High-quality talent will not stay at your company if they are not treated with respect and appreciation.
Generic Company Band-Aid Solution:
Let’s have a happy hour.
The REAL Deal:
Employee/team appreciation is not a one-and-done action. It’s embedded in a company’s inner fibers. A kitchen could look beautiful on the surface, but if the plumbing, gas, and electric aren’t in prime condition and working well together, nothing delicious will emerge…. So, let’s get into the nuts and bolts of company culture, shall we?
Building a Company Culture
Foundations: Value Alignment
A company’s mission needs to be embraced and lived by its employees. It may seem like everything is sunshine and rainbows when an automotive repair shop says “trust” is a company value, but how are they proving it? The proof lies in the company culture. If leaders are engaging in sketchy behavior toward employees and customers, who’s to say that it’s not transferring to inter-team and customer relationships?
All team members should be aware of and align with a company’s values to keep everyone working toward the same goal(s). HubSpot names some companies that are following their set of inspirational values (Forsey, Blog.Hubspot.com). Team members, also, have different ways of comprehending and enacting the values. It’s good for people to personalize the way they live those company values, as long as everyone is heading in a positive direction.
People have different needs from the company and their colleagues. For example, some team members thrive on meaningful connections, while others place a high value on a structured work day. Everyone brings their own experiences, passions, skills, etc. to the table. Honoring and respecting that must be instilled in company culture for success.
For example, let’s say you have two children. One is highly sensitive, while the other is strong-willed. When the sensitive child spills milk on the carpet, raising your voice for emphasis will likely yield a puddle of tears and a child that isn’t able to absorb your message. Then, let’s say the strong-willed child failed a test because they were too confident to study. A smooth, gentle message might not be heard in a way that will instill the value of hard-work.
Respecting team members is similar. Doing exercises that develop team awareness can help people learn about each other. There are companies like The Comvia Group that help teams develop team members learn about themselves and their teammates for better communication and workflow. Through different assessments, team members can step back and appreciate each other’s differences and strengths from a new lens.
Civility Funnels Down
There’s an episode of the original How I Met Your Mother called “The Chain of Screaming”. If you don’t already know it, here’s a summary: Basically, a frustrated boss yells at an employee. That employee, unable to yell at the boss, takes their frustration out on someone else… and the chain builds… one-by-one… creating a series of unnecessary screaming matches.
Why is this important?
Civility funnels downward in a company. Christine Porath in Harvard Business Review sums it up nicely:
“One of the most crucial things for a manager to do, of course, is to model the right behavior. You set the tone. Even if you establish expectations, define what civility means on your team, give people training and coaching, you can’t expect employees to treat one another with respect, if you don’t” (HBR.org).
Leadership has the responsibility of setting a tone. While everyone is human, let’s all avoid the real-life “chain of screaming” and funnel down positive attributes instead.
Benefits for Everyone!
The question that may be popping up in your mind is: What’s the benefit for the company? Besides the reward of a happy team, a company based on positive values can foster more efficient, engaged employees. Paul Meshanko, CEO of Legacy Business Cultures, in EHS Today supports this on a neurological level:
“…when leaders create work environments that consistently value, esteem and nurture their employees, it triggers a collective brain chemistry rich in the neurotransmitters serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine. In addition to enhancing focus, collaboration and resilience, the presence of these compounds correlate with higher levels of employee engagement” (47).
Amid the Great Resignation, companies can’t afford to lose top talent. In LinkedIn’s latest report on global talent trends, we see that employees want workplaces rooted in work-life balance, well-being, and flexibility (Business.Linkedin.com). We are entering an era of human-centric company culture, and companies need to adapt to keep quality talent.
For leaders looking for inspiration on company benefits, read our fun Benefits & Beyond blog!
Now, let’s have a little fun!
Okay, we got some core groundwork on the table. It’s time to add some fun into the mix. Hybrid and remote teams must jump over new obstacles to host team events. Our team has been experimenting since early 2021 and here are some ideas we enjoy:
- Every week, we host a meeting where we can get to know each other better.
- Kumo Space is a great platform for this. It’s a platform where users can set an avatar for themselves and move around a virtual office space. We normally pick a topic (like “favorite candy” or “first job”) and sign on with a picture of our response. Then, we take turns guessing who is who. (See some of our favorites here!)
- This lets your team show a playful side. A little friendly competition always adds fun into the day!
- Team Jenga!
- Our team did this over video call. Each of us had our own sets and took turns taking a block from our towers. It got competitive very fast!
- Creation Extravaganzas!
- We’ve had play-doh, gingerbread house, and cookie-decorating extravaganzas. It’s fun to see where people’s creativity lead them!
- “Field Trips”
- Setting up excursions is always fun, especially if your team is closer together. Whether it’s lunch or a day on the boardwalk, it’s great bonding!
- Shout-Out Boards
- We use a Microsoft Whiteboard to post compliments and shout-outs to team members. This has helped boost morale and support while working remotely. We even do Happy Birthday boards!
The Choice is Yours
You can choose where you work and how you work. Everyone has the opportunity to make another person’s day a little brighter. Companies have the same opportunity. By thoughtfully building a positive company culture infused with team appreciation, a company can create fulfilling roles and, hopefully, happier people.