Company culture is a big topic these days, especially thanks to the pandemic. People are quitting jobs at record rates and others are demanding a more flexible work schedule and better benefits. Let’s just say, the game has certainly changed.
Maintaining a praise-worthy company culture isn’t just important for retaining key employees, but keeping them engaged while on the job. Research actually shows time and again that engaged employees are naturally more productive in their jobs. They tend to go out of their way to perform well and improve productivity without even being asked. In all honesty, what more could a business leader ask for?
While creating a company culture that retains key employees and keeps everyone engaged should be a year-round effort, you can use the festivities built into the year’s end to put the finishing-touches on your hard work.
1. Get Your Employees Involved
Engagement is already a top goal of building a company culture, so don’t leave your employees out of your plans. Even during this busy time of year, employees appreciate your efforts to involve them in your plans.
Consider putting together a Culture Committee (sometimes called a Fun Committee or many other things) to brainstorm a list of ideas for you to consider. If you don’t have a committee, poll your workforce or grab a few representatives from each department. Getting input right form the source will likely heed the best results.
The pandemic can make things tricky with planning, and your committee will have a pulse on what people are comfortable with or expecting.
2. Make Time for Recognition
A study from Deloitte says that 85% of employees want to hear a simple “thank you” in day-to-day interactions. So, again, don’t wait until the end of the year to work on making this effort, but definitely take the opportunity to acknowledge on a bigger scale everyone’s contributions this time of year.
Whether you have a formal internal awards program or not, make a big splash with recognition. Spend that extra money for trophies or prizes instead of a lame certificate someone threw together last minute in Microsoft Paint. Maybe even put together a survey and have employees vote for their co-workers in different categories. Or have each co-worker recognize one another in a meaningful way. Hint: These can also be turned into social media posts that will engage your online audience, as well.
Make it fun but also make it a big deal, because it is for both your employees and your business. All of this effort on your part is small compared to the impact they make for you each and every business day of the year.
3. Find Ways to Build Camaraderie
Facetime is important for you and your employees to build rapport and create a collaborative environment. Even if you have to use Zoom to get everyone together, do it, but get creative.
A holiday party where the same groups or departments talk to each other isn’t bad, but it’s not going to enhance things either. Figure out a way to get people to mingle. White elephant gift exchanges are always a hoot.
And don’t forget to think through or ask your committee if a party during work hours would be better for folks. Not everyone can step away from family for an evening. You don’t want people missing out. Remember: Business is better when everyone is engaged, so it’s OK if things are put off until after the holiday. Plan ahead and shut things down so the whole team can celebrate together.
4. Get the Gifts Right
If you give gifts, then make sure you get it right. Any casual fan of National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation” can tell you that an annual membership to the Jelly of the Month Club won’t cut it, and could potentially set you up to get kidnapped.
Gifts don’t have to be cash bonuses, gift cards, or tangible items. An extra two hours off before the holidays can also be a gift. Show that you care in your own way, and don’t be afraid to get input on this as well. Some employees will value time gifts over cash gifts and vice-versa. If you can personalize the reward, you may be able to save some money while also keeping your employees more satisfied.
And, if you are going to deviate heavily from what you’ve done in year’s past, give folks a heads up so they don’t put a down payment on a swimming pool they can’t afford!
5. Analyze and Adjust
Any worth-its-salt list of things to do at the end of the year should include a chance to step back and reflect on the past 12 months.
What is the current state of your company culture? Make sure you are actually measuring this with data you can compare year-to-year.
- What changes have been made that positively affected the culture?
- What about negative effects?
- What do your employees want to see adjusted or added for next year?
Set aside time to take stock and make sure your company culture is strong enough to make it through to next year.