Navigation mobile icon
Mobile navigation close window icon
Capabilities icon
what we do
Expand section icon
additional services to ask about:
talent strategy & development
employee engagement & retention
total rewards
change strategy & enablement

Yes, Your Nostalgia Is Valid. That Doesn't Mean It Belongs At Work.

As old paradigms fall by the wayside, how we shape corporate culture and do business altogether is transforming at breakneck speeds.

For close to two decades, I’ve been a summer camp counselor for kids ages 8-13. It’s long been one of the highlights of my summer. We’d take the kids on hikes, go canoeing, stargaze, do arts and crafts--typical camp stuff that fosters personal growth and an appreciation for nature.

One of our favorite activities was the annual end-of-summer dance for our oldest kids. Before sending them home, we’d pack the middle school campers into the lodge and watch as they found the courage to just have a good time dancing together. 

Until five years ago, camp had an unspoken policy regarding slow dances: If one kid asked another to dance, they weren’t allowed to say no—a rule created to protect the self-esteem and feelings of the asker.

But times change, and so should the rules. Eventually my fellow staffers and I realized that letting kids respectfully decline a dance was as important as trying to avoid hurt feelings, and so the rule was changed.

While I knew discontinuing the “no saying no” policy was warranted, I felt a twinge of sadness. I’ve been a 13-year-old kid before, and having been rejected a few times myself, I understood how detrimental rejection can be to a child’s development. I realized that the now-repealed rule had made me nostalgic--but that didn't mean the rule should remain.

Our Work Culture Is Changing

Cultural norms change frequently, and corporate culture is no exception. As old paradigms fall by the wayside, how we shape workplace culture and conduct business is transforming at breakneck speeds.

Consider the accelerating emphasis on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB). While 60 years ago, a company with a DEIB policy in its employee handbook was a rare find, today DEIB is widely accepted as an integral cornerstone of corporate culture. Employees of organizations that commit to DEIB are more likely to report a sense of pride, engagement and enjoyment at work--far from the case even just three decades ago.

Meanwhile, the digitization sweeping across industries is happening so fast that upskilling employees has become increasingly challenging. Thanks to catalysts such as Industry 4.0 and the global pandemic, our innovation has quickly outpaced our ability to adapt. 

So how does nostalgia tie into all this? 

More and more, I’ve noticed notes of nostalgia in conversations about workplace transformations. Some people long for the days they’d pick up the phone instead of firing off an email. Others reminisce about having business meetings a few years ago at a restaurant versus on Zoom. But what to do when some miss the days when employees could make (insensitive) jokes without worrying about consequences?

In the face of huge upheavals, people often turn to nostalgia to cope, but when does nostalgia become a form of resistance? 

To me, nostalgia is an integral part of a person’s identity, and therefore a valid emotion--a way to connect past contributions to our modern working world. But does nostalgia also have an adverse effect on our ability to adapt?

How Nostalgia Affects Our Attitude Toward Change

Nostalgia is actually a powerful psychological phenomenon. When leveraged correctly, it can ease stress, cultivates psychological resilience, and inspire. 

But when left unchecked,I’ve seen it become a pronounced rebellion against the present, and that’s when it hinders the progress of individuals and organizations.

Racism, sexism, homophobia, and other institutionalized human rights violations have played--and still play--a role in inhibiting growth and advancement. When nostalgia creates a longing fora past when colleagues could tell jokes that might well get them fired today, or sexually harass staff members without consequence, is when we cross over into resistance.

It’s not all black and white--which is why it’s important for managers to take employees’ backgrounds into consideration when dealing with problematic nostalgic comments. No one can help the time they grew up in. Most of us aren’t immune to a walk down memory lane--but when it comes to positive, progressive change, we can’t let it interfere.

Looking Back, Moving Forward

In the midst of a global pandemic and societal upheavals, it’s never been clearer that we have a responsibility to make the world a better place, and do our part to inspire and implement meaningful change. We can leverage nostalgia as the driving force for motivation and meaning, but we have to move past our old ways to forge a better future. 

Nostalgia shouldn’t dictate behaviors at work—just like my old summer camp shouldn’t tell the kids they can’t say no to hopeful dance partners. Do we want to stay stuck in the past, or continue forging fresh paths to newer and better frontiers ahead? 

The future is fast approaching--how we shape it is up to us. 


No items found.

more insights

subscribe

Subscribe to our newsletter for regular insight and news

Our Latest White Paper!
Human Led, AI Assisted
Uniting Artificial and Human Intelligence to Combat Bias in Hiring
Download Today

more insight

How to Execute an Effective Total Rewards Program In 3 Simple Steps

Current workforce realities such as competing job opportunities and The Great Resignation make Total Rewards programs vital for attracting and retaining talent. Here’s how companies can do it right.

Read More >>
As Right-to-Disconnect Laws Hit Europe, Will U.S. Follow Suit?

Over the last five years, there’s been an increasing focus on laws centered around digital protections and worker’s rights, specifically the “right to disconnect.”

Read More >>
Many Companies Are Saving Incredible Amounts of Cash During the Pandemic. Where Is It Going?

By downsizing or giving up office space altogether, companies can—and should—redirect money to their employees in meaningful ways. Here's how.

Read More >>
AI & Recruiting: Leveraging Artificial Intelligence While Avoiding Bias

As employers contend with the Great Resignation, the use of artificial intelligence for talent acquisition is more important than ever.

Read More >>
Fear Drives More People at Work Than You Think. Let's Change That.

No matter how scary the prospect, striving to achieve your career goals will always yield better results than staying stuck and afraid.

Read More >>
Lack of Digital Adoption Is Becoming More Common in the Workforce, and That's Problematic

When employees fail to understand or properly utilize important tech tools in the workplace, it can have far-reaching implications and may even impact an organization’s bottom line.

Read More >>
AI Recruiting Tools May Be the Future, But Proceed With Caution

AI recruitment tools--while incredibly useful--can also introduce bias. What can companies do to ensure they increase efficiency without harming equity?

Read More >>
How Companies Can Leverage AI Recruiting to Increase Representation in Hiring

A range of approaches to designing and utilizing AI can actually help diversity hiring.

Read More >>
I Use This One Tool to Get 125% More Done

We're trending towards longer and longer work days--but by embracing a decision-making ideology and a task management tool, we don't have to.

Read More >>
New Hires Weigh In: How Do You Survive The Working World?

Navigating a new job is hard--and managing its ups and downs as a new hire during a pandemic is arguably even harder.

Read More >>
Stress Is Rewiring Our Brains. Can Training Like Navy SEALs Help Combat It?

While few employees are running miles in combat boots, mentally training like the elite military unit may help us reclaim our brains from stress.

Read More >>
Working From Home Has Changed Your Brain and Body. Here’s How.

The virtual workspace isn’t going away. Here’s how WFH is affecting us — and how these changes could reshape the workforce as we know it.

Read More >>
The Life of an HR Executive: a Roundtable Discussion

Human Resources executives are central to the success of an organization, setting the tone for how employees can contribute and thrive. Here, a few industry leaders share their insights.

Read More >>
The Ahmaud Arbery Trial's Social Justice Ramifications Affect Companies and Their Employees. Here's How.

Processing emotionally charged events can impact people in ways that are difficult to manage. What can be done to support them?

Read More >>
Artificial Intelligence Is Shaping the Workforce in Ways You've Never Imagined

From cobots that collaborate with humans to HoloLens, a wearable holographic computer, AI is no longer science fiction.

Read More >>
Yes, Your Nostalgia Is Valid. That Doesn't Mean It Belongs At Work.

As old paradigms fall by the wayside, how we shape corporate culture and do business altogether is transforming at breakneck speeds.

Read More >>
How the LGBTQ+ Movement is Dismantling the Gender Binary System

Uniqueness of identification has grown and blossomed into a spectrum of diversity, challenging the way companies think about DEIB.

Read More >>
The Big Quit: How Burnout Is Reshaping the Workforce

A number of complex forces are steering people away from the workforce, but arguably the most common one is burnout.

Read More >>
Is the 5-Hour Workday the Answer to All Our Problems?

Of all the theories that aim to engender better work-life balance, the five-hour workday is one of the most compelling.

Read More >>
Why You're Probably Using the Word "Strategy" Incorrectly

Just because you say you're operating strategically doesn't mean your plan is strategic.

Read More >>
No, You Can’t Always Just “Be Yourself” At Work. Here’s Why. 

Yes, “be yourself” is definitely sound advice--and these days, employers are known to tell their employees the same thing. But there are limits.

Read More >>
Is Fear a Barrier to Inclusion & Belonging? Why Companies Balk at Action

DEIB programs are surging across the American workplace. Why are some employers still not taking action?

Read More >>
Speed vs. Quality: The Timeless Dilemma

It's not always easy to know when to prioritize speed vs. quality in business. There may be more than one right answer.

Read More >>
Intent vs. Impact: The Communication Disconnect

Your words often don't have the impact you intend them to--which can be problematic, especially in the workplace.

Read More >>
Feedback Doesn't Have to be Scary

Giving and receiving valuable feedback isn't always an easy task. Here are some insights to help you along the way.

Read More >>
Does Unlimited PTO Work?

Unlimited PTO sounds like a dream come true. Is it here to stay, or just the flavor of the week?

Read More >>
Embracing Neurodiversity in the Workplace: A Webinar

Join us for a dynamic discussion with neurodiversity experts on the benefits of employing a diverse team.

Read More >>
Lessons in Biases from the Olympics

Our biases manifest everywhere--and even during our most celebrated and joyous traditions, they can leave an impact.

Read More >>
A New Norm? Exploring the Four-Day Workweek

Are we truly our most productive when we work five days a week? Recent studies suggest otherwise.

Read More >>
Reflections on LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Corporate America

For Pride Month 2021, Enspira interviewed two pioneers in the LGBTQ+ business community who continue to inspire change.

Read More >>
How to Address & Support Mental Health

Chances are we all know someone who's struggling with unspoken issues. Here's  how to recognize it, thoughtfully reach out, and help.

Read More >>
Four Steps to Cultivating Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging

If we want to see real, sustainable change, we all must continue to acknowledge and celebrate diversity in the workplace.

Read More >>
Caregivers: Working Women in a Pandemic

The raging pandemic has pushed people beyond reasonable limits, and has adversely affected women disproportionately.

Read More >>
Propelling Gender & Racial Equity in STEM

The world is facing monumental challenges in the time of COVID-19, widening existing gaps in racial and gender equity.

Read More >>
Your frontline managers’ capability & effectiveness matters now more than ever. Here’s what you need.

It’s now more important than ever to ensure your organization has strong people manager capability and effectiveness.

Read More >>
Disrupting Your Workplace Culture with “The 3 Bs of Belonging”

How inclusive is your organization? Simply checking the representation boxes and creating policies isn't enough.

Read More >>

explore our offerings & capabilities

additional services

Hand holding plant icon

talent strategy & development

Creating innovative talent management strategies to help build and retain a world-class workforce.

Hand shake icon

employee engagement & retention

Developing comprehensive employee engagement and retention strategies to improve productivity, reduce turnover, and foster innovation.

Gift box icon

total rewards analysis

Identifying optimal combinations of benefits, compensation, rewards, and recognition to enhance employee engagement and performance.

Potted plan icon

change strategy & enablement

Guiding organizations through complex and challenging evolutions to keep employees engaged throughout the journey.

Project development on a desk

Enspira reimagines and revolutionizes the human-work experience with innovative HR solutions that put the power of business purpose in the hands of your people.

contact us
No items found.