Your Company’s Soul: The secret to higher engagement, retention, and profitability

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records stack over wooden table and vintage light leaks  filtereI love soul music. That eclectic blend of styles like gospel, rhythm and blues, jazz.  I love the way it gets you to move, to interact, to get up and dance.

It says something.

You feel something when you hear it.

Recently, we’re hearing a lot about the importance of ‘soul’ to organizational success.

And no wonder. According to Deloitte’s 2015 Global Human Capital Trends report, candidates today aren’t looking for a career. They are looking for an experience.

With 50% of the workforce populated by experience seeking Millenials, that’s not so surprising.

What is surprising is how many companies haven’t caught up yet.

A couple of weeks ago, I met with the Managing Partner of an advertising agency in Southern California. He had some major issues he was dealing with; talent turnover topping 65%, unhappy clients, and a team working long hours and flaming out fast.

I listened to what he had to say but he really didn’t have to tell me. I had waited outside his office for a good twenty minutes before he could see me and what I heard told the story.

It was silent. Deadly silent.

In a creative industry when there is no buzz, no interaction, no noise enveloping the space, there’s a problem.

Nothing was inspiring his team to get up and move.

That place didn’t have a soul.

And without it, you lose engagement, retention, client satisfaction, and long term profitability. And he was experiencing all of that.

According to Deloitte, if you have the soul experience you can count on 8x higher returns than s&P 400 companies.

So how do you put a little bit of soul into your organization?

The same way soul music does it. With some creativity, improvisation, and a shared expression.


Two thirds of employees surveyed say that they want to be creative in their jobs. Allowing people to tap into what they naturally do best and exploring where that can take them and the organization is a fast track to internal motivation. That’s an experience that today’s workforce, particularly Millenials, are seeking out.


Soul music comes in many forms. Some is funky, some is slick, some is politically driven. Creating a great company soul does the same thing. Forget about one size fits all goal setting, and work spaces, and traditional paths to success. The more you can build extemporaneous flexibility into your organization, the more adept you will be at developing a thriving environment. And the more input you let your people have in creating that flexibility, the more high performance results you will see.


According to Deloitte, 95% of candidates believe that culture is more important than compensation. If you’re a traditionalist, you may question that number or even scoff at it, but in an experience hungry world, the heightened importance of a culture that is driven by a shared meaning and pride is undeniable. Know what you stand for and really mean it. Live, breathe, and defend rigorously that driving force.  If you don’t plaster it on the walls, develop processes around it, and celebrate it every day, you’ll lose the pride element.

Express it daily.

It’s that shared pride is what will drive soul.

And that soul will create an irresistible experience.

In the words of the great soul singer Sam Cooke, ‘a change is gonna come.’

What are you doing to get ready?


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Sandi Coryell
Keynote Speaker and Leadership Consultant Sandi Coryell works with leaders who want to bring out the best in their teams and themselves so that they can improve their creativity, teamwork, and bottom line. For Speaking or Consulting inquiries, please contact Sandi at 818-288-3483 or email at

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