6 Ways to Design Workplace Culture Without Throwing A Party

22nd Jun, 2020 | Resources

It’s getting to the time of year where Winter kicks in. You can feel the dissatisfaction hanging in the air and you know you need to do something. “Everyone loves a party” you think – but then you remember:

– Parties are expensive

– They’re hard work to organise

– You just had one at Christmas and its effects lasted less than a month

Culture can’t hang on one event a year. It’s an environment created by behaviours and beliefs and simply throwing an extra event when the impacts of the last one are no longer visible is not going to contribute to any sort of sustainable solution.  

So, what is culture?

While understanding many of our blog readers are in HR, for those of you who aren’t, culture is the beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviours that contribute to the emotional and relational environment in your workplace.

To know how to impact it, you first need to be able to identify it within the context of your business.

Ask yourself… “How would your workforce describe this environment? What works within it and what doesn’t?”

Why is culture important?

Turnover is 3 times lower for businesses who’s employees report a positive culture compared to those who have a negative one. 

Culture directly impacts a business’s ability to attract, retain and get the best out of their employees.

From the casual receptionist, all the way to the CEO, no one operates in isolation of the culture and as such everyone’s work is impacted by it. For this reason, ensuring your culture is healthy and constantly improving is an important goal for any business.

Here Are 6 Ways ToDesign a Workplace Without Throwing a Party

While parties have their place in contributing to workplace culture, they only behavioural and attitudinal initiatives.

There are a variety of simple, less cost and time intensive tactics that you can try – here are our favourites:

 1) Know your cultural weaknesses

No business is perfect and we can all do better.

Take the time to get an understanding of how employees see and experience your workplace culture – and identify the quick wins that can help demonstrate your commitment to improvement.

2) Create spaces

They say change is as good as a holiday.

Where your employees are stuck at the same boring desk or counter everyday – it’s easy for their immediate environment to contribute to  the feeling of being in a rut.

Where your workspace allows it, create breakout spaces, where staff can work from a more comfortable environment for some of the day.

If your space is limited, look at what you can do to help employees personalise or create changes in their physical environment.

3) Implement the “Oops” email

A sign of a poor culture is one where mistakes aren’t learned from. Where leadership is driven by fear – staff will be reluctant to share the learning that comes from failure.

By installing the use of an “Oops email” (you may have heard this called something else less appropriate for a blog post) you can begin building a supportive and resilient culture.

An Oops email is an all-staff note sent by someone who made a mistake about what went wrong, why, how it’s being prevented going forward and what was learned.

It allows the whole team to acknowledge human error, learn from it and respond to it in a positive way.

4) Treat thanks and sorry as sacred

These are the two most important words when it comes to creating a genuinely positive culture.

Ensuring that everyone in the team takes time to sincerely thank or apologise to others at every opportunity, is a great way to foster a team spirit uplifted by empathy and appreciation.

5) Don’t push the personal aside

Employees are people. They have important personal lives that they can often feel disconnected with when they are at work. By celebrating milestones, like birthdays, engagements and personal achievements the team are encouraged to learn more about each other and build stronger connections.

6) Banish burnout

Businesses who value hours over output often struggle with culture.

When staff feel like they need to “outlast” their colleagues each day to demonstrate their usefulness, cultures can become eroded by resentment, judgement and exhaustion. If your staff genuinely can’t go home on time because of their workload, it might be time to look at getting in temporary staff to help deal with the overflow in a cost-effective way.

In this way, your staff can get some work/life balance back and come to work rested and un-resentful.  

By taking one or all of these small steps you can begin to make big strides with your culture without having to think about canapes and cocktails.