Energizing a sense of startup culture might take more than a ping pong table in the office or a periodic potluck, but every small step matters if you’re looking to shape the way people think and feel about their workplace. And statistics show that those thoughts and feelings really do matter. Not only does great culture attract and retain talent, but it keeps people engaged in their work, something we know directly impacts the bottom line.
A turnstone survey shows that 87% of entrepreneurs feel culture helps their business thrive, but yet seven in 10 are unsatisfied with their culture as it is. What’s the disconnect?
According to Deloitte University Press’ Global Capital Human Trends 2015 Report, culture has to start at the top:
“Leaders lack an understanding of and models for culture: Culture is driven from the top down. Yet most executives cannot even define their organization’s culture, much less figure out how to disseminate it through the company” (p. 39).
If you’re a leader (or invested worker) looking to bolster your office culture but aren’t sure where to start, we have a few tips to infuse a fun, scrappy, passionate vibe that makes startups famous. Plan to do something every couple of weeks to build momentum with your team and turn the tide toward startup culture.
- Volunteer together. Nothing brings people together like a unified cause, especially when that cause positively impacts others. Partner with your local United Way, food pantry or soup kitchen to lend a hand. Whether a once-a-year event or a monthly endeavor, working side-by-side with your team outside of the office can translate into a big culture jump inside the office
- Bring photos from home to add personality. Designating some wall space to display personal photos of employees’ lives outside of work allows your team to share their personalities in a tangible way. So encourage people to share pictures of their families, their latest adventures, the backyard BBQ, hobbies—whatever makes them unique and helps them to more authentically tell their story at work.
- Play a group game. Games unite people with teamwork, competition and a common goal: winning. Snag time over lunch to try using a purchased board game or design a trivia game based on your company history or random pop culture questions. Or, get to know your coworkers by bringing in baby pictures, hanging them in a common area and matching tiny faces to their adult counterparts.
Build-your-own miniature golf course. A tipped over aluminum can makes a great hole-in-one—but don’t stop there! Compete with each other for the best overall design. Integrate ramps and get your furniture in the game. The more creative you are, the more fun your afternoon golf outing will be!
- Schedule internal lunch-n-learns. Draw on people’s passions and inherent knowledge to schedule lunch-n-learns with the team. Not only does it give everyone the opportunity to be a teacher, but it gives the larger group insights into what makes their coworkers tick, providing new pathways for understanding and increasing empathy in the workplace.
- Have a show-and-tell day. Invite your team to bring in meaningful items and share why these objects hold a place in their hearts. Storytelling bonds people and encourages trust, a key component in creativity and innovation. And who knows? Maybe you’ll actually have a lot in common with that guy in finance or the woman in sales.
- Host Friday Happy Hours. Wait for the clock to strike 5, and then enjoy some time laughing and relaxing together. Not able to host the gathering in your workplace? No worries—send a calendar invite for your team to join you at your favorite local hangout for a few drinks and a killer burger. But make an effort to put the work conversation aside and get to know the people with whom you spend most of your waking time. The relationships you build getting to know the human being behind the computer will pay dividends when you’re back in the office.
- Plan a lunchtime scavenger hunt in your local community. Whether a true scavenger hunt that comes with a checklist or an “Amazing Race”-style challenge, getting out into your community can be refreshing. And if you just so happen to end up grabbing drinks afterward, well, that’s a win-win for everyone.