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Organizational culture research points to significant financial benefits for companies that invest in giving. In his article for Harvard Business Review, “In the Company of Givers and Takers,” Adam Grant, Professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, states that “higher rates of giving were predictive of higher unit profitability, productivity, efficiency, and customer satisfaction, along with lower costs and turnover rates. When employees act like givers, they facilitate efficient problem solving and coordination and build cohesive, supportive cultures that appeal to customers, suppliers, and top talent alike.”

So why aren’t more companies investing in creating cultures of givers? One answer is simply that they don’t know how.

At limeSHIFT, we believe that companies could realize these benefits by engaging employees through art. As a business, we use a co-creative art process to build culture and community, instigate and manage change within organizations, and transform spaces and people.

Part of our inspiration comes from research in psychology and social behavior. Earlier this year, Professors Paul Piff from University of California Irvine and Dacher Keltner from University of California Berkeley discussed their recent findings in a New York Times piece called “Why Do We Experience Awe?” They concluded that “awe helps bind us to others, motivating us to act in collaborative ways that enable strong groups and cohesive communities… We found that participants who reported experiencing more awe in their lives, who felt more regular wonder and beauty in the world around them, were more generous to the stranger.” Professors Piff and Keltner argue further that we live in an “awe-deprived” culture with less time spent outdoors enjoying nature and lower attendance at arts events (theater, live music, museums, etc.).

Following the logic, we see that awe leads to generosity and generosity leads to higher profitability. How then, can companies create lasting feelings of awe to capitalize on the benefits?

limeSHIFT aims to transform spaces into works of art that offer visual representations of culture. The art, co-created with employees, enables them to realize their connection to the broader community and connect to the higher purpose of the company. We believe that art can be used as a powerful tool to inspire lasting change and help organizations better engage their employees and community.

We are currently working with our first client, Life is Good, a retail company based in Boston. In our first meeting with co-founders Bert and John Jacobs, they passionately expressed a desire to spread optimism not only to their internal employees, but also to their external audience. They envision creating a community of optimists using their products as a vehicle for their messaging. Our job was to create community-inspired art that would inspire Life is Good’s employees to spread optimism externally. As part of our project, our artist and co-founder, Yazmany Arboleda, created a piece entitled electricJOY (more here and here), named in recognition of The Life is Good Kids Foundation, with and for the employees of the company.

electricJOY is a daily reminder to employees of their collective nature. It celebrates the people at the organization and creates beauty within the office on a personal level. It is an insertion of awe into the office to inspire and create a giving workforce for the greater good of the company’s internal and external communities as well as, potentially increase its profits.

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