How Digital Events & Activities can Strengthen your Company Culture during Isolation
Updated: Jul 21
What does Company Culture Mean for Fast Growing Startups?
Creating a strong company culture in fast growing Startups is all about strategy and vision with core values being the underlying framework to create it. Company culture is grounded in an organization's values, reflected by the norms, behaviors, and language of team members, nurtured by the environment team members work in, and reinforced by the organization's compensation and benefits. This still remains the case during an isolation and when colleagues are unable to see each other face to face.
Culture as important as your business strategy and should be:
Rooted in values, practices, and beliefs shared internally by employees, staff and managers
Reflected externally to clients, customers, stakeholders
In the DNA of your company shown in behaviours across your entire team
"The top 20% of companies with a recognition-rich culture have a 31% lower turnover rate.” Josh Bersin: Forbes
During the current crisis it is more important than ever to make sure that the company culture is strong and the values are upholded.
The Meaning of Culture for an Individual Person is called Engagement and can be Measured.
Is company culture really that important? YES IT IS. A strong company culture does more than improve your image, it leads to improved engagement and in turn success. Engaged businesses benefit from:
87% increased employee retention
21% improved productivity levels
10% increased customer retention
22% greater overall profitability
Three Dimensions of Company Culture
Creating a strong company culture is in no way random. Airbnb or Google’s culture have not been created by chance but by a clear and defined strategy. Company culture has three layers. It starts with the core values, the framework of everything. The core values should be implemented by the processes and structures - the second dimension. Leadership is also extremely important for creating a strong company culture, as they are the transition between the vision, the operational part, and how it actually works on the ground floor.
1. Core Values
Core values shouldbe defined and be represented throughout the company and its structure. This includes considering the core values when talking about performance reviews, communication and feedback systems. For employees to "live the values" they should be embedded into the culture and every element of the employee journey and other strategies.Tip: Be transparent. What do you REALLY stand for and not what you only wish to stand for
2. Structures & Processes
A culture can only develop when the necessary structure has been created to make it work. In order for structures and processes to strengthen the culture norms should be created. The norms are where the culture and reality come together. Culture is about behaviors. You can utilize compensation and benefits to incentivize behaviors and reinforce the mission and values of the organization.
"It's important for leaders to create a corporate culture where teams feel valued and believe in the organisation's vision.” - Kerry Alison Wekelo: Actualize Consulting
Having a great culture is also having great leadership, that is not micromanaging but being a visionary and inspiring the employees, giving them authority to make things work.Above all leaders that trust their employees and realise their value.Managers should not just think in black and white but more holistic and on a visionary level. Instead of thinking of employees to be fired or promoted. Leaders should be thinking, how do I support this employee, or what are their next steps. Tip: Management has to set priorities! Leadership and team development is No.1 and NOT No.10!
Value and Support your Employees
It is more important than ever for employees to feel valued, listened to and also supported. Clear communication should be at the topic of everyone's priority list, ensuring regular meetings, 1:1s and feedback talks remain ongoing during lockdown. There should also be transparency in how the business is going during the crisis. If companies are honest and open with their employees this should help to build up trust and reassurance. This can be done even if the company is struggling. More on psychological health at work here. Tip: If, like many other companies during the crisis, are struggling with keeping up with paying your employees a full wage, ask for their input on what to do. You could suggest that all employees work one day less and suffer a small pay cut rather than firing some employees. During isolation employees' feelings of belonging need to be ensured. This should be done through sharing challenges, celebrating successes and always encouraging team connection, this can be done through digital activities and events. Digital team building activities can help employees bond with their team and remind them they are not alone in times of isolation and loneliness. In addition these activities can boost the teams excitement and motivation for their work. We have talked about why it is important to keep social interaction during isolation and how this adds to a strong company culture. But the real question is HOW do we keep employee interaction and a strong company culture digitally.
How to Strengthen Company Culture using Events and Activities
There are many events and activities that can lead to employees feeling supported and an increase in team engagement during isolation.
During isolation ensuring regular meetings is as important as ever. Each week should start with a weekly update of; what happened last week, what are the tasks for the coming week and anything new in people's lives, this could be as simple as what they did at the weekend. At DRIVE IMPACT we every Monday morning we discuss the previous and coming weeks. Consider using the following questions to stimulate answers:
The one thing that has been going great lately?
One thing that can be improved?
One thing that’s been going on with them personally?
One way to encourage team connection is through short presentations. Each week employees can take it in turns to do a short 10-15 minute online presentation. This can be on their current project at work or something entirely non work related. They could talk about their favourite hobby, teach their colleagues the basics of a new language or even talk about a great book they have read recently.
Many companies are becoming increasingly more aware that mindfulness in business has many benefits including; employees concentration, manager-employee relationships and team dynamics. Even during isolation there is no reason that teams can’t come join together for regular mindfulness sessions. You may be lucky enough to have someone that would like to lead a meditation or yoga session via video. Plenty of mindfulness instructors also offer online group classes or even a simple Youtube video is better than nothing. Employees can choose to use their video or not depending on how comfortable they feel.
Sometimes team engagement can require little or no input from the team itself. With Netflix Party people can watch films together as a group. This activity can be made as much or as little interactive as you like. You can conclude the film with a short discussion or simply get comfortable with a bag of popcorn and not say a word. Alternatively people can suggest a film to watch that week and members can (virtually) meet up to discuss it at the end of the week.
One way to exercise team members mental skills and give the opportunity for innovative ideas to arise is via a critical thinking activity. Pose a question to the group, give them about 1 minute to think about it and then share their answers. An example question could be:“If you were alone in a dark cabin, with only one match and a lamp, a fireplace, and a candle to choose from, which would you light first?”. This exercise can also be used to indirectly come up with interesting ideas for the company.
Desert Island Game
There are virtual games of all shapes, sizes and orientations. One idea is for teams to decide what items they would choose if they were stuck on a desert island. Teams then need to discuss why they have chosen these items. Tip: The more random and irrelevant items on the list the more creative people have to be.
An old favourite that never gets old. Charades is a great game for all and works well via video. Each person chooses something to act out from the round category and the others have the guess. The person to guess first gets a point. Each round should have a specific category eg: object, feeling, place, animal, film. The game can also be adapted to drawing pictures instead of acting out a scene. Skribbl allows for online pictionary games. The Houseparty app is a social network activity platform that supports these kind of games.
Getting to Know Each Other
Two truths and a lie
A great game to see how well you really know your colleagues. Everyone writes down three sentences about themselves, two of which are true, and one which is a lie. People take it in turns to say their three sentences and their colleagues have to ask questions to figure out which is the lie.
Personal facts guessing game
This game requires a bit of preparation beforehand. Each team member sends a personal fact to the organiser who creates a list. This list is sent to all of the members and they need to guess which fact belongs to which colleague.
Chat roulette is a great way to connect with individual employees. The idea is that colleagues are randomly paired up and spend 30 minutes getting to know each other over a (virtual) coffee. Donut is a great Slack extension that supports this.
Where do you live
This game is perfect for the most nosey team members and it gives a chance for you to welcome your colleagues into your home (virtually) and for you to get to know your colleagues a little bit more by snooping around their homes. Each team member takes it in turns to show their colleagues around their home and show off their favourite things.
Each team member says something positive (what makes them happy, grateful ect) and something that negative (they find a challenge). These can be either work related or not.
Encouraging team engagement doesn’t always have to involve planned activities. There are very simple ways to keep teams connected through isolation and strengthen your company culture.
Many smaller companies have a whatsapp chat for non work conversation, and for updating each other on how they are getting on daily. The slack ‘random’ channel can also be used for this.
Encourage team members to share photos of their daily life throughout isolation to encourage team engagement. This may be their desk setup for the day or a meal they made.
Especially for the foodies of the team. Recipe sharing chats (potential slack channel), are great for engagement during isolation. Employees can share recipes and the team all cook it on the same day and share their thoughts on how it turned out. Think virtual ‘Come dine with me’.
Friday drinks and quiz
Create a virtual works drinks. Each member brings their drink of choice and an organiser prepares a quiz (or you can find one online -Sporcle offers free trivial pursuit quizzes). If created by the organiser the quiz can be created to be more personal and reflect the company's core values, interests or sector. It could also include questions about team members or the company.
Focus on Strengthening your Company Culture and Connecting with your Team
Isolation can make employees feel lonely and disconnected to their colleagues and company. Ensuring team engagement is more important now than ever before, not just to support employees but also keeps a company culture strong even through trying times. Tip: Remember that core values are at the bottom of creating a strong company culture and therefore digital team events and activities should be built and focused around them. As mentioned before, creating a strong company culture requires structure, strategy and defined core values. If you are interested in a Core Values workshop please don't hesitate to contact us.