Isolation. Disruption. Challenges. Change. That pretty much describes life these days; the thought of more to come—and more will—can be frightening, even paralyzing. But upheaval brings about innovation, and we wouldn’t have the lives or businesses we do without it. Accepting change, or even inviting/pursuing it, might be the key to surviving turbulent times. Finding the right support helps, too.
As small business owners struggle with the developing “new normal,” there are some who can count on NEWaukee, a self-described social architecture agency, to guide them through changing times. In fact, NEWaukee has ten years of experience promulgating change and developing communities in social, civic and professional arenas.
While isolation in the workplace—especially with so many working from home—is getting lots of attention lately, it’s nothing new to NEWaukee. In fact, they could be considered experts in mitigating the remoteness or detachment many new employees feel when starting a job. NEWaukee is adept in helping small businesses “disrupt their engagement model” and create a long-lasting bond with staff and the community at large.
Having briefly met Jeremy Fojut, a NEWaukee Co-founder and its Chief Ideas Officer, on a recent Zoom meetup, he was gracious enough to give me a short interview so I could learn a bit more about the agency. Its team of nine obviously very creative people are involved in so much—all focused on connecting people with places, such as neighborhoods, communities, the Greater Milwaukee area, businesses and jobs.
At the bottom of this article I’ll list some of their programs, initiatives and events that make them so right, so necessary, for our times. Of course, I’ll also encourage you to visit NEWaukee’s website to learn more about it and engage with their team in some form or fashion. In the meantime, let me share with you some of my discussion with Jeremy. His comments will get you thinking, inspired, and, hopefully, ready for a new mindset.
Positive Initial Experiences for New Hires Are Critical Is it possible for a group of 100 people to be out produced by a team of 5? You bet. “You see that all the time in the startup world,” said Jeremy. “It happens,” he added, “because the team feels like they belong and are connected to the mission and vision of the company.”
He likened workplace environments to neighborhoods. “Everybody there has their territory, the property where they live. Everybody has what they do and how they contribute to the community. So, if we can foster more community and connection, it could lead to more belonging inside these companies,” Jeremy said.
Using different programs and initiatives, NEWaukee works with businesses to improve their new employee onboarding integration. During the process, businesses are encouraged to see themselves as communities and to understand that people in the workplace who feel more connected to their coworkers and feel a part of something do better work and are more productive.
They are also able to understand the organizations’ goals and missions, as well as able to make better decisions. Jeremy mentioned something very important for small business owners to keep in mind. He said, “At the core, the smaller you are, the more important onboarding integration is. Everybody is on the same page because you have fewer people to depend upon.”
Disrupting the Engagement Role
There are different ways businesses try to engage their employees, clients and surrounding communities. Many times, these customer experiences don’t work. Or, at the very least, they look and feel like so many other customer experiences, making it harder to stand apart from competitors. Jeremy explained with this analogy:
There are a lot of banks everywhere. If you talk to any bank and ask them what’s the difference between their bank and other banks, the answer is “service.” At the end of the day, that means a person-to-person relationship and not everybody in the bank is the same. It’s hard to measure and manage.
Many banks offer the very same low interest rates, no ATM fees, cash back rewards, etc. If the competitor is doing it, then all other banks think they must provide them, as well.
Furthermore, banks are spending millions of dollars building branches, adding lounges with coffee and developing staff. Why build when people don’t use branches as often as they used to? Who really wants to relax and sip coffee in a bank lobby? Why build more locations when everything is going digital? How do bank employees fit in? How are banks engaging with the future careers of their employees?
There’s a lot of room for disrupting the way banks currently engage their community. It’s not advertising to the community with billboard, radio and social media ads; it is building a real community around the brand.
For businesses looking to really differentiate themselves, NEWaukee has a process. Said Jeremy, “It really involves reflecting and reimagining how things can be done.”
The first few steps include identifying who can make changes within the organization and then putting that person(s) in a room with others where they focus on all the things they’re doing around a specific goal. The NEWaukee team has a list of about 25 questions they ask the group to reflect upon.
There might be microchanges in the organization at first. Perhaps some successful things that worked well in the past are rebooted. Then, Jeremy explained, “As you go through the process of repurposing things, we get to the more—I guess some people would say—‘radical stuff.’” That just might include reinventing the wheel, which is where innovation comes from. “If you continue to do what you’ve always done or what your competitors are doing,” Jeremy asked, “how, then, are you going to be different from everybody else?” Innovation comes from what nobody else is doing.
Throughout NEWaukee’s process, they move their clients toward a different mindset, which brings about the change. Summer 2020 is here and with it is more change at one time than any of us could have imagined. How is your business coping? Are you and your staff brainstorming fresh ideas to set you all up for success? What are some of the stumbling blocks? Apart from pandemic-induced changes, what other challenges have you been contemplating lately? Is there something that needs addressing but you don’t feel prepared to takeit on? Don’t have the time to tackle it? Eager to see what opportunities are awaiting you and your team if only you had the right support, the best tools, the proper format?
You know, of course, that I suggest you contact NEWaukee.
Before you do, take a look at something. It’s the list I promised earlier, a condensed version of the agency’s many services—everything from events, consulting, job network and recruiting. They also offer a wealth of opportunities for small businesses (such as restaurants, bars, caterers and unique venues). You won’t know about any of this unless you click on at least one of the links below: