Sacred Space as a Retention Tool

24 05 2016

“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.” ~Joseph Campbell

Google has a legendary concept at work called “20% time”.  This initiative was started by the founders, Page and Brin, in a memo that they sent out to the team stating “in addition to your regular projects, you are encouraged to spend 20% of your time working on what you think will most benefit Google.”  Now, some critics say it’s really 120% time, as they keep their employees plates full.  Other critics say that only a small percentage of Googlers are taking advantage of it.  Nevertheless, things like Google News, Gmail and AdSense were all products of this 20% time, so it’s not fictional, and not an insubstantial concept (how many of you have a Gmail account?).

Leaders, I’m not advocating for you to tell your employees that they can come in, but don’t have to work 1 day per week!  But I am encouraging you to let your team members find SOME “sacred space” in the workplace.  That might be letting those who voluntarily clean out the fridge on their own time do it on YOUR time.  It might mean letting the people who are always watering and tending the plants to do so as part of their duties.  It might mean that your employee who loves to work with spreadsheets is given some work that you might do yourself, because they might design it better, or give you a view of the data that you hadn’t thought about.  So, when the Key Performance Indicators permit (say, Friday afternoon in a slow call center), find ways to let your team members work on something that they enjoy, and are good at.  A little sacred space in the office might be the most important employee benefit towards retention of your best and brightest.

Speaking of space…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.




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