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In addition to providing 28% of the oxygen we need to breathe, removing an estimated 711,000 metric tons of air pollution every year in the US alone, offering lovely shade under which to picnic, and trapping CO2 emissions to help cool our planet, we can learn how to improve employee engagement following the wisdom of trees. Considering The Great Exodus and that only 33% of U.S. employees reported being engaged at work (2023) and disengaged employees cost the global economy $7.8 trillion in productivity loss (2022), there are powerful reasons to emulate the intelligence of these long-lived relatives of ours.

So as you move through Q3 and engage in strategic planning for 2024, here are some regenerative business principles on how to improve employee engagement following the wisdom of trees:

Trees weather storms because of their deep roots.

Your values are your organization’s roots. What does your organization value? Where do you need more clarity of values? Do your team members feel and live out these values, and if not, why not? Where are there holes and/or misalignment in values?

  • Emulation: Like trees, establish strong roots in core values. Communicate and reinforce these values to create a sense of purpose and shared identity.
  • Impact: Values provide stability and guide decision-making, fostering a strong foundation for a positive workplace culture. They also create a deeper sense of purpose in your mission and vision.

Trees communicate in depth.

Through the mycorrhizal network, a great thread of funghi that wraps around and bores into tree roots, connecting individual plants together, trees send chemical, hormonal, and slow-pulsing electrical signals to share information and resources.

  • Emulation: Create platforms and systems that facilitate collaboration, open expression, and  feedback loops.
  • Impact: Being heard and feeling a sense of belonging and importance improves mental health, physical health, and creative problem solving and innovation.

Trees unfurl their leaves.

In other words, they are open and honest. One of the key principles of regenerative business is creating a culture where no energy is wasted. According to Harvard University psychologists Robert Kagan and Lisa Lahey “most people are doing a second job at work….spending time covering up their weaknesses,” pretending, and hiding.

  • Emulation: Be a model of vulnerability yourself, so you create a corporate culture where people feel safe, welcome, and encouraged  to explore, learn, and grow.
  • Impact: Watch how the newly-found extra energy turns into more inspired and productive colleagues and team members.

Trees know the power of inclusive diversity. Trees that grow alongside trees of other species are taller, wider and have more above-ground mass compared to those in areas with just one species. Do you see diversity as a box you have to check? Or do you actively strive to build diversity, knowing it is an essential ingredient for creating conditions conducive to long term success, health, and wellness for you and your organization. Diverse ecosystems are more resilient to environmental changes, have increased stability, and can better adapt to disturbances.

  • Emulation: Actively create diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging in the workplace, valuing different perspectives, backgrounds, and skills.
  • Impact: Inclusive diversity leads to a richer and more dynamic work environment, fostering innovation, creativity, and problem-solving, leading to a competitive edge in the marketplace.

Trees share nutrients.

Older trees support younger and more needy ones through a subterranean network of roots and mycorrhizal fungi that connect an estimated 90% of land plants. Whether for altruistic or selfish purposes, this network transmits nutrients and chemical and electrical signals that create conditions conducive to greater health and wellness in forest communities. Where can you share power and nutrients to support a team member who may need some support to grow and thrive?

  • Emulation: Trees, like leaders in the Regenerative Revolution, know that at a foundational level, we are all connected and improving strength in communications is always a good thing. Establish mentorship programs to support the growth and development of employees at all career stages.
  • Impact: Mentorship fosters a sense of community, facilitates knowledge transfer, and accelerates professional growth.

Trees continually adapt.

By adjusting to changes in climate, soil conditions, and other environmental factors, trees optimize for resource usage, reproduction, and long-term viability.

  • Emulation: Foster a growth mindset where employees see challenges as opportunities to learn and develop and ongoing learning and development opportunities to encourage innovation, adaptability, and flexibility.
  • Impact: Learning initiatives promote engagement, career advancement, and the acquisition of new skills, contributing to a dynamic culture and innovative creativity. And, an adaptable workforce is better equipped to navigate challenges, contributing to a positive and resilient workplace.

Trees work in flow with the seasons.

They hibernate in the winter and stop producing food that grows leaves so that they can then be ready to bloom in the spring. In between launches and projects, are you giving your team enough time to pause, reflect, rejuvenate, and get inspired to produce again? This process of regeneration exists in all systems that work effectively and productively.

  • Emulation: Trees bear fruits, flowers, and leaves as signs of health. Recognize and celebrate the seasons, literally in sync with nature, and also the flow of your launches, employee achievements, milestones, and contributions.
  • Impact: Recognizing the importance of cycles that include rest and regeneration after cold and hard winters, as well as acknowledgment of abundant blossoming and harvests, boosts morale, motivation, positive feelings, loyalty, and productivity.

Trees contribute to holistic well being, sustainability, and regeneration.

From mitigating climate change through carbon sequestration, to filtering out air pollutants, regulating water cycles, and sharing resources, trees provide safe habitats for many life forms and create a healthier and more resilient planet for current and future generations.

  • Emulation: Incorporate social and environmental stewardship at every level of your organization, from the C-Suite to your mission, vision, budget, and operating plan.
  • Impact: Socially responsible practices contribute to a positive corporate image and foster a sense of purpose among employees. By recognizing and leveraging the multifaceted contributions of trees, societies can promote sustainability, address environmental challenges, and

By emulating the wisdom of trees, organizations can cultivate a workplace culture that values interconnectedness, growth, and well-being. This approach improves employee health, wellness, and engagement, and contributes to the overall vibrancy and long-term success of the organization.

Inspired to learn more about how natural intelligence can create, support, and drive employee engagement and a healthy organizational ecosystem? Let’s talk!