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Tips to Transform Culture With Company Events

May 3rd, 2021

When it comes to company culture or ‘organizational culture,’ there is no single agreed-upon definition. The concept of organizational culture was first introduced in the 1950s by Canadian psychoanalyst, social scientist, and management consultant Elliot Jaques. Since then, it has been used to describe shared assumptions that guide behaviors in the workplace, a company’s personality defined by its values and norms, and patterns of premises used for internal and external problem-solving in an organizational context.

Despite not having a universally accepted definition, it is often cited as something people look at when either searching for a job or deciding if their current job is right for them. It has been connected to turnover rates, employee retention, and attracting the right talent. Based on these facts, it is safe to say that company culture is, at the very least, the way a company’s image and its operations either agree or conflict with each other – and how the potential friction can impact the employee experience, satisfaction, and productivity.

Define Your Ideal Company Culture

Company culture and strategy are very heavily intertwined, so the foundation for a good company culture starts at the top rather than the bottom. To define one’s ideal company culture, it is essential first to envision what the ideal company -the place where that culture is going to take root and flourish- needs to look like. Will it be a place that prioritizes vivacity, creativity, and collaborative efforts? Or will it be an environment that nurtures individual pursuits, projects, and problem-solving efforts? What does the hierarchy structure look like? Is it a place that crosses a line at office interpersonal relationships, or puts restrictions on the ways employees can mingle outside of the workplace? Will there be brief team meetings every morning or more extended monthly get-togethers for the board?

Answering these questions is not an exercise in establishing what sets your company apart from others, as a company culture does not need to be heavily customized. Rather, it provides you with insight into what an average day in the office will look like. Knowing how employees engage with each other – such as a team setting versus individual cubicles – will be useful information when you are planning company events. Your events should help reinforce the culture you want to create.  

Know Your Core Values

Contrary to popular belief, a company’s core values are not synonymous with the culture itself. Anyone can put up bright posters in the break room reading ‘We Treat Each Other Like Family!’ or ‘Always Put The Customer First!’. Unfortunately, even at the management level, not everyone goes out of their way to ensure people abide by these ideas. They become meaningless if not upheld. If determining core values aligned with your ideal company is a struggle, you can instead think of them as ‘guiding principles’, as they are more than simply the heart of a company’s culture. They are what moves culture forward. 

Structuring Your Company Events

Then how do company events come into the picture? As stated above, it goes back to the structure of your ideal company. If the rules on employees spending time together outside of work are relatively lax, then taking the team out to the bar on a Friday night might sound like a fun way to unwind. But employees who do not drink, have families or are underage become immediately excluded. You may struggle with establishing a corporate culture or improving an existing one when people are left out.

Company events need to be more thought out, and the best place to start is with their goal. Do you want to reward the team for a job well done reaching a current quota? Celebrate the accomplishments of someone who has been with the company for forty years? Is there a change in procedure that everyone needs to learn about? The objective will tell you the most appropriate structure for the event. A weekend retreat would be an excellent reward for the team but not the most suitable environment for celebrating one person, and certainly not conducive to a knowledge-sharing event. 

Diversity and Inclusion

Much like core values, employees who actively thrive in the workspace because they enjoy what they do are neither cause nor the cornerstone of excellent company culture. Instead, they are the result of one. The employees who are the most engaged are the ones who feel seen, heard, and respected. This is important to be mindful of when looking at diversity and inclusion efforts and how everyone’s valuable differences can affect the events you plan. 

We often hear about the importance of diversity hiring in terms of sexual orientation, religion, race, gender identity, disability status, and so on. But what happens after they are hired? How are those differences taken into consideration? The example above about the bar on Friday night touched on that, but it can go much deeper.  

Pretend that the event is at a time where everyone is free. How accommodating is the menu? Do your Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu employees have options? What about people with dietary restrictions due to chronic health problems?  

Now put down the menu and look around the restaurant. How easily accessible is it by wheelchair, crutch, or other mobility devices? Is there a place for your visually-impaired employees’ seeing eye dog to sit?  

Other things are not as evident at first glance, and you may need to get some second opinions. How safe will your LGBTQ+ employees feel there? What about your employees who are not white or white-passing? Being mindful of differences is about more than diversity training in the workplace, as the things that make everyone diverse do not disappear once they clock out.

Part of the Community

As you try to strengthen your internal community, remember that you have an external community as well. We are a part of it. If you are looking for space to host company events and improve your corporate culture, contact us today.