing with the tree, climbing its trunk, swinging from its branches, carving "Me + T (Tree)" into the bark, and eating its apples. However, as the boy grows older, he spends less time with the tree and tends to visit it only when he wants material items at various stages of his life, or not coming to the tree alone (such as bringing a lady friend to the tree and carving "Me +Y.L." (her initials, often assumed to be an acronym for "young love") into the tree). In an effort to make the boy happy at each of these stages, the tree gives him parts of itself, which he can transform into material items, such as money (from its apples), a house (from its branches), and a boat (from its trunk). With every stage of giving, "the Tree was happy."

In the final pages, both the tree and the boy feel the sting of their respective "giving" and "taking" nature. When only a stump remains for the tree (including the carving "Me + T"), it is not happy, at least at that moment. The boy returns as a tired elderly man to meet the tree once more. It tells him it is sad because it cannot provide him shade, apples, or any materials like in the past. He ignores this (because his teeth are too weak for apples, and he is too old to swing on branches and too tired to climb her trunk) and states that all he wants is "a quiet place to sit and rest," which the tree, who is weak being just a stump, could provide. With this final stage of giving, "the Tree was happy."

As you can see, the moral of the story is to be a giver rather than a taker, and this is an important lesson to include in an onboarding overview. If you want a positive corporate culture with long-term positive, happy, and talented employees, consider adding this book to your must-read list for all employees!

Image Credit: Amazon.

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