Sidekicker were just named the Anthill Cool Company of the year. Company culture is just one aspect of this award so we’re taking an in-depth look at some of our own cultural tactics – especially those that are often used incorrectly.
While many businesses use culture building tactics that are seen as “cliche tech company perks” there are many places, like the Sidekicker office, where they work to support a lively, tight and innovative culture. But throwing a few bean bags around the place isn’t the quick fix to an already ailing culture.
Here’s a list of a few popular tactics that do nothing for your culture on their own, but can work to supplement strong culture building programs.
A long-standing tradition due to the team-bonding a “social lubricant” can be seen to create, Friday afternoon beverages are seen as an easy cultural win by many businesses.
While drinks can encourage teams to gather around and form relationships over discussions of the weekend’s upcoming activities – they’re unlikely to work if your team aren’t naturally relaxed and enjoying hanging out together.
If people are taking drinks back to their desk to finish the mountain of work they have before the weekend, or are using the time set aside for socialising to duck off early, then you might as well pour the rest of the wine down the sink. It’s not doing anything for your culture.
Friday afternoon drinks work at places like Sidekicker because everyone downs tools and come together. The hiring managers have consciously brought enthusiastic, friendly and like-minded people into the business, so no one minds staying back to chat to their workmates.
While having the company values accessible is a good way to keep your decision making and attitudes in check, their mere presence is not going to make them come to life.
If the values of your business and the team you’ve built don’t align, no amount of visibility is going to manifest them. If anything, promoting values that don’t accurately represent the behaviours and attitudes of people at every level of your business can often undermine culture, by causing resentment and distrust.
Values should be a moving beast – constantly shifting to realign themselves with the things your teams commonly value. Having a visible and discussed list works only to remind the Sidekicker team of their shared values and that we should be reevaluating them on a regular basis.
How many table tennis tables are sitting in company kitchens gathering dust? While table tennis tables that are actively used can increase creativity, engagement, and healthy competition, this only works if the teams that sit around them drive their use on a regular basis.
At Sidekicker, the table tennis has been a noisy, but well-loved piece of office furniture because staff at all levels feel comfortable enough with each other to go out of their way to challenge their workmates to a game.
There are arguments that suggest the secret to workplace happiness is free snacks, but copious amounts of sugar can also make staff sluggish, discourage staff from going at lunch to get fresh air together or cause resentment towards that one staffer who always eats the last donut. Snacks can also lead to feelings of judgment or shame that are deeply harmful to healthy culture.
Cake and snacks are useful at Sidekicker because we use them to celebrate things. They’re eaten around a large communal table that encourages conversation.
Culture is a complex construct that is made up of a lot of moving parts. Simple tactics like these don’t create culture, but instead, support the ones that are already built. Using these things to attract and connect the right people is the best way forward. In and of themselves these initiatives will never work and if used inappropriately culture can crumble around them.