The Complete Guide to the Eight Factors of a Flourishing Workplace
What does it mean to have a flourishing culture?
It’s easy to recognize a flourishing workplace. It is a culture of growing mutual trust, transparency and unity. Top to bottom, it’s a culture where people look forward to coming to work every day because they feel so engaged. It’s a culture where everyone is working together because they not only believe in the organization’s mission, they believe in each other.
A flourishing workplace is one that is healthy, full of life, productive, and spills over into other domains of our lives and beyond. But how does an organization achieve this coveted status of flourishing?
The 8 Drivers of Engagement
We often hear from leaders, “what should I focus on that will motivate employees to go beyond expectations, remain with our organizations in the face of competition, and enable positive attitudes?”
In efforts to answer this question, we developed a model to statistically define the dimensions of a flourishing workplace and help organizations discover where they fall on the spectrum. Leaders are able to assess the health of their organization based on these characteristics through an Employee Engagement Survey.
This model has 8 characteristics that contribute to an engaged workplace, spelling out the acronym FLOURISH. These characteristics/drivers are:
Fantastic Teams- Learn More
Lifegiving work- Learn More
Outstanding talent- Learn More
Uplifting growth- Learn More
Rewarding compensation- Learn More
Inspirational leadership- Learn More
Sustainable strategy- Learn More
Healthy communication- Learn More
Each of these eight essentials has a quantifiable outcome. Objective measures of a healthy, flourishing culture are not only possible, but they’re also absolutely essential for any ministry organization that wants to be the best in their workplace, ministry effectiveness, and kingdom impact.
Some of the characteristics are more directly related to business-like approaches that are fairly technical and results-oriented, while others will focus more on what we can do to grow as Christ-centered leaders that demonstrate honesty, authenticity, and compassion in our leadership.
Fantastic teams are those that are effective, engage in passionate dialogue around issues, resolve conflict, and strive for excellence in what they do. They are competent in their work areas and across department lines.
Fantastic teams exemplify a spirit of partnership and collaboration. A flourishing culture is not about “me” but rather, it’s all about “we.”
Fantastic Teams have
- Goals with specific ends, but not means
- Access to expert coaching
- Clearly defined roles
- Frequent interactions with other team members
- Structure reflection following meetings, completion of tasks, etc
A Story of Impact
We worked with a non-profit struggling across the board with employee engagement, including teamwork. We suggested focus groups to dive deeper into what changes employees wanted to see to raise each individual’s ability to contribute to their fullest.
This organization came up with 21 suggested changes and then took accountability by creating a shared document, listing out common goals for each of the 21 suggested changes for the coming years, and which team would work on which goal and post weekly progress.
Each team could see how they played a part in the organization’s overall improvement. In doing so, they saw how they depended on each other. Through this coordinated effort, they supercharged their cross-departmental teamwork and produced the single highest-ever one-year improvement in engagement.
Knowing the goals, depending on each other for excellence, and keeping their targeted finish lines in constant view were keys for their success. That’s what makes Fantastic Teams.
Keep Learning about Fantastic Teams
- 6 Valuable Steps to Building Fantastic Teams
- Season 3 Episode 44: Getting Rid of Silos: The Power of Fully Integrated Teams // Doug Mazza, Joni and Friends
- 5 Traits of a Spiritually Health Team
Life-Giving Work is defined as work that is full of meaning and has significance or purpose. Work is life-giving when employee’s skills and spiritual gifts are leveraged in a way that gives energy.
Additionally, work is inspirational when staff are devoted to their role, are able to utilize their skills and spiritual gifts to their fullest, and as a result love working in the organization.
Managers and organizations can enable Life-Giving Work by
- Knowing your employee’s strengths
- Enabling Autonomy and Space for Creativity
- Enabling Flow in Your Department
Our job as Christian leaders is to help our teams unlock their God-given gifts and talents and structure those around roles and tasks. When employees feel that they are contributing in a unique way and are given the freedom to craft their roles, a flow state is reached and creativity soars!
A Story of Impact
A great example of Life-Giving work is Hope International, which serves to invest in the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities as we proclaim and live the Gospel. Hope International has infused its people with deepening satisfaction of their own work by training staff to tell some of the organization’s life-changing stories.
A synonym for Life-Giving Work” is ‘fun,’ which Hope International has helped instill through the simple joy of a ping-pong table at work that builds camaraderie.
See how Hope International maintains mission through ministry growth in this episode of the Flourishing Culture podcast.
Keep Learning about Life-Giving Work
- Season 2 Episode 19: How To Create Core Values That Work // Doug Sauder, Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale
- Season 2 Episode 20: A Healthy Life Balance: Does It Matter? // Dave Ferguson, Community Christian Church
Flourishing organizations recruit and retain high-quality talent, promote those who are most capable and reward their top performers. Outstanding Talent means having and keeping highly qualified people with the necessary calling, character, competence, chemistry, and contribution to achieving the organization’s mission.
Outstanding Talent is critical to forging a Flourishing workplace culture because organizational success is highly affected by the fit, experience, and giftings of the people it attracts, retains, rewards and ultimately promotes into key technical and leadership roles.
At the heart of Outstanding Talent is getting the right people in the door from the very beginning. Cutting-edge research in organizational psychology has shown the importance of taking selection to the next level with techniques such as rigorous job analysis (JA) and competency modeling (CM).
Learn more about how these techniques play a part in Outstanding Talent by downloading the free 8 Factors of a Flourishing Culture whitepaper.
A Story of Impact
We worked with a large, urban, multi-site church with a wonderful reputation. The first of four essentials that make up Outstanding Talent is attracting great talent, and this church was able to knock it out of the park. Their “talent,” however, helped leadership see that they were less than satisfied with the other three essentials of rewarding, promoting and retaining talent. As a result, they were losing some of their best people.
Leaders were at a loss as to how to solve the problem of keeping talent at their smaller campuses, because promotions were unlikely, certainly in the short run.
We suggested each campus do a short anonymous survey to ask staff what it would take to keep their engaged and enthusiastic people. The three most common responses were:
- ‘I would like to work with my supervisor on a one-year development plan, so I can grow and learn.’
- ‘If I do a great job, I would like a specific recognition, a small reward-tied to my progress.’
- ‘I would like to see that there is a career path here and be given the opportunity to get on the path, if I’m willing to make the effort.’
It was easy for leaders to say ‘yes’ to this list, especially as this predominately millennial group of outstanding talent became even more engaged.
Keep learning about Outstanding Talent
- 3 Steps to Grow Outstanding Talent on your Leadership Team
- 5 Ways to Attract, Develop and Retain Outstanding Talent—And Improve Your Ministry
- Six Simple Steps to Keep the Best Talent in Your Organization
- Season 4 Episode 15: Outstanding Talent: Trust, Flexibility and Family First // Robert Bortins Jr., Classical Conversations
Uplifting Growth and Development
Uplifting Growth improves the performance of individuals, groups and the organization overall so they can meet the challenges of a changing world. Most significantly, growth comes from job-related experience, along with interaction with others (managers, mentors, and coaches), and from formal developmental events.
This element measures supervisory competence and compassion, the quality of performance feedback, recognition and the opportunity to learn and grow.
Uplifting Growth can occur on both the organizational level and the departmental level, depending on the size of the organization. Additionally, Uplifting Growth is facilitated through development opportunities and on the job training.
Managers can facilitate Uplifting Growth by
- Meeting with subordinates regularly
- Listening 75% of the time, and speaking 25% of the time
- Utilizing a 3:1 positive/negative feedback ratio
- Giving autonomy to subordinates
- Enabling competence through meaningful training opportunities
A Story of Impact
We began working with a large rescue mission who is making a terrific impact, but their employees were really struggling at the front line. Rescue mission work is amazingly challenging, and everyone needs to be primed and ready to serve some of the most hurting and struggling people in the nation.
Like many organizations, the mission’s front-line supervisors had been placed in their positions without training or preparation on how to grow and develop others. We worked with leadership to develop basic supervisor training, skills around communication, delegation, giving and receiving feedback. Employees were equipped with clear directions through accurate job descriptions, how to conduct performance reviews and even the keys to effective one-on-one meetings.
The turnaround was amazing. Employees showed their gratitude for their supervisors’ new abilities by giving them strong positive feedback on how they felt cared about as people with new role clarity.
Keep learning about Uplifting Growth
- Season 3 Episode 4: How Feedback Takes Your Organization Further // Mike Sharrow, C12
- 5 Ideas For Staff Development That Build Culture: “First Tuesdays” at Gateway Church
- Staff and Leadership Development Fuel Growth at CapinCrouse
Rewarding Compensation includes fair compensation and employee satisfaction with medical, retirement and paid-time-off benefits. These programs provide employees tangible resources in addition to their paycheck.
Fair and equitable total compensation plans provide peace of mind and satisfaction that an individual’s personal and financial needs are met. Rewarding compensation practices remind employees that they are respected and valued—all part of creating a flourishing workplace.
Developing a compensation plan that accomplishes the goals of Rewarding Compensation requires developing a compensation strategy and philosophy. Once that strategy and philosophy are designed, it’s important to communicate and be transparent with your team about the philosophy.
A Story of Impact
We learned that a 12-year client based in a fairly affluent region wasn’t paying competitive salaries to its staff. To their credit, they did a study, built a competitive salary structure and over the course of three years became competitive with their compensation packages. As a result, the organization reduced its turnover and retained top talent. Best of all they’ve now begun to experience the growth they initially envisioned.
Keep learning about Rewarding Compensation
- How to Develop a Compelling Rewards Package
- Season 3 Episode 45: Human Resources Can Improve Your Staff Culture // Chris Taylor, Seacoast Church
Inspirational Leaders measure the authenticity of a leaders’ Christian faith in action. Leadership is seen as credible when leaders demonstrate the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, live with integrity, exhibit humility and compassion, are transparent, and create high levels of trust in the organization.
Inspirational Leadership combines both Character and Competency. But, at its core, the essence of inspirational leadership lies within the relationship between the leader and Christ.
- Understand their attachments/idols
- Admit their weaknesses to God in prayer
- Ask God to lead, then take time to listen
- Understand their purpose
A Story of Impact
A national, non-profit organization had experienced back-to-back leadership “failures” and, as a result, was losing their clientele, talent, and funding. After surveying with BCWI, the new president gathered the staff together to solicit specific strategies for improvement. He made some key leadership changes, promoting leaders who typified the organization’s values and biblical servanthood.
Through it all, the president demonstrated consistent honesty, transparency, careful listening, humility, collaboration, and trustworthiness. In short, he modeled inspirational leadership. As a result, the staff became excited about the organization’s future, believing more in the mission and vision, and experience more fun at work.
Keep learning about Inspirational Leadership
- 3 Secrets to Being an Inspirational Leader
- Season 2 Episode 6: How To Be An Inspirational Leader // Al Lopus, BCWI President
- 7 Leadership truths that widen your scope of influence
Sustainable Strategy is the plan determined to achieve the organization’s vision and to provide a solution to meet the need the organization has set out to remedy. In flourishing cultures, a strategy is sustainable when it meets the needs of those the organization serves in a high-quality manner, and in a way that builds long-term relationships.
- setting goals,
- determining actions to achieve the goals, and
- allocating resources to execute the actions.
When a strategy is sustainable, there is consensus on the organizational goals and employee’s have buy-in. In fact, in a flourishing culture, it is not uncommon for staff to recommend their services to friends and family.
A core feature in Sustainable Strategy is the development and implementation of a strategic plan, which includes a vision, mission, core values, and goals and objectives. Learn more about how to create a strategic plan by downloading the free 8 Factors of a Flourishing Culture whitepaper.
A Story of Impact
There was a leadership team that was very mindful to measure their organization’s goals. The problem was, they didn’t communicate any of it with the staff. Thus, the employees didn’t see how their work was impacting and meeting the organization’s goals. Naturally, they couldn’t row in the same direction for the betterment of the organization and their own wellbeing.
Once leadership saw the value of sharing the organization’s goals and what was required of their staff to meet them, their people aligned creating a much more productive workplace.”
Keep learning about Sustainable Strategy
- 5 Commitments That Will Help You Develop Sustainable Strategy
- Season 4 Episode 31: Strategic Planning: A Clear Plan for Where You’re Going // Allan Kelsey, Gateway Church
- The 6 Step Model for Effective Strategic Planning
Healthy Communication is the purposeful exchange of information. When leaders involve employees, seek and act on their suggestions, explain the reasons behind decisions, and create an environment of open dialogue, health communication is fostered.
Lack of communication is perhaps the most frequently cited organizational problem. When done well, organizations with healthy communication practices value diversity and experience an environment of mutual accountability, innovation, and unity.
Communication can be conceptualized in three ways:
- Strategy — communicating clear goals, roles, responsibilities, and the reason behind actions; also includes receiving and acting on staff feedback
- Harmony restoration — when someone has been wronged in any way, or harm has been done, individuals talk about the situation and seek to come to a humble resolution,
- Adapting to various styles – being able to communicate in a way that speaks to individuals of various cultural backgrounds and personal styles
When leaders choose to improve communication practices, there is active communication and employee involvement. Communication is “real” when staff experience managers listening to their suggestions and act on them. Organizations with Healthy Communication are well run and achieve work/life balance.
A Story of Impact
BCWI recently worked with a Christian K-12 school whose turnaround story took the cake. Their “before” story was dreadful, as they were losing students and teachers, left and right. “Final decisions” were being made in a vacuum, without faculty and staff being consulted. Leadership was viewed as authoritarian, at best.
Fortunately, a gifted leader from a partnering ministry was invited in to listen and find out what faculty, staff and students needed. He formed action groups and gave them the authority to make decisions. He shared reasons for the decisions he needed to make and was very transparent and open about how the school was doing. Rather than pushing conflict out of situations, he welcomed challenges and pushbacks. He coached the existing leaders on being inclusive and servant leaders. And he made a difficult but important decision to change out one leader that couldn’t adjust.
As a result, employee engagement and communication increased, while student retention rose.
Keep learning about Healthy Communication
- How Healthy Communication Impacts Employee Engagement
- Season 4 Episode 36: Be the Best at Having Difficult Conversations // Sheila Heen, Triad Consulting Group
- How To Use Feedback to Strengthen Your Leadership
Creating a flourishing culture takes time and effort. Yet, be encouraged: Each of these factors is accessible and attainable for every organization that seeks to be more effective, productive and committed to being their best.
Long before we came on the scene, King Solomon had a few words to say about this: “Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds” (Prov. 27:23 NASB). Applying this wisdom to our workplaces means that we have a responsibility to pay attention to the people in our organizations and know what they need in order to flourish — as individuals and as teams.
We believe Christian organizations should set the standard as the best, most effective places to work in the world. We invite you to learn more about each of the eight factors and consider surveying as a way to assess the health of your organization
Are you ready to cultivate your flourishing culture? Discover the health of your organization using the Best Christian Workplaces Employee Engagement Survey.