by Mary Timaeus
“Culture” is a bit of a buzzword for organizations right now, particularly for creative agencies. Leaders and HR managers throw the word around a lot, but based on the experiences the FoxFuel friends and members have had in other companies, most are missing the mark.
We’ve found that when talking about company culture, organizations focus on the perks – free coffee, afternoon cornhole games, people in furry mascot costumes passing out beer – and those things are great, in fact, we have most of them at FoxFuel (still working on the fox costume). But those aren’t the things that establish good culture. All the perks in the world can’t make up for a petty coworker, a disrespectful boss, or a lazy team. Good culture is not rooted in perks, it’s rooted in values. Trust, respect, encouragement, etc. – these are the things that will make the difference for a team.
Now these can also turn to buzzwords pretty quickly, so we have a few practical ways to put them into action and facilitate strong culture in your company:
Do small stuff often.
Go to lunch together on Fridays or do a one minute plank at 4 p.m. every day. Doing small things together makes the big things like retreats and holiday parties more comfortable and genuine. Think of the small things as ice guards, keeping the vibes warm and cozy so icebreakers are never needed.
Stick with what you know.
Sometimes it’s fun to switch things up, like trading Friday lunch for a game of laser tag. But on the regular, it’s best to stick with what you know works. Is your office more into games and music? Don’t try to force them into kickball simply for the sake of shaking things up. Keep rolling with the good stuff till the appeal rubs off, then try something new.
Does someone have a dairy allergy? Have a few vegetarians around? Maybe there is Muslim on staff or several team members with families. A company picnic with burgers and pepperoni pizza at 6:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night during Ramadan probably isn’t the best way to bond. Sure, you might not be able to cater to everyone’s needs, but do your best to be considerate and as inclusive as possible.
It’s the continuation of traditions that keep people together over years. Maybe you have some turnover, but the fact that you have a Thanksgiving meal together every year allows those who have moved on, those who are new, and those who have been there from the start to feel connected to each other and the foundation of the company.
We all have lives outside of work, but colleagues usually spend more time together than they spend with friends, roommates, significant others, etc. It’s important to bring life’s milestones into the workplace and take the time to celebrate together. Whether it’s a full baby shower or a simple grocery store cake, celebratory gestures let your coworkers know that you value them beyond their ability to get you that report on time.
Maintain healthy communication.
There’s nothing more disappointing than planning an amazing party just to have everyone walk around on eggshells or pair off into corners. The practice of healthy communication and feedback loops can prevent such instances and ensure that everyone feels comfortable to enjoy the party with each other.
Well, what are you waiting for? Go make your team not hate each other.