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15 Ideas to Help Build Workplace Culture

Ideas that you can action today to help build up that company culture across three key areas: team bonding, company processes and workplace setup.

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Whereas salaries and bonuses were the currency organizations traded on, today there is something much less tangible: workplace culture. There’s many theories around why company culture is so key to generations like Millennials

Creating a positive workplace experience is, undoubtedly, a topic we’re all buying into. But what is workplace culture and how do you create it?

What is workplace culture?

Workplace culture is summarized by three key pillars: the values, beliefs and actions of a workplace. The output of this helps create a company’s personality and the effect it has on its employees. 

The type of personality a company has will affect every interaction, workflow or behavior. It’ll determine how customers are treated, how colleagues interact and even how they socialize – or what their physical workspace looks like.

[Read more about workplaces of the future, here].

Workplace culture is what the company feels like, but this feeling is only created from purposeful actions around structure, incentives and processes. These tangible efforts prop up the culture and make the company what it is.

In this guide we’re going to look at 15 ideas that will help to build a workplace culture.

Team bonding culture ideas

1. Monthly or quarterly socials

Strong co-worker relationships are often the foundation of a strong company culture. But, they’re difficult to force. 

As an employer, it’s a good idea to set up regular environments that help nurture professional relationships between colleagues, like monthly or quarterly social events. Even better, make these part of the working day. 

Coworking organization WeWork goes one step further and hosts a WeWork “Summer Camp”; this yearly event brings together 8,000 +colleagues for a full festival experience to bond, learn and meet other WeWorkers from across the world. Inside the festival, sub-employee groups like “We of Color” and “Pride of We” help to create a feeling of inclusivity.

2. Cross-team projects

One of the reasons why company hackathons (where employees get together to brainstorm and build products), are so popular is for their ability to bring together cross-functional teams. Finding ways to bring together people who wouldn’t usually work together on projects, can help foster new ideas and ways of thinking.

3. No lunch at your desk policies

Zappos is perhaps one company famous for its company culture. One of their policies is the “No Eating at Your Desk rule”. The concept is designed to stop employees from eating “al desko” and to be more mindful about what they’re consuming.

Aside from the obvious health benefits, this type of policy forces colleagues to be more creative and social about where they eat. Colleagues who eat lunch together are more likely to share ideas and bring a bit of their non-work self to the conversation.

4. Brainstorming sessions

Something we’ve recently introduced at ScreenCloud within our marketing team is a fortnightly “Brain Picking” session. Even though we have a weekly catch up call every Monday morning, and regular small group meetings, these are often too structured to really let our brains wonder.

Brain Picking sessions give us the freedom to create a “wish list” or to discuss “nice to have” marketing ideas. The sessions are still structured but what we’ve realized is that by having a free reign, our ability to think bigger increases.

5. Company All Hands

Keeping everyone aligned to the company mission is crucial to forward progression, which is why many startups introduce the idea of a company “All Hands”. Here’s how our friends at Slido define the company All Hands:

“All-Hands meetings are regular company-wide gatherings where all employees and stakeholders have an opportunity to meet with leadership. The goal of an All-Hands meeting is to share the business updates of the past month or quarter, celebrate milestones and the people who made them possible and create a space for the Q&A.”

If your company is lacking transparency, or alignment between teams, the All-Hands meeting is a great initiative to bring in.

ideas to build workplace culture

Company processes to improve culture

6. Make the company mission visible, daily

Outside of a monthly report, or your company All-Hands as discussed above, how do you keep the wider company mission front and center of mind? A 2015 Achiever’s study found that 61% of employees don’t know their company mission. 

At ScreenCloud, we like to leave nothing to chance. Our company mission, and the key KPIs that push us towards it, are shown every single day on the digital screens in our offices. This helps make the information more visible of what we’re working towards. Of course, these are surfaced in other ways as well, but a great big screen is a pretty sure fire method of ensuring we all know what the big goals are.

7. Build a learning culture

You know who has a great learning culture? Google. The former Senior Vice President of People at Google, Laszlo Bock, wrote a book called Work Rules that discusses three core principles Google used to build a learning culture through the very veins of its company:

  • Learn from your best employees: rather than looking for external expertise, allow employees to train and teach others.
  • Don’t link development straight to rewards, development should be linked to both rewards and learning.
  • Learning is personal and how different people like to learn may involve varying styles and formats.

Image source.

For millennials in particular, job-specific training is in the top two factors that they say increases engagement with their work. Consider how you might build a learning culture within your company; this doesn’t have to be big budget training courses either. It could be inviting a knowledgeable friend in to speak, creating a list of interesting documentaries on Netflix or investing in a breakfast workshop or lunchtime training session.

8. Share knowledge

Alongside building a culture of learning, a culture of knowledge sharing is also hugely beneficial to employees, and the overall company. This might mean Founders sharing success stories during a company All-Hands, or just having a Slack room titled “Knowledge” where employees can share anything they’ve learned from an experiment or project. You may also wish to organize your knowledge in some kind of company wiki or portal, so that information isn’t lost when an employee leaves, or is on holiday.

9. Create no meeting days

If your company culture is designed around helping employees to be productive, you may want to consider company guidelines on creating space for deep work.

In research for his book We: How to Increase Performance and Profits Through Full Engagement Kevin Kruse found that leaders at companies like Asana, Aria Healthcare and Moveline all have a “no meeting” day each week. These are designed to increase productivity, or to give people space to create.

There’s some conflicting advice on whether these contribute to a more productive rest of the week, but they’re certainly an idea worth considering.

10. Improve onboarding for new employees

We all know that first impressions count, but when it comes to onboarding new employees we forget to give it much consideration. A 2012 study compared companies on a series of HR processes, one of which included onboarding new employees; the more capable companies who onboarded more effectively achieved more than twice as much revenue growth and 1.8 x as much profit.

Check out this great Hubstaff article on how different companies work the onboarding process.

Workplace setup ideas for company culture

11. Productive workspaces

One of the big perks of working from home is that you get to choose your most productive workspace. The trouble with company workspaces is that you’re trying to abide by a ton of different parameters. Ensuring you cater to different employees, within the restrictions of the building, or coworking space, can be really difficult.

We spoke before about how to create an inspiring office space, even when you might not necessarily own the building. You could also focus on making a few small tweaks with productivity in mind. For example, creating quiet spaces, improving the booking system of meeting rooms or using physical, or virtual, “do not disturb” signs to help protect employees when they are in the zone.

12. Flexible working

Flexible working doesn’t have to be in place to create an awesome company culture, but in many awesome companies flexible working is a thing. Flexible working reports show that many people benefit from flexible working. As an organization, flexible working increases access to a wider talent pool and also reduces overheads, like offices and desk space.

PwC are one corporation who found that offering true flexible working through a culture of flexibility is the best way to achieve success:

“To build a culture of flexibility, you must first reimagine what flexibility means today. Remember, to create behavior change, you need to allow for variance and creativity and agility. In other words, be “flexible” when creating a flexibility culture. A policy guide or a formal program can work against you. It seems counterintuitive, but having rules in place actually hinders the development of a truly authentic culture. At PwC, we loosely call it “everyday flexibility.” It isn’t something we mandate that all teams adopt; it’s a mentality and a way of life that should be individualized for each person.”

13. Visible digital noticeboards

One way to live out your workplace culture in a physical workspace is to create your own company TV channel. This gives you a way to surface important information, praise staff and live out any company notices that may otherwise be hidden in forgotten Slack threads, or emails.

The benefit of digital noticeboards is that you can adjust them as you grow in size and they can be a mirror image of your core culture, that everyone by default will see.

See how easy it is to set that up here.

14. Praise boards

In the same vein as the digital notice board, a public praise board curates a culture of recognition and reward. This can be automated and employee-driven, to encourage more peer-to-peer praise.

15. Live your culture

Many companies have a handbook, or website page, dedicated to how awesome their company culture is and how they want to equip employees to do the best work possible.

But picture this: if the printer is constantly breaking and isn’t being fixed, or if management never really shares where the company’s going and there’s always a level of uncertainty, does that company truly care about its culture?

Culture must always be more than the sum of a company handbook and values printed on the wall. It needs to be threaded throughout how people work, how managers manage and what the space looks like (either physically or online) for that company’s employees.

Over to you

We hope you enjoy making the connection between your workplace, the processes and the exercises which help to reinforce the foundations of your company culture. If you were interested in any of the ideas around screens and using them as visual dashboards for your company culture elements, grab a free trial of our digital signage software at screencloud.com/getstarted.

 SC Gradient

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