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Jenn Lim on The Great Awakening

Jessica Welch
Thursday, Oct 21, 2021

The Great Resignation or the Great Awakening?

Reframing ideas around company culture for better retention and happier employees

In the last year, there have been record-highs in people leaving their jobs. Some are taking better offers, but most are leaving with no plan, no job lined up, no return to the workforce in sight. They simply felt a need to remove themselves from a situation that was making them perpetually unhappy. 

You’ve read about this across news outlets under the looming headline “The Great Resignation.” In August of this year alone, 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs. In part, it seems that some of these resignations are stemming from the robust job pool that has opened up after the mass layoffs of the early pandemic days. But, we spoke to someone who sees it as more than a bid for a higher salary. 

To dive deeper into the latest trends in workplace culture and the impactful changes we’ve witnessed over the last year we turned to CEO and Chief Humanity Officer at Delivering Happiness Jenn Lim in an interview hosted by our very own Stephen Kirkpatrick. Jenn has led the transition in workplace culture over the last decade from productivity-focused to people-focused. She created the first Culture Books for Zappos.com which served as a catalyst across industries to help build more humane and happy companies. And while she focuses on people, her work in the behind-the-scenes company culture actually creates higher ROIs and more productivity for companies as well. 

In her new book, Beyond Happiness: How Authentic Leaders Prioritize Purpose and People for Growth and Impact, she sets the stage for the next wave of workplace culture. After years of speaking to companies around the globe and designing methods to help people achieve workplace happiness, she sees the next step is to propagate this happiness beyond ourselves and help others share their purpose and value with humanity. This mindset shift is mirrored in her title change from Chief Happiness Officer to Chief Humanity Officer. In this new climate, Jenn can see that happiness has its role and still holds great importance, but there is a need to move beyond ourselves and focus on the humanity of the world and our employees.

If this sounds like a daunting task, don’t worry. Jenn’s new book, along with her keynote speaking and workshops, can help you break this down to create the meaningful purpose that our talent pool as a collective seems to be searching for. 

Why They Left 

Although there are articles left and right discussing statistics and trends, Jenn believes the answer to this big question is simple: everyone wants to be treated like humans. While the lack of flexibility and the pressures to return to an unsafe office played their role in the mass resignations, the flip side is what Jenn calls the Great Awakening. 

During the pandemic all we had was time to reflect, to think about our values, our purpose. We thought about how we wanted to wake up every day and feel solid—what is important to us? And these reflections include the work-life that takes up a majority of our lives. Our sense of self in this incredibly interconnected world came to the forefront of our minds. Our role in this big world and its complicated issues became something we were constantly confronted with. And people wanted more than just a paycheck. 

How To Adapt 

In Jenn’s book she layouts sets of exercises to help you start the process of deeper reflection and use it to create a more meaningful company. 

The Wheel of Wholeness

The first step is to treat your employees like humans. This means your reviews with a team member shouldn’t be solely focused on metrics. Jenn introduces the idea of a Wheel of Wholeness, in which a circle is cut into slices and each slice represents a part of the person. You can have slices represent aspects of work, but you also want slices that address mental health, emotional well-being, relationships, finances, greater purpose, etc. 

Then have your teammates rate themselves on a scale of 1 to 10 to assess how well-rounded their lives are and how work fits into it. The goal isn’t to fix the areas that are lacking, but to hold a mirror to ourselves and evaluate our lives as a whole.

First Find Your Purpose

Jenn says creating a more meaningful company starts with leadership. Once the leaders fully explore themselves and their impact, the company will structure itself around these ideas. To find your purpose she asks three questions: 

What gets you incredibly enthusiastic or incredibly mad?
Extreme emotion is what we’re looking for. It will drive you.

What do people ask you to do without you offering? 
This is a great way to objectively assess your strengths. 

How can you inspire your team and the world?
Harnessing and combining the two elements above will help you inspire others. 

Determining Your Values

To take a step back and determine what really matters to you Jenn recommends an exercise that consolidates your life into 6 moments. Look at the 3 highest moments in your life and the 3 lowest moments in your life. What values were present? Who was present? What were you doing and how did you feel about it?

From those moments you should be able to extrapolate a set of values that carries you in the moments that matter. Now, it’s time to bring those into your everyday life. 

In Jenn’s words, “Let’s not let this good pandemic go to waste.” Find the positives in this upheaval of normalcy. Use the Great Awakening to restructure not only your company but yourself to help you find a deeper meaning in your work and in your life. 



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